North West hydrogen cluster could drive economic growth

  • A new report – commissioned by Peel Environmental – reveals developing a hydrogen economy in the North West could unlock £1.6billion of GVA by 2050 and create over 2,300 peak jobs
  • Carbon dioxide reductions of up to 10 million tonnes per annum by 2050
  • Air quality improvements for Greater Manchester and Liverpool city regions would result from the use of hydrogen as a road transport fuel decreasing emissions of NOx and particulates

The creation of a North West hydrogen cluster could boost the regional economy by £1.6 billion, create over 2,300 peak jobs, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help improve the region’s air quality, according to a new report commissioned by Peel.

It outlines how delivery of a hydrogen network between Greater Manchester and Liverpool could significantly de-carbonise the region’s energy, usher in a new era of hydrogen-fueled vehicles and cut CO2 emissions by 10 million tonnes per year by 2050. It could also improve air quality by reducing particulate matter and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, produced by the region’s road vehicles.

As one of the North’s leading land and property companies, Peel is collaborating with other firms in progression of the exemplar project – with the company’s Protos energy destination near Ellesmere Port a potential central hub for the cluster. It comes shortly after the launch of the UK’s first Energy Innovation District in the North West, an area promoted by the Cheshire Energy Hub to stimulate future energy technology.

Release of the report follows details of a conceptual study by Cadent, the gas distribution network operator in the North West, to deliver a major hydrogen infrastructure project called the ‘Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster’.

Commenting on its findings Dr. Tony Smith, of Peel Environmental, said:

“The creation of a hydrogen economy would be game-changer for the North West in so many ways. From de-carbonising our energy and contributing to climate change targets, to making substantial improvements to the region’s air quality, delivering a fully-functioning hydrogen industry would be transformational.

“This report shows there is real opportunity to attract inward investment, create thousands of jobs and put the North West at the forefront of the UK’s hydrogen industry.

“Making it a reality will take collaboration. We’re working alongside some of the biggest names in the energy-intensive industries to promote an exemplar and deliverable hydrogen project, which responds directly to the Government’s recently-published Clean Growth Strategy.”

Hydrogen is a de-carbonised energy source which can be used to create electricity and heat. When used as a replacement for fossil fuels in road vehicles, its only emission is water. There is also the potential to blend hydrogen into the existing gas distribution network to reduce carbon emissions at the point of consumption. Such combined application of hydrogen across the North could therefore reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help improve health and air quality.

Peel’s report, authored by independent experts Aqua Consultants, sets out how use of hydrogen could contribute to the targets identified in the 2008 Climate Change Act. It also outlines how a North West hydrogen production hub in the North West, including Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation facilities in the East Irish Sea, could feed large industrial users in the region. It could support a network of hydrogen vehicle re-fueling stations across Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire and Warrington.

Supporting the concept, Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director and Professor of the University of Chester’s Thornton Energy Research Institute said:

“Low carbon energy technology is very much at the forefront of the work undertaken by both academics and businesses at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park, especially through our newly established Energy Centre.

“This report represents another positive step in the region’s growing reputation for both research and commercialisation of these innovative technologies. It provides a strong, economically robust case, based on real evidence, for the use of hydrogen and its associated supply chain as a credible route to a low carbon gas economy. Furthermore it contributes to the emerging understanding of the potential for a Liverpool-Manchester hydrogen cluster.

“I welcome the report’s focus on air quality and decreasing transport emissions in our North West city regions and I see the additional potential for innovation, skills, and supply chain development as extremely exciting both for the University and the regional economy as a whole”

Chris Barron, Director at Aqua Consultants, authors of the report, said:

“De-carbonising heat and transport are recognised as the biggest challenges in achieving the UK’s 2050 emissions reduction targets. Repurposing all or parts of the existing gas networks to hydrogen would meet the peaks in demand required for heat, whilst providing an option for the energy infrastructure required to displace petrol and diesel in road transport.”

Cheshire Science Corridor – The North’s science and technology powerhouse – to be the focus of seminar at world’s biggest property showcase

Cheshire’s Science Corridor – the most internationally significant cluster of commercial science and technology assets North of Oxford – will be the focus of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership’s opening event at the world’s premier investment conference today.
The event, the first in a series of events and activity taking place at MIPIM (Marche International de Professonels d’Immobilier) in Cannes to promote the area’s investment opportunities, was supported by law firm Addleshaw Goddard, one of over 20 partners supporting Cheshire and Warrington’s delegation.
It showcased the strengths and investment opportunities of the Science Corridor, which stretches from sites in Ellesmere Port and Thornton Science Park, part of the University of Chester and a rapidly developing centre for R&D in energy technologies, to Birchwood Park in Warrington where most of the UK’s nuclear engineering is done, to Alderley Park in Cheshire East, a major centre for life sciences. It also includes the internationally recognised Jodrell Bank and the newly launched Protos, Peel Environmental’s £170 million energy and innovation hub acdjacent to Thornton Science Park.
Following the launch of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone in April 2016 which covers a number of sites within the Science Corridor, the area is home to over 100 hectares of development and investment opportunities with the potential to attract over 20,000 job and 500 businesses.
In under a year, the EZ has already created 330 new jobs, 20 new businesses and attracted over £1 million of private sector investment.
Led by Cheshire and Warrington LEP Chief Executive Philip Cox, the event featured a panel discussion focussed on the significance of science and innovation in Cheshire and Warrington with representatives including: Thomas Renn, Manchester Science Partnerships, Victoria Martin, The Peel Group, Mike O’Connor, Addleshaw Goddard, John Adlen, Growth Director at Cheshire and Warrington LEP, and Henry Brooks, Managing Director of Tatton Estate Management.
Philip Cox, Chief Executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “Cheshire’s Science Corridor is home to world class assets, and our aim is to put the area on the map, which together with Liverpool Knowledge Quarter and the Oxford Road Corridor in Manchester could form a new Golden Triangle for North.
“The Cheshire and Warrington economy continues to go from strength to strength – we have the second highest income per head of any sub-region in England outside London – making us one of the country’s most successful economies. The Cheshire Science Corridor is one our most exciting and significant growth propositions, and this event was valuable opportunity to demonstrate to an international audience the scale of opportunity that we have to offer.”

Henry Brooks, executive director of the Tatton Estate said: “The enterprise zone status recognises the fantastic range of existing employment assets the Cheshire Science Corridor offers. New supporting development will help the UK and the Northern Powerhouse capture inward investment, nurture our home grown, scientists of the next decade and take advantage of the incredible quality of life we can offer the science sectors.
“Great places to live and visit as well as work are key, and our Tatton Garden Villages in Knutsford, rural schemes like Millington and short let portfolio Tatton Stays are all a response to support the LEP and government agendas.”
Cheshire and Warrington’s full event schedule for MIPIM is available at –
Find out more about the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone at

Construction completes at university energy centre

Willmott Dixon has finished work on the University of Chester’s Intelligent Energy System Demonstrator project, now known as the Energy Centre, at Thornton Science Park.

The project was a part new-build and part-refurbishment of an existing building on the site.

Designed by Ryder Architecture and engineer Arup, the building provides a specialist location for energy companies working to test and develop technologies such as photovoltaic solar cells, electrical energy storage solutions, and new thermal heating systems.

The Energy Centre was funded by the Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, which contributed £6.8m from the Local Growth Fund, awarded as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal.

The facility is spread across three floors and includes offices, 7m-high industrial test bays, and an extensive suite of equipment to support energy testing.

PowerHouse Energy Group has entered into a Heads of Terms agreement with the University, to become the first commercial tenant of the Energy Centre, researching gasification.

The facility will open later this year.

Prof Joe Howe, executive director and professor of the Thornton Energy Research Institute, said: “The Energy Centre will promote growth and acceleration in the development and exploitation of technologies for the energy market and is a flagship innovation project of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, of which Thornton is a designated site. This project forms part of a wider energy focus for Thornton Science Park, and indeed the region, ensuring the site is ideally placed to anticipate and fulfil the needs of the Government’s recently announced Industrial Strategy.”

PROTOS is open for business

Invited guests and partners joined Andrew Percy MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, to formally cut the ribbon at the 134-acre strategic development site near Ellesmere Port.
The launch of Protos coincides with renewed vigour in Northern Powerhouse investment and the launch of the Government’s green paper on Building our Industrial Strategy.

With £170 million already committed, further £500 million investment planned
to begin this year and long-term potential to bring £1.5 billion to the region, Protos is driving international interest in the surrounding industrial heartland.
We’d like to thank all those that joined
us for the celebration.

Cheshire and Warrington LEP welcomes launch of new £700m energy hub in Ellesmere Port

Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) today joined Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy MP, and partners at Thornton Science Park to mark the launch of Peel Environmental’s £700m energy destination, Protos, and welcomed its vital role in the growth of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone.

As the only energy-focused development in the government’s Northern Powerhouse Investment Opportunities Portfolio, Protos will attract £5 billion of investment across 13 projects. Phase One, a £170 million investment in a 20MW biomass facility is currently being built, a 19 wind turbine wind farm is being commissioned with several plots ready for development.

The site is a key part of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone portfolio, which launched in April last year offering incentives to business locating within the EZ including business rate discounts and enhanced capital allowances and aims to significantly grow the area’s science sector.

The Protos launch is a significant milestone in the growth of the EZ and the area’s growing energy sector, which was further boosted this week by the government’s announcement of a £43 million investment for Cheshire and Warrington through the Local Growth Fund. This includes a £5 million Energy Innovation Fund.

Philip Cox, Chief Executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “The launch of Protos is a major development within the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone.

“Together with confirmation of investment in an Energy Innovation Fund through the Local Growth Fund and the government confirming its focus on science as part of the industrial strategy, the launch of Protos demonstrates further confidence in Cheshire and Warrington as a leading location for science.”

The 126-acre Protos site includes the biomass facility currently under construction and the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park, which provides important links to a skilled workforce.

House of Lords event showcases Cheshire’s Science Corridor

The Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone was the focus of a high profile event in the House of Lords this week as Cheshire Business Leaders, Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and EZ partners joined together with government officials and MPs to promote the strengths of Cheshire’s science sector.

The annual event, hosted every year by Cheshire Business Leaders to showcase the best of Cheshire business, welcomed George Osborne MP as guest speaker and was attended by government representatives, and business leaders in Cheshire. Other organisations represented included the Australian High Commission and Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

Robert Mee, Chair of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, gave an overview of the Science Corridor, home to the most significant science based assets in the North of England, and the success of the EZ six months into its operation, which has seen new tenants move into all of the major EZ sites, as well as speculative development begin in Ellesmere Port for the first time in years, as a direct result of EZ status.

Longer term, the EZ is expected to attract around 500 new businesses and 20,000 new jobs to Cheshire and Warrington.

Robert Mee, said: “The Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone is one of Cheshire and Warrington’s most exciting growth propositions, and one that is really set to put the area on the map and play an important role in rebalancing the economy through the Northern Powerhouse. Securing Enterprise Zone status earlier this year gave us a real platform to raise the profile as one of the best places in the country for science and innovation, and this event was a valuable opportunity to promote its strengths and successes.”

The Cheshire Science Corridor stretches across the Cheshire and Warrington sub-region and incorporates some of Britain’s most innovative and significant science based assets including Urenco at Capenhurst; Daresbury Science Park; AstraZeneca at Hurdsfield; and Jodrell Bank.

A portfolio of sites within the Cheshire Science Corridor have been granted Enterprise Zone status at Birchwood, Thornton Science Park, Alderley Park and across Ellesmere Port including at Protos and Hooton Park. The Enterprise Zone was launched in May 2016, and is expected to lever in approximately £100m of additional investment which will be reinvested in essential infrastructure to support business growth.

Financial incentives offered to businesses locating on the Enterprise Zone sites include providing significant help with business rates for science based and high growth companies and will allow new investors to benefit from enhanced capital allowances at sites in Ellesmere Port and at Thornton Science Park.