Researchers from the University of Bath are set to lead a new project that is designed to accelerate the impact of hydrogen fuel.
Working alongside colleagues from fellow GW4 Alliance universities of Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff, as well as others from Swansea, South Wales and Plymouth, the project will bring together academics, civic organisations, and industry partners.
Hydrogen technologies are expected to play an important role in decarbonising transport and energy to meet the UK government’s 2050 Net Zero target, and large scale aims to drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen.
GW-SHIFT – Great Western Supercluster of Hydrogen Impact for Future Technologies – as the project is known, is intended to become a key enabler of these priorities, supporting the UK transition to green hydrogen production. Green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis powered by renewable sources like wind, water or solar.
Professor Tim Mays, GW-SHIFT principal investigator, who is also co-director and GW4 net zero ambassador, from the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering, said: “GW-SHIFT will develop as a place-based supercluster to accelerate the impact of research and innovation in sustainable hydrogen technologies, in the South West of England and South Wales, to secure the UK’s net zero carbon emissions target for 2050.
“All partners are incredibly excited to be involved and look forward to working together over the next four years and beyond.”
The project has secured £2.5m from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It is supported by a range of partners including the Western Gateway, Great South West, West of England Combined Authority, Hydrogen South West, and SETsquared. GW-SHIFT will enable cross-sector partnerships to drive the development of hydrogen skills, infrastructure and technology.
Over the next four years, GW-SHIFT will support innovative research and activities to create a low carbon hydrogen supercluster focusing on key themes such as production, storage and distribution, conversion and transport.
Working with existing and identifying new partners the project will co-create low carbon hydrogen solutions for aviation and shipping, heating buildings, and the power sector. The Western Gateway Hydrogen Delivery Pathway calculates that investing in hydrogen infrastructure within the area could create up to new 40,000 new jobs and safeguard a further 60,000 existing jobs.
Professor Xiaohong Li, project co-director, University of Exeter said: “We are delighted to establish the GW-SHIFT hydrogen supercluster for the South-West of England and the South Wales to support these regions to accelerate strategic and high-impact uses for green hydrogen.
“Not only will the supercluster bring together the academic institutions, civic organisations, and key industry partners in the region, but in the meantime the co-created projects and collaborations will enable us to move further and drive innovations.”
Dr Joanna Jenkinson MBE, GW4 Alliance director, added: “The GW4 Alliance brings together academic expertise spanning the whole systems approach from hydrogen production, storage and distribution to energy system integration, policy and economics, public behaviour and acceptance. Working with civic and industrial partners sits at the heart of our mission to support a knowledge-intensive green economy.
“A thriving hydrogen ecosystem is dependent on innovation that draws upon the collective strengths of universities and business, industry and civic organisations. Our academics are at the forefront of new and innovative research and we look forward to working with a host of partners to accelerate the transition to sustainable net zero.”
The project is said to build on South West England’s and South Wales’ strengths and emerging hydrogen ecosystem, including the highest concentration of net zero economy businesses in the UK. The region is also home to the world’s leading aerospace cluster outside of the US, which is backing hydrogen solutions to deliver the future of long-haul flight.
Main image: Professor Tim Mays from the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering
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