Leading UK law firm Shoosmiths has joined a new group which has been launched to support the growth of the clean hydrogen economy in Northern Ireland as a founding member.
Hydrogen NI has been established to represent organisations with an interest in developing NI’s clean hydrogen economy.
Other early members include Phoenix Natural Gas, B9 Energy Storage, Solo Renewables, Green Energy Hub and Evermore Group.
An increasingly common way to produce hydrogen involves a process called electrolysis, where electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The new group said this presents a “unique opportunity” for Northern Ireland to take advantage of its “world-leading levels of renewable electricity”, which is mostly produced by wind power, to make clean hydrogen.
It will also create a sustainable use for wind energy produced at times when electricity demand is low.
The launch of the group comes at a “critical time” as Northern Ireland looks to a “post-Covid” green recovery.
The Department for the Economy is also consulting on options for a new Energy Strategy which is due to be published before the end of this year.
Hydrogen NI will provide a voice for the industry in Northern Ireland and will engage with government, elected representatives, local councils, the media and the public to raise awareness of the economic and environmental opportunities created by developing a clean hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen NI Committee Member John Palmer, a partner in Shoosmiths’ infrastructure and energy sector, said: “Northern Ireland is uniquely placed to use its high levels of wind energy to create clean hydrogen; and has the skilled workforce required to develop world-leading expertise across all areas of the hydrogen economy.
“If Northern Ireland can continue to innovate and position itself as a global leader in the drive towards decarbonisation it will result in significant foreign direct investment and create thousands of sustainable jobs.
“The UK Government expects hydrogen to deliver up to £4bn of private investment by 2030; while the EU believes investments in renewable hydrogen in Europe can reach €470bn by 2050.”
Department for the Economy’s Head of Energy, Richard Rodgers, said:
“Engagement with stakeholders from across Northern Ireland has been at the heart of the Department for the Economy’s approach to developing a new Energy Strategy, on which we are currently consulting and which we intend to publish later this year.
“Although still an emerging sector, clean hydrogen is set to play an important role in the energy transition and the shift to net zero carbon. Therefore, we welcome the launch of Hydrogen NI and look forward to working with the group in the time ahead as part of our wider engagement programme.”
Hydrogen NI will host an online launch event on Tuesday 25 May, which will include a presentation from Richard Rodgers, head of energy at the Department for the Economy on the role of hydrogen in Northern Ireland’s energy transition.