Business

New body launched to support growth of region's hydrogen economy

John Palmer, committee member of the new Hydrogen NI industry body

A NEW membership group Hydrogen NI has been established to support the growth of the clean hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland.

Hydrogen is rapidly emerging as a sustainable energy solution and is expected to play a central role in reducing the north’s reliance on fossil fuels, particularly those currently used in the heating and heavy transport sectors which are more difficult to decarbonise.

An increasingly common way to produce hydrogen involves a process called electrolysis, where electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

This presents a unique opportunity for the region to take advantage of its world-leading levels of renewable electricity, which mostly comes from wind energy, to produce clean hydrogen. It will also create a sustainable use for wind energy produced at times when electricity demand is low. As things stand this energy is often lost.

Hydrogen NI represents organisations with an interest in developing a clean hydrogen economy, and its early members include Phoenix Natural Gas, B9 Energy Storage, Solo Renewables, Green Energy Hub, UK law firm Shoosmiths and Evermore Group.

It will provide a voice for the industry and will engage with government, elected representatives, local councils, the media and the public to raise awareness of the economic and environmental opportunities created by developing a clean hydrogen economy.

Committee member John Palmer (partner and energy specialist at Shoosmiths LLP) said: “Northern Ireland is uniquely placed to use its high levels of wind energy to create clean hydrogen; and has the skilled workforce required to develop world-leading expertise across all areas of the hydrogen economy.

“This will help to lower our Co2 emissions by decarbonising sectors such as heat where we have the added advantage of a modern gas network that can facilitate hydrogen, transport and the high energy industries.

“If Northern Ireland can continue to innovate and position itself as a global leader in the drive towards decarbonisation it will result in significant foreign direct investment and create thousands of sustainable jobs.

“The UK Government expects hydrogen to deliver up to £4 billion of private investment by 2030; while the EU believes investments in renewable hydrogen in Europe can reach €470 billion by 2050.

“We fully support the commitment shown by the Economy and Minister Diane Dodds to make Northern Ireland a centre of excellence for the hydrogen economy.”

Hydrogen NI will host an online launch event on Tuesday May 25, which will include a presentation from Richard Rodgers, head of energy at the Department for the Economy.

He said: “Engagement with stakeholders from across Northern Ireland has been at the heart of the Department for the Economy’s approach to developing a new Energy Strategy, on which we are currently consulting and which we intend to publish later this year.

“Although still an emerging sector, clean hydrogen is set to play an important role in the energy transition and the shift to net zero carbon. Therefore, we welcome the launch of Hydrogen NI and look forward to working with the group in the time ahead as part of our wider engagement programme.”

Phoenix Natural Gas and Ryse Hydrogen/Wrightbus will also contribute to the Hydrogen NI launch event, discussing how clean hydrogen will support the decarbonisation of the heat and mobility sectors. More details at www.hydrogen-ni.com.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Business