A hydrogen hub providing clean fuel for Brighton and Hove could be in the pipeline.
Green councillor Jamie Lloyd won unanimous support as he called for a feasibility study into Brighton and Hove City Council setting up its own green energy company.
He championed using hydrogen fuel when the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee met at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Tuesday 21 January).
Councillor Lloyd was inspired after after speaking with an engineer about the potential of the abundant fuel source which is the most common element in the universe.
In the past, hydrogen was collected using fossil fuels but the Withdean ward councillor said that it can be released through electrolysis by using sustainable energy from the Rampion wind farm.
Councillor Lloyd said: “We know that Brighton and Hove Buses are taking on 20 hydrogen fuel cell buses.
“Hydrogen used as a fuel in fuel cells is an excellent clean form of energy. The only emission is pure water.
“Hydrogen fuel cells are preferable in many ways to standard electric batteries.
“They cannot only be recharged much more quickly (at similar speeds to petrol engines) but they do not rely on materials such as lithium and cobalt which are not only finite but are mined in environments such as the Congo with profound social and environmental implications.”
Fellow Green councillor Pete West cited Warrington council, between Liverpool and Manchester, which owns a solar farm that can power a whole town.
Councillor West said: “By doing this, they are then able to do other projects and supply clean energy. They can also contribute millions to council funding.”
He said that the Warrington operation could supplement council funds by £100 million over the next 30 years.
Conservative councillor Lee Wares said that he was interested in the feasibility of the project and asked about the potential cost of generating energy from hydrogen.
He said: “Is it cheaper than any other form of energy? The feasibility study should look at what we can do with the council homes we are building.
“If it is cheaper then it will help people on low incomes.
“I’m also interested to see how it fits with the city-owned vehicle fleet.”
He added: “If the report shows this is something quite useful, we should go full steam ahead.”
Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou said that the opportunity had “great potential” to help the council reach its target of being carbon-neutral by 2030.
She said: “It will help us reach carbon-neutrality and address poor air quality.
“We have met with a number of businesses who want to explore hydrogen infrastructure in the city.”
It was unanimously agreed that a feasibility report should be prepared for the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
The report should outline the potential for establishing a hydrogen hub in Brighton and Hove, including practicalities, costings and potential locations.