The government has announced a £90 million package to support projects, including hydrogen, that can help reduce emissions from homes and heavy industry and support the UK’s 2050 net zero goal.
Hydrogen is a low or zero emission alternative to fossil fuels, which could be used to power industry and transport but is currently difficult and expensive to produce in bulk.
A total of £28 million will support the development of hydrogen production, including two of Europe’s first hydrogen plants – one on the banks of the Mersey and the second planned to be located near Aberdeen – as well as technology to harness offshore wind off the Grimbsy coast to power electrolysis and produce hydrogen.
A further £18.5 million is being awarded to projects developing and trialling technologies to switch industrial production from fossil fuels to renewables in industries such as cement and glass production.
The projects have the potential to be scaled up and rolled out across industry, which means houses and roads could be built using low emission concrete by 2030. This could prevent around 3.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year – equivalent to taking 679,000 cars off the road.
Around £20 million will support projects aimed at cutting household emissions and bills through nine UK-wide local “smart energy” projects.
Under 10 community pilot projects, more than 250,000 households from Rugeley near Stafford to Coleraine in Northern Ireland could have their homes powered by local renewable energy sources by 2030, expected to reduce bills by as much as half.
In Rugeley, a coal-fired power station is to be demolished and turned into a sustainable village of 2,300 homes and residents are expected to benefit from thermal storage units instead of traditional gas boilers, enabling them to draw, store and heat their homes with geothermal energy from local canals and disused mine shafts.
In Coleraine, a microgrid of nearly 100 homes will be developed, powered entirely by local wind power, helping reduce household electricity bills by as much as 50% and boosting the contribution of renewables to the local energy mix by a quarter.
The remaining funding is being awarded to UK scientists and engineers conducting research into decarbonising industry, focusing on emission-heavy transport and heating.
Business, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Cleaning up emissions from industry and housing is a big challenge but today’s £90 million investment will set us on the right path as we develop clean technologies like hydrogen.
“This is an important part of our world-leading efforts in eliminating our contribution to climate change by 2050 while also growing our economy, creating up to two million green collar jobs across the country by 2030.”