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A pioneering hydrogen energy project set to be launched in the Tees Valley has today been welcomed by Mayor Ben Houchen.
Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has been granted planning permission to use an area of land in the region for a world-first, to test hydrogen as a potential alternative to a household gas supply.
The UK has set a target of achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. The natural gas currently used by the 85% of homes connected to the gas grid is responsible for over 30% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Hydrogen produces no carbon when burned, making it a greener energy solution for heating and cooking.
The site, between Ann Street and Harcourt Road in Redcar’s South Bank, was chosen because around 70 homes were demolished on the land ten years ago but services including gas pipes, which are disconnected from the rest of the network, are still intact.
From the end of June, NGN will spend three months preparing the site before demonstrations begin from late summer. Once these are completed at the end of the year, NGN will restore the site to its current state.
This is the latest hydrogen project announced for the region, alongside establishing the UK’s first hydrogen transport centre, leading research, development and testing of hydrogen transport technologies. BP also recently announced it plans to make the Tees Valley home to the UK’s largest production facility for “blue” hydrogen, which is produced by converting natural gas to hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We’ve got a long list of projects in the pipeline that are putting our region at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution and this ground-breaking Northern Gas Networks scheme only serves to highlight how we’re grabbing opportunities in the clean energy sector with both hands.
“This has come on top of our other hydrogen initiatives and our low-carbon and renewable schemes taking place just a few metres away at Teesworks, including GE Renewable Energy’s massive wind turbine manufacturing facility and Net Zero Teesside’s carbon capture, utilisation and storage project.
“This test has the potential to be a real game-changer for the energy industry, and it’s happening right here on Teesside. Thanks to these schemes, we’re putting ourselves on the map as a clean energy powerhouse, creating good-quality, well-paid jobs in the process.”
Cllr Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “Redcar and Cleveland is at the heart of the drive towards a low carbon economy and the Council has set an ambitious target for the area to be a carbon neutral borough by 2030.
“Northern Gas Networks’ proposal has the potential to attract national and international interest in the hydrogen industry and the challenge to decarbonise heat. This very much aligns with the Council’s own carbon objectives.
“The site in South Bank is an ideal location to safely test the use of hydrogen in an existing gas network and I will be interested to find out more as the hydrogen energy project progresses.”
The proposal for South Bank is part of the next phase of the H21 project, a major collaborative UK gas industry hydrogen programme led by NGN to assess the suitability of the UK’s gas network to carry hydrogen.
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive Officer for Northern Gas Networks said: “The way we heat our homes has to change to meet climate change obligations and hydrogen can play a key role as it doesn’t produce any carbon when burned.
“Teesside’s vast industrial heritage and the location of other hydrogen projects in the area, including BP’s plans for hydrogen production, make it a natural home for this project and we’re delighted that Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has approved our plans.”
Redcar MP, Jacob Young who chairs a group of cross-party politicians who support hydrogen in Parliament, said: “It’s fantastic to see this project off the ground in South Bank.
"We are putting ourselves on the map and demonstrating our drive and ability the explore new technology here.
“Hydrogen is going to be a key way we decarbonise some of our hard to abate sectors and deliver more jobs in Teesside in the long term.
"We already produce around half of the UKs hydrogen on Tees, and now we’re harnessing that potential.
“Northern Gas Networks have been a great partner to work alongside and as well as investing in this new technology, they’re investing in apprenticeships too to give young people the skills they need for the Green Industrial Revolution.”