Pioneering Hydrogen Program to Bring Low Carbon Energy Benefits for the North East, Midlands and Beyond

A pioneering hydrogen programme, encapsulating production, storage, transmission and distribution – is set to drive green jobs, skills, and competitive supply chains across the Midlands and North East.

The Easy Coast Hydrogen Distribution Project

The second phase of the East Coast Hydrogen project (ECH2) will provide the opportunity to connect up to 11GW of hydrogen production by 2030, exceeding the UK Government’s 10GW target within a single region. The hydrogen will replace natural gas – currently essential for industry and power generators – helping to preserve the industrial and commercial value of the Midlands and North East. The detailed Delivery Plan launch took place in Westminster on Monday 13 November 2023.

Delivering for the Future

East Coast Hydrogen will play a critical role in decarbonising industry and improving energy security by:
• Connecting up to 4 Terawatt hours (TWh) of hydrogen storage by 2030.
• Connecting producers and storage providers to a range of customers, requiring 63 TWh/year of low-carbon hydrogen to decarbonise power generation, aviation, industrial and commercial demand.
• Save up to 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2037 – supporting the UK to meet its 6th carbon reduction targets.
• Switching 44% of reliance on natural gas in the region to low-carbon hydrogen.
• Creating world-leading hydrogen hubs in Teesside, the Humber region and the East Midlands, protecting and creating around 360,000 jobs.

Why the East Coast?

The East Coast region hosts concentrated industrial energy demand, significant gas storage and offshore wind power, making it an obvious location to produce low-carbon hydrogen. By providing critical hydrogen pipeline infrastructure, the Programme can enable widespread decarbonisation. Industrial and commercial businesses forecast demand for hydrogen at 156 sites in the regions covered by East Coast Hydrogen, on behalf of 53 large energy consumers.

Projects like East Coast Hydrogen can make real the Government’s national ambitions to deliver 10 GW of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030 – with at least half of this total coming from green hydrogen produced by renewable sources. The region is home to two of the UK’s largest industrial centres, as well as the UK’s largest inland hydrogen cluster in the East Midlands, and is the location of eight shortlisted government-funded hydrogen projects, making up around 30% of successful hydrogen production projects to date.

East Coast Hydrogen is set to become a significant at-scale low-carbon hydrogen centre and will provide resilient and home-grown energy where it is needed most, in particular for energy-intensive industries or those generating power across Humber, the East Midlands and Teesside.

A Collaborative Effort

Hydrogen is expected to play a major role over the next 20-30 years in reducing the UK’s CO₂ emissions, helping the UK on its journey towards net zero by 2050. East Coast Hydrogen will also support the growth of renewable energy generation, using it to produce and store hydrogen at times when renewable output is high, but demand is low.

This programme is a huge collaborative effort: led by Cadent, Northern Gas Networks and National Gas, the consortium brings in a broad spectrum of members across public and private sectors and responds to the UK Government’s plans for a ‘green revolution’ incorporating hydrogen as a crucial technology to effect significant change.

Sally Brewis, Head of Regional Development at Cadent, said: “We’re ecstatic to be in a position to publicly launch this delivery plan with our partners and consortium members. Our industrial and power generation customers in The Humber, South Yorkshire and the East Midlands are telling us they need hydrogen in huge quantities to decarbonise their operations – often hydrogen is their only viable option. They need a resilient pipeline network that connects them to storage and production sites and our Delivery Plan shows how that will happen. The carbon savings potential is enormous and we’ll help to ensure that our treasured manufacturing industries can stay viable in a Net Zero world, maintaining employment in the regions.”

“It is vital that projects such as this are supported and accelerated, enabling the customers who need hydrogen to make their own investment decisions for the energy transition. Cadent is proud to be a part of driving the future infrastructure that can help enable the achievement of these ambitions”.

Mark Horsley, Chief Executive of NGN said:

“Our East Coast Hydrogen delivery plan is absolutely critical to maintaining and building a thriving regional economy, whilst hitting our Net-Zero target. It demonstrates how we can decarbonise industry initially in Teesside, West Yorkshire and the Humber, by bringing hydrogen to the majority of our largest users, many of which are simply unable to function without an alternative to today’s natural gas”

Jon Butterworth, Chief Executive of National Gas, said: “We have a concentration of key assets in the East Coast Hydrogen area and are excited about our role in the vanguard of a Net-Zero future, while still ensuring the continued dependability of natural gas transmission to support Britain through the energy transition. East Coast Hydrogen provides the ideal balance of driving economic growth while still maintaining energy security, securing thousands of jobs and creating thousands of new ones in the process.”

The East Coast Hydrogen programme shares expertise in energy infrastructure development, industrial policy, skills, and innovation to develop the low-carbon hydrogen production and storage facilities. Initially, the hydrogen produced is expected to be used for industrial, commercial, and power generation processes, with scope in the future for other applications and usage.