The drive to use clean fuel hydrogen to help tackle carbon emissions and climate change have been boosted by a high-level group of experts brought together by Greater Brighton.

The City Region has established the Hydrogen Sussex group to back projects that seek to use the fuel, particularly in transport and heating systems. It has identified the region as being ideal for the production of very low carbon hydrogen from electrolysis using renewable electricity.

The group, which includes universities, gas, water and electricity companies, transport firms and officers from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), wants to ensure Greater Brighton is ready to take advantage of the government’s green growth agenda.

A report before the Greater Brighton Economic Board, the body that makes policy decisions for the region, points out that there are a number of hydrogen projects already underway.

These include:

  • Innovative engineering consultants Ricardo Ltd has received a provisional funding award and is investing £2.2m for a hydrogen engine testing facility
  • Shoreham Port has a hydrogen production facility at pre-planning stage
  • Brighton & Hove Buses is aiming for a zero-carbon fleet by 2030 and is actively looking at potential hydrogen bus models and infrastructure as well as electric buses

It adds that the Group is now taking forward a key piece of research with the University of Brighton, Ricardo and the Greater South East Energy Hub, to identify future demand for hydrogen for transport and potential locations for refuelling stations. This research will form part of the evidence base for a business case for refuelling stations and production of hydrogen. The plans fit within the recently launched environmental pledges GB10 which committed the region to a range of actions on water and energy efficiency.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water and no carbon emissions. Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind. These qualities make it an attractive fuel option for transportation and electricity generation applications. It can be used in cars, in houses, for portable power, and in many more applications.

Hydrogen is seen as particularly suitable for powering heavy vehicles although the technology is still some way behind battery electric vehicles.

Chairman of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, Cllr Daniel Humphreys said he welcomed the establishment of the group which was bringing together great expertise across private and public sectors.

“This is one of the things Greater Brighton can do. Bring all this talent and knowledge together for the benefit of the entire region,” he said, “We know that the government’s strategy will be to support the development of hydrogen fuel so we need to be at the head of the queue looking for help to develop technologies which will benefit the fight against climate change and help the region become a centre of excellence.”

The government is expected to launch its hydrogen strategy this Spring. In the meantime the Hydrogen Group is planning a launch and an invite to other interested parties shortly.

For information on the GB10 see the GB10 Pledges page.