AQW 11715/17-22 – Hydrogen economy

Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to support the Northern Ireland hydrogen economy.

Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: Hydrogen policy lies within the remit of the Department of Economy.

Nevertheless, having recently met with a number of stakeholders and discussed Hydrogen opportunities with Executive colleagues from DfE, DfI and DoF, I am aware of the potential cross cutting benefits of Hydrogen as a replacement for fossil fuels within the areas of energy and transport. Both areas will be key themes, as we develop the Executive’s Green Growth Strategy and Delivery Framework. Hydrogen alternatives have potential to deliver significant carbon reductions, helping Northern Ireland move towards our carbon reduction targets while at the same time, promote economic growth through the creation of new green jobs. I expect Hydrogen development projects are likely to be relevant in terms of innovation in energy and sustainable transport, as part of the Green Growth Delivery Framework.

Therefore, in addition to leading the development of the Green Growth Strategy, DAERA will also be represented on a cross Departmental working group on hydrogen development to be established by DfE.

In addition NIEA Prosperity Agreements were launched in spring 2014 to enable NIEA to assist regulated companies to move beyond compliance. They are voluntary agreements through which NIEA and an organisation can explore opportunities for reducing environmental impacts in ways that create prosperity and well-being.

As part of this process my Department is already in active discussions with a number of companies in Northern Ireland wishing to sign Prosperity Agreements which contain an element of hydrogen energy to improve business efficiency and lower their carbon footprint.