The new Royce Hydrogen Accelerator (RHA) will unlock the UK’s hydrogen capabilities by identifying R&D opportunities in materials for hydrogen, attracting investment for them, and pulling them through the UK’s research and industrial community. It is launching with the support of ministers in the Departments for Science, Innovation and Technology, Business and Trade, and Energy Security and Net Zero.
Hydrogen will play a part in decarbonisation, particularly of energy-intensive sectors including foundation industries, heavy goods transport, aerospace, marine, and manufacturing. Hydrogen energy supply chain technologies will be an integral part of a future energy system that is resilient and renewable. The UK needs to hasten materials innovations that enable this supply chain and secure an essential role in the global market.
The UK is ideally placed to grow an influential hydrogen materials industry. We have unique strengths in our world-leading R&D capabilities – including our world-class universities, robust IP legislation, and labour skills. These are supported by our extensive offshore wind energy sources, a distributed gas network, policy precedents, and our status as a leading financial hub.
These strengths prime the UK to become a key player in the adoption of hydrogen. We already have companies of all sizes across the hydrogen supply chain, including Ceres Power, ITM Power, Johnson Matthey, INEOS, bp, National Gas and Rolls-Royce. And the UK is home to government-backed research centres, like the UK Hub for Research Challenges in Hydrogen and Alternative Liquid Fuels (UK-HyRES).
The Henry Royce Institute (Royce) has designed the new hydrogen materials accelerator to channel opportunities through this ecosystem and advance the most critical hydrogen technologies within the UK. The RHA will directly unlock £150-200m of funding by highlighting R&D opportunities in the hydrogen supply chain and presenting these as a compelling, de-risked prospectus to domestic and overseas investors.
The accelerator will engage a network of key voices from government, industry, academia and investment to identify and fund materials challenge areas that are constraining the hydrogen supply chain. These challenges will bridge a gap in the innovation landscape by moving lab-based materials research into proven technologies executed at scale. By doing so, a vital, lucrative, and global industry in green energy will be unlocked.
The RHA’s board will work dynamically to assess each of these challenge areas – processing them to create a pipeline of specific, de-risked opportunities that attract investors to the UK. This process will benefit from an experienced board of senior leaders in industry, finance, academia and government who have a deep understanding of advanced materials.
Governments around the world are recognising the value of hydrogen to a decarbonised future energy system and have been making investments in this market. The pace of global progress on hydrogen technologies is increasing, and the accelerator is a proactive approach to attracting investment and enabling growth in the UK. The opportunities that the RHA produces will be embedded in UK-based stakeholder connections and have structured invested conditions, ensuring that value created from this R&D is captured here through ongoing UK-based economic activity.
The UK Government has welcomed the addition of the RHA to Royce’s portfolio of work – ministers at the Departments for Science, Innovation and Technology, Business and Trade, and Energy Security and Net Zero have voiced support for the accelerator.
George Freeman MP, Minister of State for the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology said:
“We are pleased to see the addition of the accelerator to the portfolio of work that Royce is undertaking, as materials R&D is essential for plugging the supply chain gap (including production, storage and distribution) to realise hydrogen commercialisation at scale and pace. Royce is well placed to convene and lead this work.”
Lord Johnson, Minister for Investment for the Department for Business and Trade said:
“My department heartily supports the ambition of the RHA to build a robust hydrogen materials supply chain and anchor it within the UK.”
Royce’s Hydrogen Challenge Lead and CEO of the RHA, Dr Robert Sorrell said:
“We are delighted to have ministerial endorsement for the accelerator. Their engagement proves the credibility of our intended model for attracting investment to materials development opportunities in the UK.
Over the last two years, we have been working closely with industry and academia to develop an in-depth understanding of the high-priority material challenges that are currently holding back the hydrogen supply chain. Our Materials for End-to-End Hydrogen report shows that we have unparalleled insight into the challenges that the sector faces.
This research identified in excess of £150 million worth of investment opportunities for hydrogen in the UK. We have already selected the most critical technology areas that the RHA will start to guide funding and attention towards. Our intention is for the accelerator to resolve these specific challenges and overcome the limits of materials capabilities that are currently creating barriers to growth across the hydrogen supply chain, from production and storage to distribution, use, and operational monitoring.
The RHA is ready to make this happen, and doesn’t need any additional funding from government. We are going to work closely with researchers, industry, academics, funders and the government to makes sure the RHA is a high impact addition to the hydrogen materials development landscape in the UK.”
Chair of the RHA, Jack Boyer said:
“The RHA has been designed to fit in with the existing hydrogen ecosystem in the UK. This thriving community has the backing and investment of government, and now the accelerator will support it to progress these crucial materials capabilities.
We will complement this work by connecting the ecosystem with a broad, international investor base. This will accelerate access to funds for all organisations doing relevant materials innovation work and boost the potential for the UK to become an influential player in the global hydrogen market.
We are pleased that the government has recognised the role that RHA will play in supporting HyRES and the hydrogen materials innovation community in the UK.”
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