East left behind by government hydrogen plans, expert says
- Credit: Su Anderson
East Anglia is in danger of being left behind by the government's new hydrogen strategy, an expert has said.
The first ever hydrogen strategy includes a road map for developing the fuel over the next decade.
The project would support more than 9,000 jobs and be worth £900 million to the UK economy by 2030.
But despite a growing reputation as the energy coast, East Anglia was barely mentioned in initial proposals.
Nigel Cornwall, founder and director of Net Zero East, said: "We have opportunities that are not available to many other regions in the UK.
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"There is a real opportunity using the rich access to existing energy assets and new offshore assets to be put in."
These existing assets — such as Bacton Gas Terminal or Sizewell B nuclear power station — could be used to power the hydrolysers that create hydrogen.
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He added: "And what is more while East Anglia may not have industrial clusters in the same way that the Midlands and Teesside does, its regional economy has got very significant markets. Which means that there could quickly become an established demand for hydrogen — particularly around agriculture, waste vehicles and larger transport."
Mr Cornwall said that without creating new jobs in a green industry like hydrogen the region could suffer.
"There are existing jobs and infrastructure that will be lost as the oil and gas sectors decommission," he said. "So we need to redeploy people into this new energy environments in a way that creates values and maintains jobs."
A spokeswoman for the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) made assurances that developing a hydrogen economy would involve the whole of the UK.
She said: “The UK’s first-ever hydrogen strategy lays the foundation for a world-leading hydrogen economy that can create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK - including in East Anglia - and unlock billions-of-pounds worth of private investment.
"We recognise the significant potential East Anglia offers to contribute to the hydrogen economy, particularly as the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership continues to take strides in transforming the area into the UK’s Clean Growth Region.”
She added East Anglian stakeholders would be able to engage with BEIS in a series of consultations.