Hydrogen Training Academy – supporting a greener future through skills and training

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has prioritised supporting the development of the hydrogen economy as part of its Economic Growth Strategy.  The use of hydrogen gas and particularly green energy is set to become a key growth driver in the future global transition to the net zero target by 2050.  Council has teamed up with local industry and academia to develop a number of hydrogen economy initiatives that support the development of this sector.

What is the Hydrogen Training Academy?

The Hydrogen Training Academy is delivering a range of hydrogen training for industry across a number of sectors via a combination of online, classroom and practical training as part of an initial pilot project. Academic specialists in hydrogen from the University of Birmingham are delivering Level 5 ‘Train the Trainer’ hydrogen training to representatives from the Further Education sector. The trainees, including representatives from Belfast Metropolitan College and Northern Regional College, will then draw upon their training to develop and accredit two Level 3 hydrogen courses for delivery across key sectors.

Higher Education partners Queens University Belfast and Ulster University are collaborating to develop a Level 7 postgraduate certificate in hydrogen power and are planning to expand their existing hydrogen Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses.

Academy training level and subject areas:

Level 5 Train the Trainer KnowHy* Hydrogen Production
Level 3 Course Development H2 Gas Safe
Level 3 Course Development Hydrogen Technologies
Level 7 Course Development
PG Cert Hydrogen Power

* KnowHy is an innovative, online, hands-on educational programme for technicians working with hydrogen and fuel cell systems.

The Learning Path

The development of the learning journey will cover 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.

Learning Pathway

This is a large-scale project involving complex technology which has 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.

H2 Gas Safe Lab

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The H2 Gas Safe Lab comprises the following equipment:

• Whitt gas mixer
• Sime Advance boiler
• Powrmatic mixed gas air heater
• Sime Revolution hybrid gas combi and heat pump boiler
• Yazaki absorption chiller and dry air cooler

The H2 Gas Safe Lab is the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland. The mobile ATEX lab located at Silverwood Industrial Estate, Ballymena is designed to support practical training in H2 Gas Safe and is aimed particularly at the NI Gas Safe Plumbing and Heating Industry. It will provide a practical  competence testing space for work with commercial H2 and CH4/H2 blend.

The lab consists of three boilers and various sources of head loads to allow the boilers to be actively demonstrated to learners. Each boiler is capable of using the mixed fuel source, with one utilising a hydrogen fuel cell. The objective of this mobile lab space is to provide a safe, reliable teaching space for use by Further Education Colleges and Private Training Providers throughout Northern Ireland to teach learners about the basics of dealing with Hydrogen gas mixtures.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Skills Lab comprises a suite of hydrogen training equipment, including:

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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Skills Lab

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Skills Lab will facilitate training and up-skilling which will impact a wide range of industries, including the energy, transport,
manufacturing, engineering and construction sectors. The practical training lab will be based at Northern
Regional College, Ballymena.

• 2 Heliocentris 50 Watt Fuel Cell trainers, a didactic Fuel Cell Trainer with traffic light module, DC/DC converter module / fuel cell module / electronic load module / hydrogen storage module.
• 6 Heliocentris Hybrid Fuel Cell Automotive Trainers in the form of RC cars.
• 8 Lucas Nulle Unitrain Fuel Cell Trainer Interfaces.
• The Fuel Cell Trainer teaches the basic principles of electrolysers, and fuel cell systems. It offers extensive experimenting capabilities, instruction material as well as predefined experiments.
• The series of FCAT 30 didactic hybrid (hydrogen/electricity) remote control cars provide trainees with hands on learning delivered using a range of activities.
• Lucas Nulle Unitrain interfaces provide didactic training for theoretical and practical competence on electrolysers and fuel cells, using measurement accessories and dedicated software packages.
• The purpose of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Skills Lab is to provide a hands-on, educational hub which provides an overview of this progressive technology and how it can be implemented.

Hydrogen Training Academy

The overall benefits of the HTA will be:
  • a well-trained workforce capable of embracing the emerging low carbon sector;
  • the training will offset and support those sectors that are affected by the drive to net zero allowing companies and personnel to pivot delivery in the new green economy

Next Steps: For Hydrogen and other Cleantech Training Initiatives

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 late 2026.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the courses on offer by the Hydrogen Academy or our specialist delivery partners, please contact: E: invest@midandeastantrim.gov.uk T: 028 2563 3345

Hydrogen Training Academy Brochure
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