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Hydrogen innovation set to drive 17,000 green jobs in Britain’s industrial heartlands

14 September 2021

Press contacts

Peter Kocen

Senior Press and Public Affairs Manager

+44 (0)7792 220 974

[email protected]

ENA press office

+44 (0)7792 220 974
[email protected]

Planned hydrogen innovation projects could create over 17,000 high-tech, green jobs in Britain’s industrial heartlands, new research published by Energy Networks Association (ENA) reveals today.

£4.4bn of investment is proposed in developing hydrogen gas grids to help reduce carbon emissions from Britain’s six Industrial Clusters, where strategically important heavy industries such as chemicals, iron, steel, glass and ceramics are concentrated. Over 9,000 of the jobs expected to be created would be employed by the network companies, with another 8,000 roles created in supply chain partners.

ENA’s Innovation Impacts report shows that new hydrogen innovation projects proposed by Britain’s five gas network companies could create a total of up to 25,000 highly skilled green jobs across Great Britain over the next ten years across five strategically important areas, including those in Industrial Clusters, as they plan to invest a total of £6.8 billion in proposed hydrogen innovation projects.

Up to 13,300 of the jobs would be created by network companies directly with, a further 11,400 jobs created by supply chain partners, in projects spread across the country.

The investment plans have been submitted to the energy regulator, Ofgem, as part of the companies’ business plans. The regulator is responsible for approving investment plans proposed by GB gas and electricity network companies.

The report sets out how the companies want to invest:

  • £4.4bn to help reduce emissions in Britain’s industrial heartlands, such as HyNet North West, which will produce, store and distribute hydrogen while capturing and storing carbon from heavy manufacturing industries. These projects are expected to deliver over 17,000 high-tech green jobs in Britain’s industrial heartlands in north-west England, the Humber and Teesside, Southampton, north-east Scotland and south-east Wales, as well as other locations.
  • £2.2bn in projects to speed up research into how we can repurpose existing gas pipelines so they are hydrogen-ready, to ensure gas network companies can deliver the Government’s hydrogen plans for building hydrogen village and town trials. This investment is expected to create over 6,700 jobs in projects in Fife, Cumbria and southern England, as well as other locations.
  • £150m in projects to ensure the wider energy system and economy is ready for hydrogen, such as the expansions of the HyDeploy project to trial blending of up to 20% hydrogen into the existing grid in north-east England and a continuation of the Future Billing Methodology project, which will ensure peoples’ energy bills remain accurate as we start to use more hydrogen. This is expected to create over 700 jobs in the north east and central England.
  • £19.5m in transport and other projects, researching how hydrogen can reduce emissions from cars and good vehicles, as well as ensuring it is used in a way that it is integrated with other green technologies and gases, such as wind farms and biomethane. These projects are expected to create nearly 100 jobs.

Commenting, Chris Train, ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion says:

“For the first time, this report sets out the sheer size and scale of the economic and social opportunities that hydrogen innovation can deliver over the next ten years, creating new green, hydrogen super-skills in communities and companies across the country.

“With the recent publication of the Government’s Hydrogen Strategy and the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan before that, the time is right for Ofgem to consider how it can unlock this investment, helping ensure that hydrogen plays its full part in fuelling Britain’s Green Industrial Revolution.”

Chris Manson-Whitton, of HyNet North West, adds:

“The UK has the innovation, skill and world leading infrastructure to be a global leader in the delivery of the hydrogen economy. Our leading industrial partners, such as those in the HyNet North West cluster, are committed to decarbonising their operations and products. Hydrogen enables them to do that, safeguarding jobs and attracting inward investment. As this report shows, network innovation underpins this transformation, also decarbonising our communities and transport systems, and creating thousands of skilled green jobs.”

Notes to editors

  • The ENA Gas Goes Green Innovation Impacts report can be found online here.
  • Total investment figures are provided from project proposals by all five of GB gas network companies, submitted to Ofgem, the energy regulator, as part of business plans submitted through the RIIO-2 energy network price control process.
  • Jobs calculations have been made using the Office for National Statistics methodology to calculate the effects of that investment on direct and supply chain employment. Read more here.
  • The investment by the companies is dependent on approval from the energy regulator, Ofgem, with decisions made by it in-line with wider Government decarbonisation policy.
  • The Government’s Hydrogen Strategy sets out how using hydrogen to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions must “focus on supporting industry to develop sustainable, home-grown supply chains, create high quality jobs, and capitalise on British innovation and expertise.”
  • Examples of projects set out in the report, include:

North East Network and Industrial Cluster Development

Planned network investment: £2,098,053,000

Estimated direct jobs created: 4,261

Estimated supply chain jobs created: 3,499

Scotland’s north-east and central belt are home to some of its largest industrial carbon emitters. The sector’s reliance on natural gas means that it emits 11.9Mt of CO2 emissions per year: the equivalent of 2.6 million cars, or roughly all the cars in Scotland.

SGN’s North-East Network and Industrial Cluster project is laying the foundations for the rapid decarbonisation of this high-emitting sector, proposing to demonstrate the feasibility of a 100% renewable hydrogen energy system that will repurpose the existing gas network to reduce those emissions.

East Coast Hydrogen

Planned network investment: £262,000,000

Estimated direct jobs created: 545

Estimated supply chain jobs created: 492

East Coast Hydrogen is a collaboration between Cadent, Northern Gas Networks and National Grid covering a footprint that includes the North East and East Midlands regions. It’s a project that is seeking to create a hydrogen network with as little cost as possible by re-purposing existing pipeline assets and building new pipelines only if needed. It is anticipated that this network will build out from the planned hydrogen production clusters in the Humber region, Teesside and the East Midlands - complementing and building on the existing plans of the hydrogen cluster consortia.

The aim is to be ready to transport hydrogen to where it is needed for decarbonising heavy industry, heating, power generation and transport. Connection of the Humber and Teesside clusters, and hydrogen storage, would then be followed by connection to HyNet North West and other hydrogen production clusters in Cumbria and East Anglia.

Hynet Homes

Planned network investment: £810,500,000

Estimated direct jobs created: 1,782

Estimated supply chain jobs created: 1,627

The project is part of the HyNet North West Industrial Cluster proposals for the development of consumer trials, centred around the potential HyNet hydrogen production facility located on the Stanlow oil refinery in Runcorn. There are a number of possible trial locations around the towns and villages surrounding the refinery which may be suitable for being put forward as the Hydrogen Village, to be in operation by 2025 in line with the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Hydrogen Village trial will demonstrate the scalability of hydrogen conversion and provide a blueprint for similar regional and national trials.

LTS Futures

Planned network investment £20,000,000

Estimated direct jobs created: 74

Estimated supply chain jobs created: 31

Projects focused on testing both the Local Transmission System (LTS) and the National Transmission System (NTS) will help ensure efficient transportation of hydrogen around the country, to homes and businesses across the UK.

The LTS forms the backbone of the wider energy network, ensuring the reliability and accessibility of more local gas distribution to towns and cities around the country. The LTS Futures project, therefore, is essential in ensuring the updates to existing infrastructure to make the switch from natural gas to hydrogen. Initial research into the existing infrastructure highlighted that 91% of the existing SGN pipeline network will most likely be suitable for the switch to hydrogen. As the project develops, greater investigations, including a live trial, will be made to ensure the suitability of the entire existing infrastructure in delivering hydrogen safely and securely.

Future Billing Methodology

Planned network investment: £4,800,000

The Future Billing Methodology project explores options for a fair and equitable billing methodology that will be suitable for a lower-carbon future. The current system, Flow Weighted Average Calorific Value (CV) billing regime, has the potential to restrict entry to unconventional gases that comply with Gas Safety (Management) Regulations GS(M)R. As well as this, the current system would require expensive processing to match the CV of the primary inputs. The project looks to understand how diverse gas sources can be integrated into the current system by exploring options for assigning CV at more specific levels and, with the findings, will inform the industry on billing options for the future hydrogen economy.

About Energy Networks Association

We’re the industry body for the energy networks. Our members own and operate the wires and pipes which carry electricity and gas into your community, supporting our economy. The wires and pipes are the arteries of our economy, delivering energy to over 30 million homes and businesses across the UK and Ireland. To do this safely and reliably, the businesses which run the networks employ 45,000 people and have spent and invested over £60 billion in the last eight years.

Learn more about how the energy networks operate and who we represent.

Press contacts

Peter Kocen

Senior Press and Public Affairs Manager

+44 (0)7792 220 974

[email protected]

ENA press office

+44 (0)7792 220 974
[email protected]