Ambitious plans to drive the North East’s role in new hydrogen fuelled vehicle development could create hundreds of new jobs, generate millions of pounds of inward investment and contribute to the reduction of carbon in the regional economy.
This is the conclusion of a new economic impact study which reveals the potential to create 1,500 jobs for the region if niche car and commercial vehicle manufacturers gear up production of the hydrogen fuelled vehicles over the next 15 years.
Spin-off jobs in supporting supply chain industries such as the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen, research and development, automotive skills training and transport and logistics would provide further economic and employment benefits.
The North East is a world leader in the large scale manufacture of hydrogen, producing more than 50% of the UK’s total in Tees Valley. The study outlines opportunities to increase this further reaffirming the region’s position as the third largest hydrogen economy behind London and Aberdeen.
The report comes as the Government recently announced up to £11 million to fund the roll out of hydrogen fuel electric vehicles (FCEVs) across the UK. This funding will be used to help establish an initial network of up to 15 hydrogen refuelling stations by the end of next year and includes a financial boost for public sector hydrogen vehicles.
The driving force behind the North East study is the Hydrogen Partnership formed between Tees Valley Unlimited, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Gateshead College, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) and Sunderland University.
Study findings indicate that upwards of 25% of the vehicles being driven on Britain’s roads by 2030 could be powered by engines using hydrogen.
Other countries are also adopting plans to bring hydrogen fuelled vehicles to the roads. In California, a strategy led by automotive manufacturers will see 50,000 zero-emission fuel cell vehicles placed in the hands of customers by 2017 supported by an infrastructure of retail hydrogen fuelling stations.
The report, commissioned by the North East Hydrogen Partnership, proposes that the region is poised to lead the way as the automotive manufacturing and hydrogen infrastructure and technical skills are in place to attract the inward investment for funding the new hydrogen vehicle projects.
The North East study was undertaken by energy consultants E4tech and Element Energy, and has been part funded by the HyTrEc programme, which is part of the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, and the European Regional Development Fund; Tees Valley Unlimited and the North East LEP.