In an ambitious move that could transform the region’s economic and environmental landscape, East Midlands Airport has joined forces with a consortium of organizations to develop the UK’s largest inland hydrogen cluster.
The project, known as East Midlands Hydrogen, aims to meet the growing demand for hydrogen as a clean energy source while potentially creating an estimated 110,000 jobs in the region.
The partnership, which officially launches soon, includes key players like Cadent, Uniper, and Toyota, along with regional entities like the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, Midlands Engine, and East Midlands Freeport. Together, they are envisioning a future where hydrogen powers industries, transports goods, and fuels innovation.
At the heart of this initiative is the plan to establish a hydrogen pipeline network that can supply the region’s industrial sites with this green fuel of the future. Approximately 70 industrial facilities in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and northern Leicestershire have committed to transitioning from traditional fossil fuels to hydrogen by 2040. This shift is projected to result in carbon savings of 1.9 million tonnes annually, equivalent to the emissions of 860,000 homes.
A forthcoming report by PwC, set to be published next month, estimates that a fully developed hydrogen supply chain in the East Midlands could contribute a staggering £10 billion to the regional economy and support or create 110,000 jobs by 2050. This projection underscores the immense economic potential that green hydrogen presents, not just as an energy source but as an economic driver.
East Midlands Airport, the UK’s largest dedicated air cargo hub, plays a central role in this hydrogen-powered vision. It moves over 400,000 tonnes of goods annually, serves 4.5 million passengers in an average year, and employs more than 8,000 individuals. With an ambitious target of achieving net-zero carbon operations by 2038, the airport is aligning itself with the broader aviation industry’s commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Adam Freeman, the head of the airport’s environment strategy, highlighted the aviation sector’s growing interest in hydrogen. He anticipates that the airport could require approximately 700,000 liters of liquid hydrogen daily by 2050, coinciding with the global aviation industry’s net-zero target. Hydrogen’s role in decarbonizing flight, whether through hybrid electric systems, hydrogen propulsion, or direct combustion, is becoming increasingly apparent.
The Midlands Engine, overseeing this transformative endeavor, recognizes the East Midlands’ suitability for large-scale low-carbon hydrogen production through electrolysis. This method of hydrogen production aligns with the region’s resources and capabilities, positioning it as a significant player in the green energy revolution.
As East Midlands Airport and its partners embark on this journey towards a hydrogen-powered future, the region stands at the forefront of sustainable energy innovation. Clear skies lie ahead, both figuratively and literally, as this ambitious endeavor promises to not only reduce carbon emissions but also fuel economic growth and job creation on an unprecedented scale. The UK’s largest inland hydrogen cluster is ready to take flight.