A roadmap using hydrogen to decarbonise transport, particularly commercial transport, in the North West of the UK, has been unveiled by the country’s leading gas distribution network Cadent.

Launched yesterday, the report – ‘HyMotion: Network-supplied hydrogen unlocks low carbon transport opportunities’ – aims to help the UK reduce its carbon emissions by 2050. 

According to analysis by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the transport sector is the largest emitter in the UK economy and accounted for 28% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017.

Hydrogen has been identified by the government and CCC as one protentional solution, with a CCC report on a possible future hydrogen economy recognising that hydrogen may have an important role to play for long distance journeys and heavy goods transport.

HyMotion sets out how the North West can use network-delivered hydrogen to make fuel cell technology a viable for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), trains, buses and cars, alongside other proposed technologies.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Using Cadent’s network to deliver hydrogen, rather than tube trailers, massively reduces the cost and makes fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) available to the general public for around the same price as a battery electric vehicle or a conventional diesel car.
  • FCEVs can travel further than battery electric vehicles and take the same time to refuel as a conventional petrol car.
  • Grid-supplied hydrogen is the most cost-effective way of supplying hydrogen transport fuel at the required volume – up to six times cheaper than if delivered by trailer and 70 per cent cheaper than electrolysis.
  • The concept of piggybacking on the larger hydrogen power and heat project – HyNet – to create options for low carbon transport, is viable.
  • A range of options – including battery electric vehicles – is needed but an exclusive focus on BEVs will result in a shortfall in the required renewable electricity of at least 32%.

“We carried out this study because there is an obvious desire and enthusiasm in the North West to think big and take a lead in finding low-cost ways to cut emissions,” explained Ed Syson, Chief Safety and Strategy Officer at Cadent.

“Industry and policy makers can now be assured that HyNet can deliver the bulk volume of hydrogen needed in the North West, via a pipeline network. Distributing it this way cuts the costs considerably and means hydrogen can complement electricity and advanced biofuels as an attractive option for future fuel.”

The report has been welcomed by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, who said, “If we are to meet our commitment to be a zero carbon city region by 2040, urgent action is needed to move to alternative fuel sources.”

“Hydrogen will play a key role in that process, and we, with our neighbours, are well-placed to lead the way in this emerging technology.”

“We are 100% committed to supporting our city region’s growing low carbon energy sector, through wind, solar and our own Mersey Tidal Project, and hydrogen is likely to be a very important part of the energy mix, as we aim to become the UK’s renewable energy coast.”

Other projects

At the report launch yesterday INOVYN, a wholly owned subsidiary of INEOS, announced plans for a study into the potential for grid-scale storage of bulk hydrogen in salt caverns in mid Cheshire.

Large-scale, low-cost hydrogen storage is essential to the deployment of hydrogen into the gas grid, INOVYN said.

A facility in Cheshire could store approximately 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen at a much lower cost than above ground storage.

Dr. Frank Rourke, UK Country Manager at INOVYN said, “Storage is a vital component of delivering a viable hydrogen energy system in the UK.”

“Using the Cheshire salt caverns’ unique geology, we have the opportunity to develop a critical piece of national energy infrastructure at a huge cost reduction to above ground storage.”

“The salt caverns have been used to safely store gas for decades and could now be repurposed as part of our green economy.”