Ellesmere Port has joined Redcar on the shortlist of places that will be the first to produce hydrogen at scale in the UK.
The 'hydrogen village' proposal, put forward by gas distribution network Cadent and British Gas, and supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council, would see the Whitby area of the town supplied with hydrogen - which would be used for heating and cooking instead of natural gas - from 2025.
Professor Joe Howe, Chair of the North West Hydrogen Alliance and Executive Director, Thornton Research Institute at the University of Chester, said the news was another "watershed moment" for the north west in leading the rollout of hydrogen in the UK.
"Much has been made of hydrogen as a way to cut emissions from industry, but it will also play a critical role in our everyday lives as a low carbon way to heat our homes," he said.
"Ellesmere Port is the ideal strategic location for a hydrogen village – closely linked to HyNet’s planned hydrogen production and carbon capture infrastructure. If picked, it will be a triumph to see the first 2000 homes in the North West using low carbon hydrogen."
Ged Barlow, Chief Executive of Net Zero North West said its recently published Cluster Plan report sets out a credible roadmap to the region becoming the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040, and highlights the vital role that hydrogen and carbon capture will play in decarbonisation.
"The creation of a hydrogen economy in the North West is well underway with leading project HyNet already developing the necessary infrastructure," he said.
"The North West being the location for the UK’s first hydrogen village is a natural next step and we strongly support the bid. With a history of innovation and a track record of collaboration we have the ingenuity and skills to deliver on this exciting opportunity and make net zero a reality."
The north west is in competition with the north east, which would see the current gas supply switch to locally produced hydrogen, made from renewable sources, in Redcar town centre, Warrenby, Coatham, and parts of Kirkleatham.
Up to 2,000 homes and businesses on Teesside could be powered by hydrogen energy, according to proposals announced by Northern Gas Networks, the gas distributor for the North of England.
Much like Ellesmere Port, Redcar benefits from proximity to existing, and growing, new energy infrastructure, including hydrogen and production storage facilities. A final decision is expected next year.