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Hydrogen applications in Thames Estuary

The Thames Estuary has the capacity to support a hydrogen economy that will create 9,000 jobs, generating £3.8 billion in GVA and driving £2.2 billion investment in production capacity.

The UK has set an ambitious commitment for up to 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. The Thames Estuary has the capability to power this ambition and support the Government in becoming a global player in hydrogen energy, with 14 hydrogen clusters identified across the region.

View across the River Thames of Canary Wharf


Thames Estuary

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment



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Sector and market opportunity

The Thames Estuary’s unique critical mass will enable hydrogen adoption by off-takers across transportation, ports, airports and in construction projects.

In the immediate term, opportunities exist for hydrogen producers to meet demand for transport related end users such as heavy good vehicles (HGVs), public sector transport and non-road vehicles at ports and airports.

Businesses can also take advantage of the H2 Living Labs, which are set to launch in 2024 to 2025, for trialing, testing, and developing new hydrogen applications and products.

Growth prospects

The Thames Estuary Region has 4 ports, 2 major airports, 30 large construction projects and the highest concentration of heavy goods movements in the UK, creating a multi-modal opportunity for investment in hydrogen at scale like nowhere else in the UK. In the region, approximately 0.8 to 1.25 metres tonnes of hydrogen will be required annually by 2050.


The Thames Estuary is situated next to London, with international transport hubs, world-class universities and acres of brownfield sites ripe for development on its doorstep.

The Estuary is host to the Thames Freeport that is committed to supporting the development of a hydrogen economy and offers benefits for businesses relating to customs, tax, planning, infrastructure, and innovation.

The Thames Enterprise Park, spanning 412 acres, offers over 3.7 million square feet of development space, offering the potential for a variety of hydrogen-related activities within a well-connected industrial complex.


National and international flights are available from London City Airport and London Southend Airport, while two international airports, London Heathrow and London Gatwick, are within easy reach.

The region has excellent train connections, with routes from London to Essex and Kent, and Eurostar offering direct train access to Europe.

It’s home to 4 ports, including the Port of Tilbury, the UK’s third largest and principal port for London, and London Gateway, the UK’s most integrated logistics hub.

Local talent and skills

Imperial College London (ICL), University College London (UCL) and the universities of Kent, Queen Mary, Greenwich and Canterbury are supporting a steady pipeline of students and graduates educated for the hydrogen industry.

There are over 70,000 STEM students, and over 21,400 graduates in Greater London. The area is home to 1,462,000 workers engaged in STEM and adjacent careers, and over 250,000 workers in skilled trades occupations.

Region Spotlight
South of England


The region is home to 21 million people. It offers opportunities across a wide range of sectors from nuclear and aerospace, to life science and new technologies. There are vibrant clusters of expertise spanning 5G, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

View all investment opportunities in South of England

Research and expertise

The H2 Living Labs, an advanced-stage incubator and accelerator set to launch in 2024 to 2025, will offer early-stage hydrogen (or related) technology companies the ideal place to scale their innovation from R&D into manufacturing and commercializing, and to test their technologies in operational environments. The first lab campuses will focus on:

  • hydrogen end use in aviation
  • hydrogen end use in road and river transport
  • hydrogen production

Investors can also access leading research centres, such as UCL Energy Institute, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, ICL Sustainable Gas Institute and their Energy Futures Lab.

Further details

In addition to direct and indirect employment opportunities in the supply and distribution of hydrogen, there are opportunities for the Thames Estuary to support downstream jobs in the manufacture of equipment and appliances demanded by the hydrogen economy.

This could lead to a demand for an additional 5,300 jobs in the automotive industry and an opportunity for a further 1,750 jobs for assembly of electrolysers that might be supported by the Thames Estuary advanced manufacturing sector.

Enabling clean growth

The Thames Estuary region boasts many opportunities where hydrogen would be the best clean power alternative to fossil fuels (heavy goods vehicles, port operations, industrial applications, maritime and aviation uses) at scale which will benefit the region and the UK.

The Estuary would set the UK on its path to zero carbon by 2050 reducing carbon emissions by up to 5.9 million tonnes per year.

Local and national government support

In addition to the Thames Freeport, the Estuary region has several Enterprise Zones, which provide tax breaks and government support. These include the Royal Dock, Discovery Park Enterprise Zone, and the North Kent Enterprise Zone.

The Thames Estuary Growth Board works to identify and catalyse new opportunities in the area and has launched the Thames Estuary Hydrogen Route Map, which identified and evaluated the potential for an investable hydrogen generation, distribution, storage and usage infrastructure within the region.

Success stories

The Lower Thames Crossing (LTC)

The Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) is uniquely placed in time, location, and scale to lead the charge towards low carbon hydrogen. In July 2023, National Highways announced plans to buy over 6 million kilograms of hydrogen to use on the project, which will replace around 20 million litres of diesel. The move will reduce the carbon footprint of the LTC, accelerate the industry’s shift away from diesel, and kick start a hydrogen ecosystem in the Thames Estuary.


HyPoint is an international and multicultural innovation driven team that is pioneering hydrogen-powered zero-emission aviation, aeronautics, and urban air mobility. The company has a new research, development and production centre at Discovery Park, Kent which they launched last year as part of their commitment to advancing zero carbon-emission aviation in the UK.

Port of Tilbury, RWE, Mitsui collaborate on green hydrogen project

RWE, Mitsui and the Port of Tilbury are developing an innovative hydrogen project at the Port in Essex. This includes an initial study into a 10MW green hydrogen plant. The project will also look at options to scale up development over a ten-year period upwards of 100MW. The hydrogen would be used for port infrastructure and operations in addition to providing green hydrogen to the surrounding industry.

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