BARROW could be home to Cumbria’s first low-carbon hydrogen hub.

A new private-public sector partnership has been established to build the hydrogen hub to provide local businesses with easy access to hydrogen fuel.

Hydrogen is expected to play a major role over the next 20-30 years in reducing the UK’s CO2 emissions, helping the country’s journey towards Net Zero.

The proposed 35MW commercial hydrogen hub, located on industrial-zoned land in Barrow, is being brought forward following the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between Carlton Power, one of the UK’s most experienced energy infrastructure development companies and local stakeholders, comprising the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Barrow Borough Council, Cadent and Electricity North West.

The project, subject to planning and financing, will see sustainable hydrogen fuel being produced at scale, creating opportunities for businesses in Cumbria to make Net Zero plans with hydrogen in mind.

The hydrogen hub facility will support the growth of renewable electricity generation by utilising it to produce and store hydrogen at times when renewable output is high, but demand is low.

The private/public sector collaboration is a response to the UK Government’s plans for a green revolution which includes hydrogen and fuel cell technology as one of its key ambitions.

Carlton would like to see the Barrow Green Hydrogen hub in operation by 2025 and intends to seek financial support for the scheme from the UK Government’s Hydrogen Investment Package (HIP), a multi-million-pound programme to encourage the growth of the hydrogen economy in the UK. Securing financial support from the HIP will be necessary to build and operate the Barrow Green Hydrogen project.

Eric Adams, Hydrogen Projects Director at Carlton Power, said: “We’re delighted to be working with key regional partners to bring forward this green hydrogen facility, which will help Cumbria’s decarbonisation efforts. It supports the Clean Energy Strategy for Cumbria.

“It is critical that projects such as this are brought forward to support investment by local companies in their infrastructure that will enable a reduction in the carbon emissions associated with their operations.”

Initially, the green hydrogen produced is expected to be used for industrial processes, with scope in the future for vehicle refuelling and residential heating.

Barrow Borough Council and the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership will be working with Carlton Power to identify and maximise the economic and environmental benefits that the scheme can bring to Barrow and the region, whilst Electricity North West will provide valuable insight into the existing power networks in the area.

Cadent, the gas distribution company, is already advancing plans to stop carrying methane – the fossil gas that is currently carried through its pipe network – and switch instead to low-carbon hydrogen.

Cadent, which manages thousands of miles of underground pipes in this part of Cumbria, expects the North West to be the first to do that at high volume, by the mid-2020s.