INDUSTRIALIST Jo Bamford has noted the potential of firms that are developing hydrogen projects in Scotland as he launched a bid to raise a £1 billion fund to encourage investment in the sector.

Mr Bamford, whose family owns construction equipment giant JCB, has launched the fund in the hope of accelerating investment in what is known as ‘green’ hydrogen. This can be produced from water in a process powered by renewable energy.

He reckons faster adoption of green hydrogen will be key to meeting the target set by the UK Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 30250, net of amounts absorbed.

“It is our belief that hydrogen holds the key to reducing emissions - and there is a growing sense of urgency to act now,” said Mr Bamford.

“The UK has missed the boat on batteries, a sector dominated by China and the Far East, but we can be global leaders in the production and supply of hydrogen - an economy said to be worth $2.5 trillion (£1.8trn) in revenues by 2050.”

With the UK set to host the COP26 environmental summit in Glasgow in November, Mr Bamford believes the fund should be able to capitalise on growing investor interest in sustainability.

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The fund, called HYCAP, has already secured mire than £200 million backing. Mr Bamford is launching it with the Vedra Partners operation, which makes investments on behalf of a number of families.

Mr Bamford said his team had already identified more than 40 firms in the hydrogen space which will be evaluated for investment, including an undisclosed number in Scotland.

“Scotland has been pivotal in the hydrogen sector, taking the lead with hydrogen buses and ferries and not just understanding the opportunities that exist but embracing them too,” said Mr Bamford.

“We have identified a number of Scottish businesses for investment and we’re looking forward to creating a bold hydrogen economy north of the border.”

Mr Bamford owns Wrightbus, creators of what are claimed are the world’s first hydrogen double deckers. The first of these were launched onto the streets of Aberdeen in October last year.

The Ryse Hydrogen business run by Mr Bamford cut a deal last year to buy output from a new production hub that is being developed in central Scotland.

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The plant is being developed by Scottish energy company Hy2Go, and will be located at Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire. It will use an electrolyser to produce green hydrogen.

Vedra Partners’ founder Max Gottschalk said HYCAP will invest across the entire value chain, focusing on production, manufacture and supply, to put the UK firmly on the map when it comes to hydrogen. The fund expects to help unlock large-scale, long-term job creation.