A new partnership between Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and tech giant Panasonic is set to boost the region’s net zero ambitions.

GMCA will work with Panasonic to explore the deployment of the company’s RE100 technology at sites across Greater Manchester, including hospitals, in a first of its kind case in the UK.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and Mitsutoshi Shigeta, managing executive officer of Panasonic Corporation, signed the agreement this week.

They were joined by representatives from SSE Energy Solutions, Electricity North West, Manchester Metropolitan University and Carlton Power in signing the memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Burnham said the agreement puts the region at the ‘forefront of ground-breaking new technology to reduce carbon emissions’.

He said: “I’m excited for a future where our hospitals and businesses are powered through 100 per cent renewable energy, making a positive difference to the city region and the daily lives of Greater Manchester residents.

“Collaboration and innovation will be vital if we are to succeed in our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2038, and this partnership proves the benefits of our international approach to delivering net zero.

“Working with Panasonic and our other partners will also provide a strong foundation for more opportunities to bring green jobs, skills, and investment to Greater Manchester.”

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The agreement follows the landmark mission in December 2023, when a Greater Manchester delegation visited Panasonic’s Kusatsu site to see their decarbonisation efforts.

Mitsutoshi Shigeta, managing executive officer and vice president/energy business, Electric Works Company of Panasonic Corporation, said: “I highly appreciate Greater Manchester’s strong willingness to collaborate with us on the projects that will help achieve decarbonisation by 2038.

“We believe that we are able to make a wide range of contributions to Greater Manchester’s carbon neutral target in 2038 as a global company with the products and solutions that can contribute to decarbonisation and energy saving, beginning from hydrogen fuel cells.”

RE100 harnesses green hydrogen and fuel cells to supply 100 per cent renewable electricity in industrial and public sector settings.

The five-year partnership aims to strengthen research and innovation clusters by connecting people, ideas, and sectors, and to create jobs, attract investment, and drive growth – all of which will support Greater Manchester’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.

SSE Energy Solutions will work with the partners to identify potential trial sites and provide energy infrastructure and generation required.

Electricity North West will oversee the connection to the grid with enhancements and integration to the existing network, and Manchester Metropolitan University will contribute leading research and knowledge in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry.

Carlton Power plans to provide green hydrogen from its Trafford scheme, which has been backed by the GMCA and was offered financial support from the UK Government in December 2023.

Nehal Mehta, regionalisation director at SSE Energy Solutions, said: “We are committed to creating a collaborative ecosystem that drives meaningful change. As a leading renewables energy and infrastructure provider we are excited about contributing to Greater Manchester’s sustainable future and working closely with partners to ensure the success of this transformative initiative.”

Ben Grunfeld, strategy and growth director at Electricity North West, said: “Our world-class innovation and engineering expertise fits perfectly with the ambition of the region as together we lead the way internationally for a cleaner, greener future. This project is just an example of things to come as we leverage our global relationships for the good of the North West.”

Amer Gaffar, director of the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Manchester Met has supported the hydrogen opportunity for Greater Manchester for over a decade in line with the city regions ambition of becoming net zero by 2038.

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“As frontrunners in developing hydrogen technology, the new partnership will create opportunities for research and innovation together with ensuring the region benefits from sustainable and affordable hydrogen energy.”

Eric Adams, hydrogen projects director at Carlton Power, said: “Taking a collaborative, partnership approach, like Greater Manchester’s agreement with Panasonic, can help address the technical, economic and social challenges with the transition to net zero, and so will crucially help all of us to realise the abundant opportunities that net zero offers us today and in the future.”