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Goodbye Coal! Hello Hydrogen!

10th November 2021

On 04 November 2021, COP26 president Alok Sharma declared “The end of coal is in sight.”

20 world leaders had just agreed to stop financing international fossil fuel projects, and 23 countries agreed to phase out coal, at the international climate summit in Glasgow.

Fantastic news! There are cleaner, greener energy alternatives and we must embrace them. And we have a plan for supporting the UK’s green ambitions by creating a hydrogen ecosystem in the Thames Estuary.

Hydrogen is more than just a replacement for coal

Hydrogen is a green energy. It doesn’t give off noxious gases and the only by-product is water. Hydrogen can be used to fuel vehicles, heat homes, power industry and much more.

Our Hydrogen Route Map outlines the demand and supply of hydrogen across the Estuary and, importantly, the next steps for making this happen.

We are currently working with investors, green tech development businesses and researchers, to make this reality, and businesses (big and small) across the Estuary are coming forward to say they want to use hydrogen and be part of this. We’ve had incredible feedback. You may be wondering: What does this mean for people in the Estuary?  

Here are some of the benefits hydrogen will bring to people in the Estuary:

Graphic showing the benefits of the Thames Estuary hydrogen ecosystem: attracting £2.2billion of investment, creating 9000 jobs with a further 5300 downstream in automotive and manufacturing, avoiding up to 5.9 million tons of C02 and providing £3.8 billion GVA

Some of the benefits Hydrogen will bring to the Estuary

Cleaner air

The Estuary is one of the most densely populated regions of the UK. As a whole, the region emits roughly 11.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Embracing hydrogen here could reduce our carbon emissions by up to 5.9 million tons which good for the air we breathe and also a good step forward to reducing UK’s greenhouse gases.

Hydrogen-heated homes and buildings

We know there will be new homes and buildings in the Estuary – let’s make these as green as possible. From schools and hospitals to studios and community spaces we can make these low-carbon heated buildings.

Hydrogen-fuelled transport

This is the real opportunity area for hydrogen in the Estuary. Home to the UK’s largest ports cluster and newly designated Thames Freeport, the Thames Estuary creates a significant amount of traffic and a huge opportunity for decarbonising transport.

Along with walking and cycling, hydrogen-fuelled vehicles including cars, buses, trains, boats and even aeroplanes could reduce our individual and collective carbon-footprint considerably.

Greener deliveries to your door

Online deliveries are at an all-time high, and a lot of customers and companies want greener options. Hydrogen-fuelled lorries and trains could transport parcels from distribution centres, and hydrogen-fuelled vans (as well as people on bikes), could bring deliveries to your door.

It all adds up to a much greener logistics industry and reduces our impact as consumers.

Plain cardboard box on doorstep - Greener logistics would reduce our impact as consumers.

Greener logistics would reduce our impact as consumers.

Lots of green jobs

All this will require people to make it happen. From research and development, to supply and distribution of hydrogen, to making hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, and much more.

In fact, our research indicated that developing a hydrogen ecosystem in the Estuary would create 9,000 jobs and support a further 5,300 in related fields such as green vehicle manufacturing.

Bringing an economic benefit to the region

Our Levelling Up Data Atlas maps deprivation across the Estuary. Our mission on the Growth Board is to bring good, green growth to the region to ensure it meets its true vibrant potential.

Our Levelling Up Data Atlas shows that outside London our GVA is lower than the UK average. Our Hydrogen Route Map shows that by 2035, out hydrogen ecosystem could provide £3.8billion GVA this would help level up the Estuary and support the region to fulfil its productive potential which would benefit the whole country.

Our Hydrogen Route Map

Our Hydrogen Route Map is well-researched piece of work by commissioned partners Ikigai and DNV that shows the huge opportunity to drive the development of the UK’s hydrogen economy and how we can make it happen in the Estuary.

Read the Route Map here thamesestuary.org.uk/hydrogen