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#H2Explainer: Where can hydrogen innovation projects deliver jobs and investment?

14 September 2021

Press contacts for journalists

Ed Gill

Communications Lead, Gas Goes Green

+44 (0)20 4599 7684

ENA Press Office

We’ve released our Gas Goes Green Innovation Impacts research, which looks at the jobs and investment impact of hydrogen innovation projects proposed by Britain’s gas network companies. But where and how?

The research sets out how many high-tech green jobs gas network companies and their supply chain partners could create over the next 10 years.

So where and how can gas network companies deliver that investment to create those jobs?

Industrial areas in all four parts of Great Britain are top of the project list because they have the hardest to abate carbon emissions. In total, our members are proposing £4.4bn of investment in projects in central Scotland, northern and southern England and south Wales.

Approximately a quarter of all UK carbon emissions come from industry.

Industries in these parts of the country are currently reliant on the carbon-based natural gas to produce important products like steel and ceramics. This gas allows them, as energy intensive industries, to access the large amounts of energy to produce and sell those products, often in highly competitive, international markets.

That natural gas needs to be replaced to help tackle the climate emergency - but unlike other areas of our economy or society, such as transport or home heating, alternatives such as electrification are either impractical, too expensive, or simply not possible for these industries to use.

For that reason, our biggest single group of proposed innovation projects by investment are aimed at using hydrogen to reduce the carbon emissions from Britain’s six Industrial Clusters, where this heavy industry is based. Britain’s gas network companies want to develop the world’s first net zero Industrial Cluster by 2040, having established at least one low carbon Cluster by 2030.

These Clusters are in Humberside, South Wales, Grangemouth, Teesside, Merseyside, and Southampton and are a major strategic, contributor to our economy, worth a huge £170bn and employing nearly 3 million people.

We forecast that some 17,000 high-tech, green engineering jobs could be created by both network companies and supply chain partners in these industrial heartlands in the next ten years. Of these, we’d expect around 9,200 jobs to be created directly by gas network companies and around 8,000 created by supply chain partners.

The projects will help network companies research, test and develop the network of hydrogen pipelines and other infrastructure that is needed to produce, store and deliver hydrogen to these industries, as well enabling new technology such as carbon capture storage and utilisation.

National Grid’s Project Union will be key this work because it proposes to build a national ‘hydrogen backbone’ of pipelines that links Industrial Clusters together. Crucially, it will also look at how it can help industry access future hydrogen supplies from Europe by connecting a British hydrogen grid to the Continent, helping the energy intensive businesses access the energy they need, when they need it, to produce their products at the lowest possible cost.

And as part of our Gas Goes Green Pathway to Net Zero, we see the use of hydrogen expanding outwards from these clusters over time, with the use of it by homes and other businesses joining up over time, to create a zero-carbon gas grid.

So, when it comes to our Innovation Impacts and the investment that gas networks are proposing, all this work is another example of how tomorrow’s heat is today’s opportunity.

Notes to editor

Gas Goes Green #H2Explainers are a series of blogs setting all the key information you need to know about how Britain’s gas networks are working to deliver hydrogen to our homes, as part of our 'Tomorrow's Heat, Today's Opportunity' campaign. Check out the ENA Newsroom to find other articles and updates from both gas and electricity network companies.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.

More information

Press contacts for journalists

Ed Gill

Communications Lead, Gas Goes Green

+44 (0)20 4599 7684

ENA Press Office