Cork’s ever growing potential as a hydrogen capital in Ireland is about to get another boost. The March 29-30 partner meeting of the Belfast Met led EU hydrogen project GenComm will be held in Cork with the theme, ‘Hydrogen, Ireland’s Opportunity’.

A number of key stakeholders from the Irish energy sector will make presentations at the event including ESB, Gas Networks Ireland, Irving Oil, EIH2, the IDA and Energy Cork.

GenComm coordinator Paul McCormack said: “Europe through initiatives such as‘Fit for 55’ and REPowerEu are seeking to simulate the operation of hydrogen energy markets within the EU. These actions are ‘path dependent’ on the EU hydrogen market developing in line with its scenarios.

Creation of hydrogen hubs

"GenComm is helping identify and map these paths and reduce the considerable uncertainty about the development path of the hydrogen market through the creation of hydrogen hubs and support tools such as the Enabling Support Tool. These actions are helping to accelerate the decarbonisation pathway to net zero by establishing mature hydrogen markets and infrastructure.”

Kieran Lettice, cluster manager at Energy Cork, said: “Energy Cork is pleased to welcome the GenComm project team to Cork and to co host with them an informative briefing on the potential role that hydrogen can play in Ireland’s energy transition, as well as the advantages of a green hydrogen hub in the Cork region. Many of our cluster members will have a positive role to play in the development of the hydrogen economy in Ireland and we’re pleased to facilitate this conversation.”

Gas Networks Ireland will be discussing how its existing skills and assets will be utilised in the development of hydrogen networks. According to Gearoid Fitzgerald, hydrogen commercial lead at Gas Networks Ireland: “We believe that Ireland’s gas network will be the lynchpin in Ireland’s future hydrogen economy by connecting hydrogen production, storage and end users within hydrogen clusters as they emerge at Cork and at other sites around the country.

"This could evolve into a method of and by securing energy system resilience through medium term and long-term inter-seasonal storage as well as giving Ireland the economic advantage of being able to import and export green hydrogen through the repurposing of one of the interconnectors with the UK.”

ESB will also be presenting at the event. Kevin O’Donoghue, ESB’s hydrogen development manager in Cork said: “Our early hydrogen projects will explore the various end uses of hydrogen and hydrogen-derived products, as well as promotion of innovation and pilot projects to expand the use of hydrogen to new customers and, ultimately, strengthen the demand for hydrogen to decarbonise sectors that cannot be electrified.

"We cannot overlook the benefits of adding value to renewables such as offshore wind through the production of hydrogen, and bringing industrial growth to the region.”

Jack Reardon, a project engineer at EIH2 (a Cork hydrogen company), will be presenting 'Green Hydrogen, An Opportunity for Cork', showcasing the immense green energy potential and its key role in enabling national/EU achievement of net zero. Denis Crotty, managing director at EIH2, said: “Green Hydrogen can play a key role in decarbonising Cork’s significant power generation and industry clusters, enhance energy security and create long-term, highly-skilled sustainable jobs.”

Integrating green hydrogen into operations

EIH2 is collaborating with Energy Cork, Hydrogen Ireland members and other key stakeholders to explore a Cork hydrogen valley. Nationally, EIH2 offers a specialised hydrogen consultancy service to ambitious Irish industry who actively seek to decarbonise their processes by integrating green hydrogen into its operations and achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability goals.

The current work around hydrogen in Ireland will come under the spotlight. Dr James Carton, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering from Dublin City University will address the event on ‘Hylight-Energy System Options Now For 2050’. 

Dr Carton is the lead of Hylight, a 25 industry partners and SFI funded project with the Irish Marine Renewable Energy Institute which is investigating the role of hydrogen to support decarbonisation on the island of Ireland. Dr Carton is also the chair of Hydrogen Ireland.

Another key speaker at the two day event in Cork will be Ivan Petar Yovchev, an analyst with Hydrogen Europe. Yovchev will give an overview on the work of Hydrogen Europe, hydrogen mobility and marine and port connectivity.

At the event there will also be an Irish launch of the GenComm EST, (Enabling Support Tool’ which went live globally on January 31, 2023. This key output of the GenComm project is an online tool that allows stakeholders to identify the ideal bus routes that are suitable for the use of hydrogen buses. In addition possible variants for economically valid mixed fleets, (hydrogen, electric and diesel) are identified.