From oxygen for Covid-19 patients, dry ice for the Pfizer vaccine and hydrogen for the Government’s new ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, the unique circumstances of 2020 have meant compressed gases have never been far from the news agenda nationwide.

In between this, we’ve also launched our campaign to ban the retail sales of nitrous oxide, which has attracted national headlines.

Despite the challenges of the year, it has been very rewarding to help communicate the vital role of compressed gases in society and their safety in use in these difficult times. We’ve embraced the shift to virtual, holding our important Technical Committee meetings online as well as launching BCGA webinars. And in 2021, that position and increasing recognition is going to present an engaging platform to continue to get that message across.

The new green economy

It was exciting to see the UK government’s Green Industrial Revolution being very supportive of hydrogen, proposing it to power homes and even neighbourhoods. 

We were also really pleased to see several commitments relating to hydrogen in the Chancellor’s recent Spending Review, aiming to create more jobs and funding towards low emission technology. We’re working closely with many different associations involved in hydrogen, to ensure our messaging is aligned, and as such, more powerful when we speak to Government.

Throughout 2021, we’ll be working to ensure that we set-out the sector as a proactive, sustainable and environmentally conscious industry, able to deliver on the new advances that will be required to move to a greener economy. We’ll be pressing to ensure that the matter is addressed at governmental, local authority and an industry level to open up and make the most of this opportunity. Our members have the skills and expertise to support this new vision for alternative fuels.

It should prove an interesting year as the BCGA sets out the industry’s forward-thinking and innovative ways in this area. And one point to consider is that we are going to need scientists and engineers in the future to unlock the opportunities from gases such as hydrogen, as well as CNG and LNG, which have also been in the spotlight in 2020.

Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a green 10-point plan in November.

New recruits 

One of the areas we want to focus on next year and beyond is on supporting and encouraging new talent into the sector.

The encouragement of study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects in education, and towards reducing skills shortages in industry sectors such as ours has been of great interest to BCGA members for several years.  Our sector has from an ageing workforce. However, there are many exciting, innovative developments taking place within the industry. If we look around us, the majority of objects used in our every-day lives have come in contact with compressed gases in some way.

As the representative body for the compressed gases sector, BCGA can take a lead in promoting the attractiveness of the industry to students, as well as getting involved in STEM initiatives. 

As the industry body, we believe it is the BCGA’s responsibility to take a leading role in promoting the skills agenda and communicating the attractiveness of the industry to younger people.  This can be done in several ways, for example, by reaching out to schools and universities and speaking directly to students, as well as harnessing the BCGA’s members, with many of the larger companies already being involved in this area.

So, in 2021, we’ll make a start on working with our members on campaigns in this area, to highlight the many opportunities our industry has to offer.

In summary

The industry has had a challenging 2020, including playing a key part in battling the Coronavirus outbreak – which has been pivotal in the transformation from the ‘invisible industry’ to the ‘visible industry’. We are well-placed to support key sectors and services in the future as the economy adapts to the changes ahead.

This is a dynamic, adaptable industry which impacts so many aspects of our every-day lives, from technology and transport to food and drink and more and the sector’s emphasis on developing products and services to ensure a safe, successful and healthy nation will support those changes moving forward. It’s a great message to communicate as we now look to the future.

About the author

Ellen Daniels is Chief Executive of the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA).