A new study has found that hydrogen could be a major driver for new jobs and skills in Derby.

Last year Derby set out its aim to become the UK’s centre of excellence for future fuel technologies, using the city’s advanced manufacturing expertise to revolutionise the way low-carbon energy is used to power businesses, transport and homes. The ambitious goal will support the city’s recovering economy and create a step-change in successfully achieving net carbon zero.

In a bid to realise its goal, Derby City Council commissioned Arup - a global, employee-owned, built environment consultancy - to study the potential of hydrogen as an energy source for the region, and to set out a roadmap of how that could become a reality.

Hydrogen is increasingly recognised as a viable and low carbon future fuel that can help the UK meet its net zero commitments by 2050.

Establishing a regional hydrogen roadmap in Derby and the wider region - findings and recommendations, published today, looked at five main areas: (1) production, distribution and storage, (2) heating, (3) transport (4) industry and (5) jobs, skills and research. It provides evidence that Derby and the wider D2N2 region is particularly well placed as a national front-runner for establishing a hydrogen economy, and clearly demonstrates the city’s incredible assets that, if brought together, make hydrogen not only a practical low carbon energy source but also a driver for new jobs and skills for Derby and beyond.

Building on the city’s advanced manufacturing and engineering excellence, its wealth of big sites with high development potential as green energy hubs, the network of research institutions and collaborators, as well as large potential users with strong transport infrastructure.

The Arup report reflects the case for the scaling up of hydrogen made in the government’s recently released UK Hydrogen Strategy report, which pledges support for creating a market and developing home-grown supply chains, leveraging local research and innovation strengths, and attracting investment to create high quality jobs, industry and export opportunities. It similarly highlights the role which leadership must play to lead by example and foster collaboration, as Derby City Council has already begun to do at a regional level.

It recommends the establishment of a taskforce to create pace and greater co-ordination, as well as a strong single voice to investors and Government. This will anchor the city’s regional reputation as an exciting and progressive place, where rich and diverse organisations bring their passion together to establish hydrogen.

In response, the Council and Arup are working with the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership to establish a taskforce with people who can support – and we need you.

Those interested in being part of the taskforce, and with an interest in bringing hydrogen to the region are being asked to read the report give feedback, and answer some simple questions:

  • are you currently using or planning to use hydrogen to power/decarbonise over the next five years?
  • what are you planning to do?
  • how could a co-ordinated approach in the region help your plans?
  • how would your organisation contribute to a regional taskforce?

Responses to the questions, and general feedback should be sent to future.fuels@derby.gov.uk

This feedback will be added to enrich the report and help to create a pipeline of on-going schemes and projects that will show the city’s seriousness in delivering the roadmap. The final report and taskforce will be launched at a mass event in early autumn before COP26 in November.

Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council said:

“When we started talking about future fuels last year, I knew that it was the right approach but that we needed to do something tangible quickly - so we agreed to look seriously at hydrogen. What ARUP have found certainly exceeds my expectations and I am very keen that we come together across the region and sectors to make this happen. We know there are many other areas already installing the infrastructure for hydrogen, but this is not a competition. Hydrogen will become one of many new sources of low carbon energy that will be deployed across the UK as we move on from oil and gas. This study shows our region has unique assets that position it perfectly to be at the forefront of the change.

I want the children and young people of Derby to love their city and see their future here. I know the Council Leaders across the region share the same view for the young people in the places they represent. We want to show them we can combine our efforts to create an inspiring and sustainable future that can give them a home and career for life.”

Elizabeth Fagan CBE, Chair of the D2N2 LEP added

“Our vision for the region is to achieve the biggest carbon turnaround in the country. We have been working with partners across the region on low-carbon energy and investing in infrastructure for homes and businesses to switch from fossil fuels to power from sustainable sources such as wind and solar.

The work that Arup has produced adds to the growing reputation we have in energy innovation and creativity. It gives us further confirmation that we are a region to be reckoned with, and that we have the sophistication and ambition to bring forward a mixed energy economy that will shape the future and attract investment and jobs. The Midlands Engine has identified hydrogen as a key strand in its Ten Point Plan for Green Growth, and Derby will be a leader for the Midlands and beyond.

I look forward to working with Derby and all the key players to kick start the taskforce and unlock the expertise, the creativity and the political backing to make our move to zero-carbon a reality.”

Mark Neller, Director - Energy Leader at Arup said

“We believe that hydrogen should be an integral part of the energy mix for the UK and so we are delighted to be asked to carry out this study. Hydrogen is one of the major systemic levers we need to move as a society and the publication of the National Hydrogen Strategy makes it an ever-increasing priority - one which the region can benefit from. It was clear very early on, in fact from the first workshop we held, that this region already had a lot of activity taking place. It is apparent that if everyone could jump together, there would be a powerful case for accelerating hydrogen adoption in the region. We estimate the potential for over 30,000 jobs related to industries which currently burn hydrocarbons, to be decarbonised through the introduction of hydrogen. It would also have a significant impact on both retaining and upskilling the region’s substantial workforce and supply chain in its productive advanced manufacturing, engineering, and energy sectors – and our conservative estimate is for at least 800 new jobs in the D2N2 area by 2030. We look forward to hearing what partners think about the report and how we can use it together to really drive this forward.”