Energy crisis lifeline as UK accelerates £1bn hydrogen plan to slash foreign ties

As global gas prices continue to soar amid a deepening energy crisis, alternative renewable energy courses such as hydrogen could play a crucial role in slashing ties with foreign powers whose actions shock the volatile market. While hydrogen could eventually replace natural gas in many uses, the process as it exists now is not efficient and is expensive, making it difficult to scale to mass production.

But HyNet North West is the plan to create a huge hydrogen network to produce, store and distribute hydrogen to power industry and homes in Wales and the north-west of England.

The hydrogen plant is expected to start producing in 2026, generating more than 1 GW of hydrogen, and may be able to replace gas and oil in the future.

Now, leading engineering company Kent has won a contract to carry out the major design work for Vertex Hydrogen.

The £1billion joint venture between Essar Energy and Progressive Energy will oversee the design, development and construction of HyNet and is considered to be one of two clusters selected by the Government to be fast tracked.

Matt Wills, market director, low carbon and onshore projects at Kent said: “This contract win is a testament to our strong ongoing relationship with Vertex Hydrogen, and it cements our position as a leading engineering company in the energy transition sector across the world.

“We are excited to be a part of this transition and believe we have the technical and engineering skills to help deliver the project.

“Our ambition is to build long-term relationships with businesses that share our values and vision and together help make a difference.”

This comes after the Government announced it was committed to tackling the energy crisis with a £60million investment aimed at speeding up the development of green hydrogen power.

The HySupply 2 £60million competition is set to support innovation in the supply of hydrogen, making new super-fuel more viable.

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The Government has already awarded funding to 28 projects across the UK, including Scotland, Wales and the north of England, which they believe will accelerate an industry expected to create around 12,000 jobs.
In the Government’s Energy Security published last month, the UK committed to accelerating the country’s hydrogen capacity up to 10 GW by 2030.

This could create around 12,000 jobs across the UK as well as increasing domestic energy supply, making the UK less dependent on importing expensive fossil fuels in the future.

In August last year, the Government published its landmark Hydrogen Strategy – a document outlining how the UK will build and grow a “thriving low carbon hydrogen sector” by 2030.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The British Energy Security Strategy made clear that we are backing hydrogen not just as a viable source of clean, affordable homegrown energy but as an emerging industry of the future in which the UK can lead the world.

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“This funding will accelerate the development of this exciting new industry, helping position us as a hydrogen superpower on the global stage.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also previously said he wants to make the UK the “Qatar of hydrogen”.

Mike Foster, CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) has argued Britons could save more than £10,000 by replacing their polluting gas boilers with hydrogen-ready ones.

He told the UK is well on track to have a hydrogen-ready network by 2030.