H2 Future Opportunities By Sam Knox, Invest NI

According to the United Nations, sustainable economic development depends on the availability of two resources, water and energy.  Northern Ireland has good natural resources in the plentiful supply of water in the form of underground aquifers and energy from our wind resource. The present scenario where we are curtailing our wind resource due to oversupply presents us with an opportunity to make zero emission hydrogen cleanly through the electrolysis of water and the utilisation of low cost renewable electricity. This will enable us to contribute to the objectives of the UK Industrial Strategy to reduce carbon and particulate emissions as highlighted under the Clean Growth theme.


London, already an acknowledged leader in deploying zero emission hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, has pioneered a fleet of hydrogen powered buses and taxis, installed the largest total capacity of stationary fuel cells in any European city and established a commercial market for transportable fuel cell applications. The cities of Leeds and Aberdeen are also following this lead through the deployment of hydrogen buses for public transport, all of which are manufactured by Wrightbus in Ballymena.


However, there is still much to be done if we are to reap the environmental and economic benefits from deploying hydrogen as a low carbon fuel. Overall the environmental benefits are quite clear.   The uptake of hydrogen powered vehicles, fuel cell units in buildings and portable applications will all help meet energy and transport requirements with ultra-low emissions – offering a pathway to delivering cleaner air and significantly enhanced health benefits. Additional future opportunities for hydrogen could be the decarbonising of the heating and industrial process including steel making, synthetic aircraft fuels and cement manufacture. Hydrogen can be produced from a range of low carbon sources such as biogas and solar to be stored to help support a more resilient energy network for security of supply.


To accelerate the potential opportunities we need to take the lead in innovation. Being ahead of the game ensures the development of a specialised and skilled industry, which in turn attracts further investment and demonstrates ambitions to drive positive change.


When completed, the GenComm project will be in a position to inform government and business stakeholders when it will be the right time to invest in economically viable commercial opportunities associated with hydrogen generation from wind, biogas and solar power for use in transport, power generation and energy storage. The project will also advise on the associated training requirements for the future development of the sector.


To find out more and get involved in the low carbon economy why not attend All Energy, Glasgow https://www.all-energy.co.uk/ where you can attend workshops and seminars on hydrogen and fuel cells that will highlight energy conversion; re-energising the UK industry for clean growth; and promotion of innovative solutions.


If you wish to attend All Energy as part of the Invest NI Energy Storage delegation on 14-16 May, contact Sam Knox at: sam.knox@investni.com




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