South Bank in Redcar and Cleveland could become the base for the next phase of a pioneering hydrogen energy project aimed at reducing carbon emissions, as the UK looks towards its Net Zero commitments.
An outline proposal by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) to lease an area of disused land, located between Ann Street and Harcourt Road, was approved at a council cabinet meeting on Tuesday (June 16).
Under the proposal, which is still subject to planning approval, the existing gas pipes on the site would be used to test a series of standard gas network procedures using hydrogen.
The site was chosen because the gas pipes, while all still intact, are disconnected from the rest of the network.
Hydrogen contains no carbon element, so when burnt only produces heat and water, making it a realistic future fuel for domestic heating and cooking. Last week, the German government announced €7 billion for hydrogen projects, as part of its green economic recovery programme.
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.
H21 launched in 2016, to demonstrate that existing UK gas networks can be converted to carry 100% hydrogen for use in homes and businesses.
What began as a desktop project in Leeds, has grown over the past four years to include multiple partner organisations and a variety of interrelated demonstrations and studies – all designed to build the evidence base for hydrogen, and inform UK Government decisions on future investment.
Mark Horsley, Chief Executive for Northern Gas Networks said: “Hydrogen can play a key role in the UK’s future energy mix as we move towards zero carbon emissions.
“The H21 programme is demonstrating that the UK’s existing gas network can carry hydrogen, for use by homes and businesses. Teesside’s vast industrial heritage makes it a natural home for this project and we’re delighted that Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council have approved this first stage.
“We now need to work with the South Bank community and its leaders, and the proposals will be subject to full public consultation before they can progress.”
Consultation sessions planned with local residents were originally scheduled for March, but had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mark Horsley added: “It’s essential that this project has the backing of local people. In the coming months, we will be sharing more information with the community about the potential of hydrogen, and plans for the site.”
With Teesside already at the forefront of UK hydrogen production, Councillor Wayne Davies, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said: “Redcar & Cleveland is at the heart of the drive towards a low carbon economy and the Council has set an ambitious target to be a carbon neutral borough by 2030.
“Northern Gas Networks’ proposal could attract national and international interest in the hydrogen economy and the challenge to decarbonise heat. This very much aligns with the Council’s own carbon objectives.
“NGN has reached the next stage of the process which will bring more detailed consultation with local residents and councillors before the submission of their planning application.”