Manchester Metropolitan represents North West in European green project

Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre to play key role in driving emission-free energy

The opening of the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, September 2018

The opening of the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, September 2018

The Fuel Cells & Hydrogen and Joint Undertaking – a €1.4billion programme to support research and innovation in green energy across Europe – has published a major international report, with Manchester Metropolitan University representing the entire North West region of England.

The University officially opened the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre (MFCIC) in September 2018, a £4.1m facility in the heart of the city centre, dedicated to developing new sources of sustainable, emission free energy and making it available to small businesses in the region.

The report, titled ‘Fuel Cells and Hydrogen for Green Energy in European Cities and Regions’, finds that fuel cell and hydrogen technology could create 30 million jobs across Europe, and enhance the continent’s economy by $2,000 billion in annual sales.

A more localised report, published in May 2018, concluded that hydrogen power in the North West of England could boost the regional economy by £1.6bn GBP and create more than 5,000 jobs.

 “The wide-scale adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technology will generate more jobs, a stronger economy, a healthier environment and better quality of life for everyone.”

 - Amer Gaffar, Director of the MFCIC

As well as job growth and the improvement of industry, the report finds that hydrogen and fuel cell technology can benefit cities and regions by boosting tourism, creating positive health impacts, encouraging research and innovation, and attracting new businesses and a skilled workforce.

Greater Manchester Whole System Smart Energy Plan

The Greater Manchester Whole System Smart Energy Plan, which is currently in development, will indicate that hydrogen and fuel cells have a role to play in the future whole energy system approach for Manchester.  

Manchester Met will lead and develop a hydrogen ‘workstream’ as part of the Greater Manchester Smart Energy Plan, which will also feature within the Local Industrial Strategy and support the delivery of the proposed Smart Energy Plan.  

The MFCIC, working with MetroPolis, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and a number of members of industry stakeholders, will look to accelerate policy development for hydrogen and fuel cells, and drive forward the impact of academic research on regional, national and international levels.

MetroPolis is a research-led think tank based at Manchester Met, which promotes evidence-informed policy based on the University's world-class research.

Opening of the MFCIC, September 2018
The opening of the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, September 2018

Amer Gaffar, Director of the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, said: “We are proud to represent the North West in this significant project that spans Europe, demonstrating that the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre is at the cutting edge of research and innovation in hydrogen and fuel cell energy.

“There are huge economic, social and environmental benefits to be gained from the deployment of this emission-free energy, and we aim to open up these benefits to as many people as possible, across Greater Manchester, the UK and the rest of the world.

“We’ll do this through working with business and industry on how to harness sustainable hydrogen power, going into schools to teach kids about green energy, and through shaping regional policy.

 “The wide-scale adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technology will generate more jobs, a stronger economy, a healthier environment and better quality of life for everyone.”

What are fuel cells?

Hydrogen and fuel cell technology creates sustainable electrical energy through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen – with water as the only by-product.

The technology could power homes, offices, factories, cars and public transport – making them more efficient and not dependent on the main power grid.

Fuel cells have higher efficiency than diesel or gas engines, operate silently and the only waste product at point of use is heat and water. They can be used to store energy efficiently, which other forms of renewable energy currently struggle to do.

Working with business, industry and schools

The MFCIC is at the forefront of this technology, and researchers at Manchester Met will share their expertise and £2.5m of dedicated specialist equipment with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Greater Manchester – training them in this new technology so they can discover and utilise its commercial and environmental benefits.

Over the coming months, MFCIC will run workshops to show SMEs how they can improve efficiency and open up new market opportunities by collaborating with researchers and incorporating hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

MFCIC researchers will also educate the next generation about hydrogen power and the importance of ensuring an environmentally sustainable future, visiting Greater Manchester schools with its HySchools project.

The MFCIC will create teaching materials, practical lab investigations that can be shared across the platforms that schools use to teach the curriculum.

Previous Story Budget 2018: What can we expect?