A trade body for the UK’s energy networks says plans to invest in the roll-out of hydrogen across the UK - with Teesside set to be a key player - could create 25,000 jobs.

The Energy Network Association said that around 17,000 of these jobs could be focused in Britain’s industrial clusters as the industry plans to invest £4.4 billion in developing hydrogen grids to help switch industrial areas to a new fuel.

Around 9,000 people will be employed by the network companies themselves, with another 8,000 in their supply chains, the ENA said.

It is part of a total £6.8 billion of planned investment projects.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This report just underlines what I have been saying for years, that there are huge gains to be made in our region from embracing innovative hydrogen technology, including thousands of well-paid, good-quality jobs. 

“Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool are perfectly placed to capitalise on these benefits, as we’re leading the march on a range of exciting and cutting-edge hydrogen projects.

"Our status as the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub will see us become a hotbed for research and trials into cleaner vehicles and we’re already piloting them right here, right now, including at our airport.

"We’re working with BP on the UK’s largest 'blue' hydrogen project and pioneering the use of hydrogen in the existing gas network.

“The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating the jobs of tomorrow and thanks to our in-development hydrogen innovation campus, we’ll be at the forefront of future investment for years to come.”

Network companies have been pushing for hydrogen to become a major part of the UK’s 2050 target to reach net zero – that is, emitting no more greenhouse gases than the country absorbs.

While hydrogen emits no greenhouse gas when it is burned, an overwhelming majority of today’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas.

When the gas is transformed into hydrogen it produces carbon dioxide.

Proponents of this method say that this can be captured from the air and stored underground, but opponents say the capture technology is not as effective as claimed.

Hydrogen can also be produced by splitting water molecules. However this is an expensive process which requires much electricity.

Chris Train, ENA’s Gas Goes Green champion, said: “For the first time, this report sets out the sheer size and scale of the economic and social opportunities that hydrogen innovation can deliver over the next ten years, creating new green, hydrogen super-skills in communities and companies across the country.

Chris Manson-Whitton, of hydrogen project HyNet North West, said: “The UK has the innovation, skill and world-leading infrastructure to be a global leader in the delivery of the hydrogen economy.

“Our leading industrial partners are committed to decarbonising their operations and products.

"Hydrogen enables them to do that, safeguarding jobs and attracting inward investment.

"Network innovation underpins this transformation, creating thousands of skilled green jobs."