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Thornton Science Park entrance sign.

This work will safeguard and create thousands of local jobs.

As part of its own Net Zero by 2030 goal, the University plans to develop a HyNet Academy, with curriculum informed by the latest research and together with public and private providers of further education. This will equip current and future generations with the knowledge and experience needed to address the opportunities in the clean growth agenda.

HyNet North West, with the University as academic lead, has been announced today (Tuesday, October 19) as the collaboration which will begin decarbonising the North West and North Wales from 2025. The initiative will make positive and demonstrable change by reducing annual CO2 emissions by 10 million tonnes by 2030 – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.

The University has been working as part of HyNet on initial workforce planning and skills requirements to meet industry demands now and into the future, and a socio-economic impact assessment, which quantifies the financial, environmental and health benefits of the project.

In Ellesmere Port, close to the University’s Thornton Science Park and the area of focus for HyNet, skills levels are below the national average. So the University is working with commercial companies and Cheshire College South & West to provide upskilling programmes, which will support the town’s ambition to be recognised as one of the country’s transformational ‘SuperPlaces,’ identified in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

Professor Eunice Simmons, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “The University is a proud partner in HyNet’s success, as a proactive, high impact consortium, which will start to deliver national objectives on levelling up, decarbonisation and clean growth with immediate effect.

“The strength of this industrial and educational consortium gives it real traction to ensure global leadership in skills for industrial decarbonisation, clean hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. Since its inception, this project has enabled us to attract innovators, investors and problem solvers to design a low-carbon exemplar that other in the UK and internationally can learn from and replicate.

“Our early analysis of supply-chain development has helped facilitate implementation, ensuring the project was already at an advanced stage of readiness.”

Prof Simmons explained that enhancing the local economy and the student experience are at the forefront of the University’s involvement.


She added: “Across the University, students are determined we act to address the climate and ecological emergencies of our day. The University has a great track record in placing students with business and industry and our new Citizen Student strategy now aims to involve them at every level in our business, cultural and political communities.

“Through the Consortium, we are seeking every opportunity for HyNet to bring shared and sustainable prosperity to this region.”

Thornton Science Park is at the heart of one of the most important industrial clusters in the UK, from North Wales, through Cheshire, Merseyside, Manchester and Lancashire, which made it a compelling case for the Government’s decision makers.

Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director of the University’s Energy Research Institute and Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance, said: “It’s incredible news for HyNet North West. The region not only has one of the lowest cost and deliverable Carbon Capture Solutions, but has made significant progress in developing plans for a full hydrogen system to generate, store and distribute hydrogen to our job-creating companies in our industrial heartland.

“The Government’s decision will drive essential investment to deliver carbon capture facilities in the region – a key component of unleashing the hydrogen economy in the region and the UK. Crucially, this will keep up the pace to bring the first stages of the HyNet project to fruition by the mid-2020s.

“With COP26 on the horizon and the spotlight on practical steps to reach Net Zero carbon emissions, this is excellent progress. It will provide long-term confidence to big employers in the region and investors that, as well as the North West being a leading force in the Green Industrial Revolution, hydrogen as a clean source of power and fuel can, and will, be delivered at a mass scale sooner rather than later.”

HyNet North West is a low carbon energy project at the forefront of the UK’s journey to a Net Zero future, being developed by a consortium of world-leading organisations.

The HyNet North West delivery consortium includes Progressive Energy, Cadent, Essar, Inovyn, Eni, University of Chester, CF Fertilisers and Hanson Cement.

Greg Hands, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, today announced that HyNet, along with the East Coast Cluster, have been confirmed as Track 1 priorities for the UK’s Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) Cluster Sequencing Process, developing new technologies for decarbonisation and the production, storage and distribution of low carbon hydrogen energy.

CCUS is essential to meet the UK Government’s Net Zero ambitions and will form a new industry, utilising the carbon already emitted. The Ten Point Plan established a commitment to deploy CCUS in a minimum of two industrial clusters, competitively assessed, by the mid-2020s, and four by 2030 at the latest. CCUS will be crucial for industrial decarbonisation, low carbon power, engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies and delivering the UK Government’s ambition for low carbon hydrogen production by 2030.

From 2025, HyNet North West will produce, store and distribute low carbon hydrogen as well as capturing and safely storing carbon dioxide (CO2). It will decarbonise the North West of England and North Wales through the creation of state-of-the-art infrastructure and create. Additionally, it will maintain thousands of local jobs as well as enable long-term sustainability for businesses and financial security for communities across the region.

The University has produced a YouTube video, which has been sent to schools and colleges across the region, about COP26, HyNet, the importance of green skills to everyday life and making an impact.

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