Anthony Browne, the Minister for transport decarbonisation, writes for The Northern Echo on hydrogen jobs and transport in the North East


This region has a long history of backing the next big thing.

Pioneering new ways to travel, trade and build, its step-changing innovations have shaped the way we live. George Stephenson’s railway advanced the technology which would eventually connect millions of people and businesses each day. While the iconic steelworks helped craft countless global landmarks.

People across the Tees Valley know how to pick a winner. That’s why they’re banging the drum for hydrogen fuel, a cleaner way to keep Britain moving. We’ve made progress in electrifying the bus fleet and rail network, but this technology may not be suitable for many heavier modes of transport.

That’s why the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport Hub is so important, with work well underway to develop hydrogen powered delivery trucks and airport support vehicles. Work that has been accelerated with the help of government funding totalling over £15 million to date.

Last year ULEMCo and Element2 shared £6 million to expand hydrogen innovation in airport vehicles and refuelling infrastructure. While just this week, fuel distributor Exolum Ventures received £7 million to build a publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling station near Middlesbrough.

Once operational, this could initially serve up 25 new zero emission vehicles making deliveries across the North East and beyond.

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Having successfully opened their first hydrogen plant for mobility in Madrid, Exolum Ventures will strengthen a growing base of experience and expertise in the Tees Valley. Substantial government support has proved a catalyst for local private sector investment, with BP and Protium Green Solutions announcing their intentions to build large scale hydrogen production in the area.

Fast becoming a lynchpin of the region’s economy, the hub is inspiring prosperity and growth while playing an important role in Britain’s Net Zero transition.

High quality, green jobs are opening up to local people, with estimates predicting that the hydrogen sector could support over 12,000 jobs nationally by 2030.

Tees Valley Combined Authority led by Mayor Houchen are putting £300,000 of government funding to good use by equipping college students with the skills required to grasp these opportunities.

Specialist equipment and teaching will help the next generation uphold a tradition of backing bold new ideas. With the power to cut carbon, boost energy security and help Britain meet its climate commitments, the Tees Valley knows that hydrogen is the next big thing.

Let's all sit up and listen.