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Hydrogen South West established to expedite transition to net-zero future

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Airbus
Airbus

Hydrogen South West, a partnership that will establish an infrastructure ecosystem that will bring the benefits of hydrogen to the South West of England, has been launched by a consortium of nine prominent organizations from the aerospace, shipping, high-tech engineering, and public utility sectors.

This infrastructure ecosystem of essential businesses will decarbonize transportation, commerce, and power, foster sustainable growth, upskill the region’s workforce, and generate new employment possibilities.

The collaboration is comprised of prominent corporations easyJet, Airbus, and Hynamics (EDF), industrial heavyweights GKN Aerospace, consultants and engineers Costain and Wood, as well as regional leaders Bristol Port, Bristol Airport, and Wales and West Utilities.

The alliance facilitates cross-sector cooperation that will promote the development of hydrogen infrastructure and technology.

Hydrogen South West supports the government’s ambitious plan to produce 10 GW of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030. In addition, it will facilitate representation and collaboration in national efforts.

There are several planned pilot programs, including:

  • Hydrogen Hub at Bristol Port — A study is now being conducted to examine the feasibility of designing the port to accept hydrogen by ship, power land-based vehicles with hydrogen, and construct a hydrogen production facility at the port. The project comprises the development of a local pipeline network and support for future Airbus aircraft fueled by hydrogen;
  • Project Acorn — easyJet intends to operate hydrogen-powered aircraft as soon as they become commercially viable. The company will introduce hydrogen-powered Ground Support Equipment at Bristol Airport to prepare the ground;
  • UK Airbus inaugurates its Zero Emission Development Centre (ZEDC) for hydrogen technology. This will enable the development of Airbus’s ZEROe passenger aircraft by 2035, contributing to “jet zero” and “net zero” goals.

“The South West has a rich engineering and energy history, and is home to a powerful cluster of leading aerospace, transport and logistics businesses,” said Simon Earles, Hydrogen South West chair. “This combination of industrial experience, delivery expertise and regional knowledge presents a formidable opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to alternative power at scale.”

Jey Williams, Head of Fuel Systems Integration and Airbus focal point for Hydrogen South West, added: 

“This is a perfect follow up to Airbus’ recent announcement of investment in the Airbus Filton site as a Zero Emissions Development Centre. We’re delighted to be a member of this consortium. HSW will leverage Airbus’ positive impact on the region in terms of hydrogen skills and supply chain development, and in turn Airbus will benefit from cross-industry collaboration to understand and deliver the hydrogen ecosystems needed for net zero flight.”

Max Brown, VP Technology at GKN Aerospace said:

“The next decade is critical to build the foundations of a sustainable future, which will require significant collaboration across industries and Government. Hydrogen is set to play a key role in that future, as we collaborate to achieve the Government’s Net Zero 2050 targets. 

There are clearly major challenges to develop the infrastructure needed and Hydrogen South West has been established to help meet this challenge head-on. GKN Aerospace is already exploring the technology to enable hydrogen-powered zero carbon emissions flight, and with its strong industrial ecosystem, we see the South West as the ideal hub for hydrogen development in the coming years.” 

Andy Clarke, Director of Integrated Transport at Costain:

“The South West has a rich history of developing innovative transport connections and is perfectly positioned to link greener energy, heat and power with key transportation modes including shipping lanes and flight paths. These connections make it the obvious choice for creating an ecosystem for the roll out of hydrogen to the UK. 

“At Costain, we see moving away from carbon-based fuels for transportation as critical to our efforts to enable healthier, happier and better-connected communities. By leveraging new technologies and even more collaborative ways of working, we can enable seamless, cleaner and more active journeys for customers.”

The collaboration is collaborating with Business West to construct a skills development package that would provide upskilling and employment advantages to West of England areas. With the Hydrogen South West Skills Consortium, this has been formalized. By promoting investment and innovation in decarbonizing technologies, the South West is well positioned to become a hydrogen knowledge center of excellence.

Nedim Husomanovic

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