The creation of a North West hydrogen (H2) cluster in England could boost the regional economy by £1.6bn ($2.1bn), create over 2,300 peak jobs, reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and help improve the region’s air quality, according to a new report commissioned by Peel.

The report outlines how delivery of a H2 network between Greater Manchester and Liverpool could significantly de-carbonise the region’s energy, usher in a new era of H2-fuelled vehicles and cut CO2 emissions by 10 million tonnes per year by 2050. It could also improve air quality by reducing particulate matter and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, produced by the region’s road vehicles.

As one of the North’s leading land and property companies, Peel is collaborating with other firms in progression of the exemplar project – with the company’s Protos energy destination near Ellesmere Port a potential central hub for the cluster. It comes shortly after the launch of the UK’s first Energy Innovation District in the North West, an area promoted by the Cheshire Energy Hub to stimulate future energy technology.

Release of the report follows details of a conceptual study by Cadent, the gas distribution network operator in the North West, to deliver a major H2 infrastructure project called the ‘Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster’.

Commenting on its findings Dr. Tony Smith, of Peel Environmental, said, “The creation of a H2 economy would be game-changer for the North West in so many ways. From de-carbonising our energy and contributing to climate change targets, to making substantial improvements to the region’s air quality, delivering a fully-functioning H2 industry would be transformational.”

“This report shows there is real opportunity to attract inward investment, create thousands of jobs and put the North West at the forefront of the UK’s H2 industry.”

Smith continued, “Making it a reality will take collaboration. We’re working alongside some of the biggest names in the energy-intensive industries to promote an exemplar and deliverable hydrogen project, which responds directly to the Government’s recently-published Clean Growth Strategy.”

Peel’s report, authored by independent experts Aqua Consultants, sets out how use of H2 could contribute to the targets identified in the 2008 Climate Change Act. It also outlines how a North West H2 production hub in the North West, including Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation facilities in the East Irish Sea, could feed large industrial users in the region. It could support a network of H2 vehicle re-fueling stations across Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington.

Supporting the concept, Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director and Professor of the University of Chester’s Thornton Energy Research Institute said, “This report represents another positive step in the region’s growing reputation for both research and commercialisation of these innovative technologies. It provides a strong, economically robust case, based on real evidence, for the use of H2 and its associated supply chain as a credible route to a low carbon gas economy. Furthermore, it contributes to the emerging understanding of the potential for a Liverpool-Manchester H2 cluster.”

Chris Barron, Director at Aqua Consultants, authors of the report, added, De-carbonising heat and transport are recognised as the biggest challenges in achieving the UK’s 2050 emissions reduction targets. Repurposing all or parts of the existing gas networks to hydrogen would meet the peaks in demand required for heat, whilst providing an option for the energy infrastructure required to displace petrol and diesel in road transport.”