The Solent Cluster's net zero plan could boost jobs and growth

16 Nov 2023

Decarbonising Solent industries could create 18,000 new skilled jobs and provide an £11.9 billion economic boost in the region, according to a new report.

The socioeconomic analysis found plans to deliver net zero in the region could also sustain 70,000 jobs and vitally contributing £4.4 billion gross value added to the UK economy by 2035.

The report, launched at an event to mark The Solent Cluster’s one-year anniversary, illustrates the positive social and economic impact that transitioning to a hydrogen economy and utilising carbon capture and storage could deliver regionally.

SGN is one of more than 100 Solent Cluster members, including leading businesses and academics, which brings together decades of expertise in hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technology.

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Our Hydrogen Solutions Lead Fergus Tickell standing at a podium discussing the launch of a new socioeconomic report

Speaking at Wednesday’s report launch event, our Hydrogen Solutions Lead Fergus Tickell said: “This report reflects the fantastic opportunity large-scale hydrogen production has in shaping a future offering clear social, economic and environmental benefits for the Solent.

“We believe hydrogen has a key role to play in our journey to net zero. We’re working to transition our gas networks to deliver 100% hydrogen which will offer customers and policymakers a potentially low-disruption and cost-effective decarbonisation pathway for home heating and industry.

“We’ve been exploring the feasibility of how producing hydrogen in Southampton could decarbonise emission-intense sectors and we’re now working to deliver a pre-FEED for a 100% hydrogen pipeline to transport locally sourced clean energy to 800,000 nearby homes and businesses. Projects like this represent continued preparation of our gas networks to distribute greener alternatives to help meet Government net zero commitments.

“But we don’t want to stop here. Our ambition is to integrate the region to a wider core network to help create support for national socioeconomic benefits through hydrogen. We’re supporting National Gas’ Project Union, which is aiming to deliver a hydrogen backbone connecting the UK’s clusters, to increase energy security, reduce costs and maximise every opportunity to transition to a wider hydrogen economy.”

Key socioeconomic report findings

Job growth

Creation of over 18,000 skilled roles by 2035 and sustaining 70,000 jobs to help provide a robust employment landscape to foster regional economic resilience

Strategic investment

A potential investment of £12 billion signalling a commitment to infrastructure and economic growth

Economic contribution

Over £4.4 billion of gross value added to the economy by 2035, underlining the Solent's vital contribution to the UK

Emission reductions

Regional capacity to potentially capture and safely store up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 each year

The Solent Cluster's Chair Anne-Marie Mountifield said: “Decarbonisation will be a catalyst for transformative change as we seek to propel the region into a new era of sustainable growth. The importance of identifying the potential for thousands of new jobs and billions in investment, cannot be underestimated.”