This article was first published by the North Wales Chronicle.
A six figure sum has been earmarked to help develop a multi million pound hydrogen hub on Anglesey.
Seen as a first step as part of a long term vision, the proposals would see the production of hydrogen at Holyhead as well as a fuelling distribution centre, with the chemical element known to be a zero-emission fuel for transportation, a long-term energy store as well as for heating homes.
The first of its kind in Wales, Holyhead’s Parc Cybi has already been mooted as a site for such a plant and to distribute that hydrogen to Holyhead Port and heavy transport users.
The hub would be expected to cost between £4.8m and £7.3m and create 20-30 initial jobs, helping to support over 500 in local businesses and set the scene for large growth as part of a Green Recovery.
But ensuring the island remains at the forefront of this emerging sector, the Welsh Government has provided £100,000 to fund the initial phase of the Holyhead-based project, which is to be developed by Menter Môn, in partnership with the Isle of Anglesey County Council under the Energy Island umbrella.
Dafydd Gruffydd, managing director of Menter Môn, said: “We are excited to be making this announcement and are pleased that Welsh Government has earmarked an initial £105k so that we can move forward with the technical design for the project.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Isle of Anglesey County Council, to help ensure that Holyhead is in a prime position to lead the way in a sector with so many opportunities for the wider region in terms of jobs, skills and the supply chain.”
He added the hub would fit in with other Menter Môn projects including Morlais, the proposed 240MW tidal energy scheme off the coast of Holy Island, for which a national planning inquiry hearing kicked off on Tuesday.
He added: “Faced with the prospect of ensuring a green recovery post pandemic, the time is right to make sure that hydrogen is part of efforts to decarbonise our economy.”
An earlier feasibility study commissioned by Menter Môn involving stakeholders across several sectors, identified employment and carbon reduction as key drivers, with the initial prospect of up to 20 new jobs and a further 500 in local businesses.
The hub is also believed to provide significant scale up opportunities and will incorporate the area’s growing renewable energy sector.
Ken Skates, Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales said: “Anglesey has the infrastructure, expertise, and importantly the willingness to move this agenda forward, so we are pleased to support this first step. I believe we can make hydrogen work for us here in Wales and I am keen to help ensure it can play a part as we strive to reach our net zero carbon target.”
Cllr Bob Parry is the Highways, Waste and Property portfolio holder at Anglesey Council said it was “an exciting opportunity in an emerging sector”.
“This new project has the potential to create significant economic benefits, including much needed employment opportunities for our young people”, he said.
The move comes days after the island’s MP spoke in Parliament over the benefits of hydrogen as part of a carbon free future.
Speaking on Thursday, Virginia Crosbie told the Commons: “In doing so we could enhance not just the nuclear agenda but also the production of hydrogen which is a by-product of nuclear production and will be critical to our future energy security. We must capitalise on this opportunity to develop local business and employment.
“In conjunction with my colleague, the MP for Copeland, Trudy Harrison, I have established the new Nuclear Delivery Group in which industry leaders are working together to develop the roadmap we need to deliver net-zero by 2050. I am consistently working towards raising Anglesey’s profile as the Energy Island.
“With the knowledge, skills and drive we have locally in enterprises such as M-Sparc, Anglesey has the opportunity to capitalise on the Chancellor’s commitment and develop our local research and development capacity.
“In doing so we could enhance not just the nuclear agenda but also the production of hydrogen which is a by-product of nuclear production and will be critical to our future energy security. We must capitalise on this opportunity to develop local business and employment.
“Along with my Welsh Conservative MP colleagues, I remain committed to making Wylfa Newydd happen and I have been delighted recently to hear the Prime Minister publicly backing the project. I am working hard behind the scenes to push the project forward as a key part of both the net-zero commitment but also the UK Government’s levelling up agenda.”