Greater Brighton: Hydrogen Sussex

Brighton & Hove City Council has been a lead player in identifying the potential of green hydrogen in the Greater Brighton City Region, setting up Hydrogen Sussex, a new body which supports and promotes the development of a hydrogen economy.


The challenge

In 2020, Greater Brighton developed an Energy Plan which articulated the ambition to position the Greater Brighton City Region as a hydrogen hub to transition to a clean hydrogen economy for transport, heating and power. Greater Brighton then committed to 10 environmental pledges, the GB10, highlighting five energy and five water priority projects. Hydrogen, as a new and unfamiliar energy vector, needed a new body to develop experience, coordinate partnerships and focus strategic work.

The solution

Hydrogen Sussex is the new body supporting and facilitating the hydrogen economy across Sussex. The focus of Hydrogen Sussex is on ‘green’ hydrogen, produced by electrolysis with renewable electricity, which therefore has very limited carbon emissions from production and makes the most of the region’s potential for renewable power. There is great potential and ambition for the development of a hydrogen economy and projects in the region due to:

  • natural resources
  • infrastructure (Gatwick and Brighton City Airports / Shoreham and Newhaven Ports and close to London)
  • engineering advantage
  • intellectual capital with the research excellence of two universities
  • exceptional public / private sector partnership.

Membership

Hydrogen Sussex membership includes local authorities from across Sussex and other public sector organisations including East Sussex Fire and Rescue, the two universities of Brighton and Sussex, Brighton & Hove Metrobus, Shoreham Port and Newhaven Port, Gatwick Airport and Brighton City Airport, international engineering consultancy Ricardo and major utility companies.

The high level of momentum has led to interest from organisations across a wider geographical range – east as far as Hastings, north to Wealden, and taking in the county councils of East and West Sussex. The group also works with Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Greater South East Energy Hub. The wide membership adds value and strengthens the partnership by bringing in special expertise, and most importantly allows aggregation of potential demand for hydrogen across a wider area.

Governance

The Greater Brighton Economic Board steers the work plan of Hydrogen Sussex, including development of a project pipeline and a strategy. The Greater Brighton Infrastructure Panel brings their unique expertise and advice and helps Hydrogen Sussex to position its work to overcome the wider infrastructure challenges of the City region.

Activities

  • Hydrogen Sussex held a successful launch in February 2021 with well over 200 attendees including Government ministers and a diverse range of stakeholders from across the private and public sectors.
  • The group has worked to raise the profile of hydrogen in the area with stakeholders including commercial partners.
  • Speaking at a major UK conference on hydrogen sponsored by Scottish Power.
  • Research with the University of Brighton on potential hydrogen demand and corresponding locations for hydrogen facilities, focusing on large vehicles particularly in public sector fleets. This includes emergency vehicles, refuse trucks, buses and coaches, and large maintenance vans.
  • Building a portfolio of potential hydrogen projects together with Greater South East Energy Hub and Coast to Capital LEP.
  • Developing a proposal for a Greater Brighton hydrogen strategy together with the University of Brighton, Brighton & Hove City Council, and Hydrogen Sussex. The aim of a strategy would be to give a clear focus and direction, establish a place-based perspective, and ensure that research and innovation is embedded in all hydrogen projects. It will also prepare the ground for significant funding applications and contribute to the goals of Building Back Better, by promoting sustainable recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

Next steps for Hydrogen Sussex

  • Further develop the regional evidence base, including economic data, that will help to support the business case and anticipated calls for funding bids.
  • Develop a regional USP and strategy to show Greater Brighton’s green hydrogen ambitions.

The impact

The Hydrogen Sussex partnership is already bringing together stakeholders in partnerships, has raised the profile of hydrogen in the area with stakeholders including commercial partners, and is helping to develop a vision for the City region.

Developing a hydrogen economy will maximise opportunities for a green economy; coordinate projects which cut carbon emissions and deliver cleaner air; and help to build skilled jobs to support a sustainable economic recovery.

Lessons learned

  • There is a high level of momentum behind hydrogen at the national strategic level and the local infrastructure and experience needs to build up to respond to this.
  • A wide range of knowledge and experience already exists among local partners.
  • Local authorities are in a good position to lead this strategic partnership.

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