As the region, the country and the world take big strides towards meeting net zero targets, clean energy innovation is moving fast. People, businesses and industry want to decarbonise and, to do so, they need clean, affordable and efficient energy options.

HyNet North West is a ground-breaking clean energy project that will unlock a low carbon future for the North West and North Wales. It will place the region at the forefront of the UK’s journey to net zero and help to decarbonise multiple sectors of the economy from 2025 onwards.

The project will produce clean hydrogen to replace the fossil fuels we use today for industry, transport and homes. HyNet will also capture and store carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions produced by energy intensive industries. We are in a climate emergency, and we need to act quickly to reduce our emissions. HyNet is an ambitious and viable answer to reducing CO₂ emissions across the North West England and North Wales region.

The project is made up of several different elements, including upgrades to existing facilities as well as the development of new infrastructure. The breadth of the project makes HyNet a leader in the creation of the UK’s low carbon economy, bringing economic and environmental benefits to the local area and across the UK.

HyNet provides a real catalyst to creating clean growth in the region. As well as improving local air quality, this innovative infrastructure will help to protect and create local jobs, and enable a cleaner, greener future for the years to come. It will establish the region as a world leader in clean energy innovation and help drive the UK’s journey to net zero.

meeting the uk’s net zero targets

In 2019, the UK responded to the global climate emergency by committing to a net zero carbon emissions target of 2050. To achieve this, we need to balance the amount of carbon we produce with the amount we remove from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount of carbon we add is no more than the amount which is taken away. HyNet has been developed to rise to this challenge. It will drive the region and the UK’s journey to net zero by helping to decarbonise our current way of life and to provide a reliable source of clean hydrogen energy.

Environment

Unlocking a low carbon future for the North West and North Wales, HyNet will improve air quality and place the region at the forefront of clean energy innovation, creating jobs and bringing in investment. The use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and clean hydrogen power will pave the way for net zero and lead the UK in the fight against climate change. HyNet will:

  • reduce carbon emissions by 10 million tonnes a year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road
  • provide nearly 50% of the total hydrogen needed to meet the UK’s net zero target.
  • single-handedly be able to deliver 80% of the UK’s clean power target for transport, industry and homes by 2030.

Economy

As a region with a strong industrial base, the North West and North Wales will face challenges in meeting the 2050 net-zero target. HyNet will help local industries remain viable for the future by reducing and eventually halting carbon emissions, keeping the region as an attractive place for industry to operate, invest and thrive.

As well as protecting tens of thousands of existing jobs, HyNet will create over 6,000 local roles, offering wider opportunities for local people. The area’s industrial experience and cutting-edge science will create a hotspot for innovation, providing training and skills opportunities for locals in exciting, world-leading new sectors.

Nationally, HyNet North West will help to deliver 75,000 jobs by 2035 through a hydrogen economy, and unlock over £18 billion in GVA (Gross Value Added).

THE STORY SO FAR

The UK Government understands that to successfully tackle climate change, all parts of the economy must decarbonise and become greener, including heavy industry. The Government is supporting projects to decarbonise six of the largest industrial clusters in the UK, and HyNet North West is one of these.

North West England and North Wales have always been areas of industrial innovation, providing the food, fuel, products and services that allow this country to thrive. Because of this the region is home to an abundance of highly skilled workers. The region’s legacy means that instead of building HyNet ‘from scratch’, we can re-purpose existing infrastructure and benefit from first-class workforce allowing us to find more efficient and affordable ways to help the region to decarbonise for the future.

This region has a proud industrial heritage and remains home to a wide range of world-class, energy-intensive industry. This means HyNet will be able to support the decarbonisation of a vast range of industry sectors, including chemicals, glass, ceramics, oil refining, food, paper and automotive. Many of these companies rely on a process that currently emits significant amounts of CO₂, HyNet will help them to reduce this, and enable sustainable and long-term futures.

HyNet won’t just be providing clean energy for just industry. Hydrogen can also replace petrol and diesel in vehicles, and can blend into the gas network to heat our homes and local businesses, helping us all to reduce emissions in our day-to-day lives.

Once opened, HyNet North West will serve Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and parts of North Wales and Lancashire.

THE technology

As part of the HyNet North West project, we will build a low-carbon hydrogen production plant. The hydrogen we produce will be used in the region’s industry, transport, homes and businesses. The project also includes infrastructure to capture CO₂ emissions from energy-intensive industries in the area, and from the hydrogen plant, transporting and safely storing these emissions underground.

Hydrogen

HyNet North West is based on the production of hydrogen from natural gas. The hydrogen will be produced in bulk at a central plant using established, proven technology.

Hydrogen is an abundant element. It does not occur naturally as a gas it is always combined with other elements. Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O). Hydrogen must be separated to make it into an energy carrier.

Hydrogen offers a way to deliver low carbon energy because when it is burned it doesn’t produce CO₂, just water and heat. This makes hydrogen an adaptable alternative to fossil fuels.

Hydrogen can be made from a wide range of primary energy sources, including renewable energy such as wind.

There is already an established skills base for hydrogen production and handling in the North West as it is part of some existing industrial processes.

Overall, HyNet will provide nearly 50% of the total hydrogen needed to meet the UK’s net zero targets.

Carbon capture

The first stage of the HyNet project is focused on working quickly to reduce harmful carbon emissions from local industry, and cleaning up air quality in the region. In a process known as carbon capture and storage (CCS), we will remove carbon from industrial processes, safely transport the carbon via an underground pipeline and securely store it in depleted oil and gas reservoirs under the seabed. CCS is a safe and proven technology that stores carbon dioxide and prevents it from being released into the atmosphere, where it is a major contributor to climate change.

Capturing this carbon will protect tens of thousands of jobs by helping local businesses become sustainable in line with the net zero targets set by local and national government. By building this part of the project, we want to help protect the 340,000+ manufacturing jobs in the region.

As well as the environmental benefits of carbon capture and storage, there will also be new and extensive opportunities for local people. Tapping into the area’s industrial experience and scientific expertise will create a hotspot for innovation and growth. HyNet North West will create opportunities for local people to develop new skillsets and work in exciting, world-leading new sectors.

By 2030 the amount of carbon captured each year will be the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.

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