THOUSANDS of buses and HGVs in the UK could soon be running on hydrogen – made in Runcorn.

The town, which already produces enough clean hydrogen to fuel 1,000 buses or 2,000 HGVs every day, is ramping up production to help reduce the amount of harmful CO₂ emissions on Britain’s roads.

“Hydrogen produces zero emissions – only water – when it is burned as a fuel so it is perfect for trucks, trains, buses and construction vehicles that would otherwise need to carry large batteries to travel large distances, but have no time to recharge. ,” said Nigel Bouckley, UK Country and Operations Manager at INOVYN.

“It is a vital tool in our fight against climate change.”

Driving the change will be chemical giant INEOS, which is investing ‘tens of millions’ at its INOVYN site in Runcorn so that it can start supplying hydrogen for the public’s use by 2023.

“Hydrogen is talked about as the fuel of the future, but the reality is it’s here,” he said.

“Hydrogen cars, trains and buses are all out there. What we don’t have are the filling stations. In Germany they have 150. In the UK we have 11.

“We need the government to help close that gap.”

INEOS business, INOVYN hopes that by 2023 that infrastructure will be in place because, unlike electric cars, refuelling is quick and easy.

The latest investment in Runcorn coincided with the arrival of the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus at the company’s Bankes’ Lane office.

It stopped off at INOVYN’s headquarters, en route to the crucial UN’s climate change summit in Glasgow, to help raise awareness of how hydrogen can safely power public transport.

Among the guests at the high-profile event was David Parr, Chief Executive of Halton Borough Council.

“We have been working closely with INOVYN for a decade and they convert aspirations into reality,” he said.

“What we see today is tangible evidence of something happening rather than just people talking about it.”

He said Britain was on the verge of another industrial revolution and Runcorn was at the forefront of it.

INEOS bought the Runcorn site in 2001. Since then it has halved emissions at the site – and already reached targets it set for 2030.

“It’s ironic that a site, which was once historically seen as part of the environmental problem, is now very much part of the solution,” said Dave Thompson, deputy leader of Halton Borough Council, whose grandfather worked there.

“Runcorn has every reason to feel proud of what’s happening here.”

Among the 800 employees, there is also a feeling of great pride in knowing that they can help to shape a better, cleaner future for all.

“This is an important step and these are exciting times,” said Mr Bouckley.

The site, which boasts the most modern chlorine plant in the world, has been producing hydrogen as a by-product for more than 100 years.

“We burn it in our boilers, but so could millions of others,” he said.

INEOS’ investment in its INOVYN business will be spent developing productions facilities at Runcorn so that the hydrogen can be purified and compressed before it is distributed to where it’s needed.

But INOVYN’s interest in hydrogen doesn’t end there.

The Runcorn site is also involved in a hydrogen project that has the potential to reduce CO₂ emissions by 10 million tonnes every year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.

On October 19, HyNet North West, as it is known, received crucial government backing to progress to the next stage of development.

As part of the project, INOVYN propose to develop 19 salt caverns in Cheshire so that vast amounts of hydrogen can be stored.

Each cavern is about the size of Liverpool’s grade I listed Royal Liver Building.

“The INOVYN storage project will be 1,000 times bigger than the largest gride scale battery storage project under construction in the world,” said Mr Bouckley. “It will store enough energy to make about 50 billion cups of tea.”