Mid and East Antrim Council's story
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has prioritised supporting the development of the hydrogen economy as part of its Economic Growth Strategy. Teaming up with local industry and academia, it has developed a number of hydrogen economy initiatives that support the development of this sector.
One such initiative is the Hydrogen Training Academy. Delivered through partnering Further and Higher Education institutions, including Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast Metropolitan College and the Northern Regional College; the Training Academy will offer courses from level 2 to level 7 across a range of hydrogen subject areas, focusing on developing the skills required to maximise opportunities in the Hydrogen and Clean Technology sectors.
This is a large-scale project involving complex technology, which secured almost £700,000 from a range of funders including the UK Community Renewal Fund to support development of the pilot programme over the period November 2021 to June 2022 and from private sector sponsors EPUKI, owners of Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations.
The aims of this project are:
- A well-trained workforce capable of embracing the emerging low carbon sector.
- Offsetting and support those sectors affected by the drive to net zero, allowing companies and personnel to pivot delivery in the new green economy.
The first course began in April 2023 with 50 trainees enrolled, and a further 50 on the list for the next intake.
Beyond the initial pilot period there are plans to further refine and mainstream the Hydrogen Training Academy provision as a core part of an expanding ‘green’ economy offering in the Borough. The 'green' economy offering includes proposals for the i4C Innovation and Cleantech Centre to be located at Saint Patrick’s Barracks regeneration site in Ballymena. The project will represent a capital investment of £23m, co-funded under the Belfast Region City Deal and is scheduled to open in 2027.
Useful learnings from Mid and Antrim Council
Working collaboratively is key: this project involves partners from across sectors, including the council, further and higher education institutions, local and national industry.
There is a huge demand for training in this sector. Students to the first intake of courses have travelled not only from other parts of the UK, but from across the globe to attend this training.