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Hydrogen Sector

Volume 709: debated on Tuesday 22 February 2022

We are delivering on the hydrogen strategy that was published last August and will soon launch our £240 million net zero hydrogen fund and the first £100 million allocation round for electrolytic hydrogen projects and publish our sector development action plan.

Intelligent Energy in Loughborough is keen to build a hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory, hopefully in the east midlands freeport. How will my right hon. Friend help to promote hydrogen fuel cell technology and production in the UK so that we can lead the world in that technology, harness green jobs and growth and avoid having to play catch-up?

I thank my hon. Friend; it is always brilliant to get a question about that great hub of innovation and science in Loughborough, and it is brilliant to hear about Intelligent Energy’s plans to build a hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory in the east midlands. That is the kind of investment that will support highly skilled jobs in the UK’s nascent hydrogen economy and the Government’s levelling-up agenda. The Government provide support for fuel cells through various funds, including the Advanced Propulsion Centre and the automotive transformation fund, which have already committed over £38 million to 16 projects with a total value of almost £85 million.

Onshore and offshore, my constituency has more wind turbines than I can shake a stick at. Does the Minister not agree that we should generate hydrogen where the electricity is being made? Perhaps if he came to have a look at the wind turbines in my constituency, he would get the same delicious scones that I promised the Prime Minister when he comes to see the first space launch.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question; I think I have an existing commitment to go to his constituency. In fact, in my five months in this job, I think I have been four times to Scotland, and one of those visits was to the Whitelee wind farm, just south of Glasgow, to look at precisely what he mentioned . It is the UK’s largest onshore wind farm, which generates extra energy to produce hydrogen on-site, which will hopefully power Glasgow’s buses and dustcart fleet for years to come.

Does the Minister believe that the best way to stimulate the UK hydrogen strategy is to build hydrogen products that the public ultimately use, such as buses, trains and heavy goods vehicles? Will he commit to joining that up to the Department for Transport and encouraging it to get on with hydrogen bus development that will stimulate the entire economy?

The hon. Gentleman and I know that Northern Ireland has an incredible capability and tradition in bus making. He is absolutely right that hydrogen-powered buses have a big future. I mentioned Glasgow City Council’s commitment to move to hydrogen buses, thanks to the Whitelee wind farm; I imagine that we will want to do something similar in Northern Ireland. I look forward to further engagement with the Northern Ireland Executive on the topic.