University of Sheffield and ITM Power announce pioneering collaboration

  • The University of Sheffield and ITM Power have announced a pioneering collaboration to advance the hydrogen sector.

  • The collaboration includes an agreement for a new ITM Power Gigafactory to be built at the University of Sheffield Innovation District.

  • ITM Power and the University of Sheffield will also jointly plan and fund a National Hydrogen Research Innovation and Skills centre, which will undertake research into the safe and efficient manufacture of hydrogen using low or zero carbon sources of energy.

ITM Power has reached an agreement on Heads of Terms with the University of Sheffield to acquire a substantial site at its Innovation District for the company’s second UK factory in Tinsley, Sheffield.

The Gigafactory, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023, will manufacture electrolysers that split water into molecules of hydrogen and oxygen using renewable power. The resultant zero-carbon green hydrogen can then be used to decarbonise industrial processes, transport and heating, and will play a major role in achieving net zero. 

The partnership between ITM Power and the University will also include the development of a new National Hydrogen Research, Innovation and Skills Centre, which will lead to the creation of new jobs at all levels of the hydrogen sector as well as training and career development, and the promotion of hydrogen domestically and internationally.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield said: “We are very pleased to be launching this partnership with ITM Power. Hydrogen is one of the most exciting and promising clean energy solutions and ITM is at the forefront of green hydrogen manufacturing. This partnership is a milestone for both partners and the region in leading the way to achieving net zero through technological innovation.”

The new factory will also include office space for manufacturing staff and will be a low environmental impact building, using the best of current low carbon technologies. ITM Power will work closely with a developer, to be appointed once planning permission has been received, to incorporate low carbon footprint materials and facilities. 

Sir Roger Bone, Chairman of ITM Power, said: “The opportunity to partner with the University of Sheffield, recognised for its excellence in all aspects of industrial research, will enable both parties to train the next generation of hydrogen engineers and scientists, and continue to grow the company and the economy in the region. I look forward to seeing this relationship develop and prosper in the years ahead”.

The National Hydrogen Research, Innovation and Skills Centre, which will also be located at the University of Sheffield Innovation District, neighbouring ITM Power’s proposed new site,  is expected to include research into the safe and efficient manufacture of hydrogen using renewable energy and/or nuclear power; research into improving hydrogen system manufacturing processes; and research into the use of ‘digital twins’ (as already in use with ITM Power) to enhance manufacturing of hydrogen equipment. 

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Innovation at the University of Sheffield said: “The University of Sheffield has world renowned expertise in energy innovation, and we recently announced a new Sustainable Aviation Fuels Innovation Centre, adjacent to our Translational Energy Research Centre, both housed at the University of Sheffield Innovation District.  Our experience in bringing together academic research and industrial expertise is helping to solve the world’s biggest problems, and our partnership with ITM Power to advance the hydrogen sector will help make net zero a reality.” 

Dr Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power, said: “I am delighted to be working more closely with the University of Sheffield and that our second UK factory site is in Sheffield.  Both initiatives will support the local economy through job creation and supply chain support.

The planning and construction of our second, 1.5 GW capacity, factory marks the next step on delivering on our strategic plan to create a blueprint for a more automated PEM electrolyser manufacturing facility to be rolled out internationally.  Our focus now is on increasing utilisation and throughput at our Bessemer Park Gigafactory as we prepare for the next step change in capacity.”