Potential for a Hydrogen Village

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 24 May 2022.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy) 11:00, 24 May 2022

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the potential for a hydrogen village.

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Ms Bardell. Many Members in the north-west and north Wales have mentioned the genuine interest in, and support for, the HyNet project. Speaking as the Member for an area where industry consumes about 5% of the whole country’s total energy consumption, I am only too conscious of the need for us to change if we are to meet our climate commitments. Faced with that fact, the companies that are responsible for a lot of those emissions have been working together to address the future and are working on a whole series of projects that will contribute to our reaching net zero while also enhancing the local economy.

We were very pleased to have the HyNet project approved for the first industrial cluster last year. With our unbeatable combination of industry and geology, we believe that we can transition to a hydrogen-based economy with carbon capture more quickly than just about anyone else. Our current infrastructure can be easily converted to operate with hydrogen, and HyNet believes that it can capture up to 800,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

It is exciting that my constituents potentially have a big part to play in this endeavour, and it is hoped that the area of Whitby in Ellesmere Port will be confirmed next year as the location for a hydrogen village programme. The natural gas running through local pipes in the area would be changed to hydrogen from 2025, and Whitby has been identified as an ideal place to host the hydrogen village programme, largely due to its closeness to HyNet:

“The Hydrogen Village is a really exciting project where local homes and businesses would be able to reduce their emissions—while continuing to build the North West’s reputation as a leader in the hydrogen economy”.

It also means that we can back UK manufacturing jobs, but as always with these things, the maximum benefit will be found if we can take the maximum number of people with us.

That means not only showing people that it is a good thing for everyone if they are at the spearhead of a new way of heating our homes, and that they can play a big role in meeting our net zero targets. It also means ensuring that people feel that things are being done with their consent and agreement, rather than them being done to them. Of course, a big part of that will be communication, and I know that Cadent has already begun working on ways to advise residents about the project and will be opening a new shop in the town in July, so that residents can find out more.

Obviously, residents will have legitimate questions, and I imagine that they will want to know about the potential costs, their safety and the level of disruption they will face. From the information I have had to date, I think that all those concerns can be dealt with. With the rapidly increasing energy bills that we all face, I would hope that the cost issue will be a positive for my constituents, with at least a guarantee that they will not pay any more for their energy. I hope that there is scope for us to go further than that and be able to offer them a discount. It is early days, but the only inquiries that I have had so far from constituents are about why people have not been included in the trial, which demonstrates the positive spirit of the people of Ellesmere Port, their willingness to embrace the future, and their eagerness to play their part in tackling climate change.