BY FAYE MCANULLA, HYDEX PROGRAMME DIRECTOR
The Energy Research Accelerator’s HyDEX programme is supporting the creation of a new hydrogen industrial economy in the Midlands, by working with businesses of all sizes to accelerate innovation, building markets and helping to develop the new skills that will be required.
Since we have started the HyDEX programme there have been a number of hydrogen developments in the region. Transport for West Midlands have received funding for 124 hydrogen buses, making the region’s hydrogen bus programme the biggest in the western world. Tyseley Energy Park has been awarded funding to build the world’s largest ammonia cracker, allowing a new way to produce hydrogen directly from ammonia; Centrica have announced hydrogen will be injected into a gas fired power station for the first time at a site in Brigg in Lincolnshire. JCB have announced the launch of their hydrogen refueller truck, allowing hydrogen-run machinery on major construction sites to be refuelled in-situ.
The Fossil2Fusion bid to host UKAEA’s concept phase fusion plant (which utilises hydrogen!) at West Burton power plant in Nottinghamshire has been selected as the host location, which will bring significant opportunities and jobs to the region. The region continues to host the UK’s major hydrogen conference organised by Climate Change Solutions and in addition Loughborough based Cenex organised the Low Carbon Vehicle event (held in Bedfordshire) showcasing a wide range of hydrogen vehicles as part of the event. All of this activity increases the Midlands unique role in the development of the UK’s hydrogen economy.
The transport and automotive sector is a key specialism for the Midlands and in recent weeks a consortium involving ourselves, Octopus Hydrogen, Motive and EDF Energy have recently submitted our H2GVMIDS proposal into the Zero Emission Road Freight Programme to host a trial of hydrogen-fuelled HGVs in the region. This would allow us to build on the region’s expertise in this sector and make use of our central location for transportation of freight across the UK.
Our partner universities have also begun to develop their demonstrator plans and we have put together our set of service offerings to industry. These range from the large scale green hydrogen production facility at Cranfield which can produce hundreds of kg of hydrogen each day, to the laboratories at Nottingham where large diesel engines are being retrofitted to run on hydrogen, and much more. HyDEX offers a comprehensive range of support for technological developments and R&D, enabling businesses to launch new hydrogen technologies.
Partners have also submitted applications with partners for other innovation projects from across the region including Rolls Royce, Kew Technology, Severn Trent and Equans to name a few.
One of the key ambitions of the programme is to support development of regional activity on hydrogen, hence we have begun two initiatives – one focused on hydrogen policy and the other on regional hydrogen initiatives. For the latter we want to collate a set of ambitious ideas that could support the development of the hydrogen economy in the region. Examples of this could be a hydrogen train demonstration, an industry fuel switching programme, a construction demonstrator, fuel cell production, etc.
To initiate this work we have a series of short meetings coming up on a wide range of topics and we would be keen that if you are interested in inputting to any of these that you come along (sign up here). The outputs of both of these strands of work will form a Regional Hydrogen Prospectus which we will use for engaging funders and policy makers and we will showcase at our HyDEX Regional Hydrogen Policy event on 26th January. Register for this event here.
We have also made a lot of progress with our international engagement activity, with increasing activity taking place with South Korea and China. Next year we plan to launch our International Hydrogen Alliance to allow us to move from bilateral engagement to an international knowledge exchange platform that our industrial partners can engage with. We also have our European Hydrogen Policy Summit coming up at the end of this month in Brussels. Please email Ben Peng if you would like to attend.
Finally on the practical side of things we now have a number of new team members in place and I would encourage you to reach out to them. We have also established our hydrogen industry database. If you would like added to this or would like to be involved in the HyDEX programme, please email us.
Programme Director, HyDEX