Published: 06:00, 03 June 2021
| Updated: 16:29, 03 June 2021
Work is set to finally begin on a hydrogen plant dubbed the first of its kind in the UK on a disused BMX track.
Following a number of pandemic-induced delays, the scheme has been held up, with diggers still yet to move onto the three-acre site.
But now, Ryse founder Jo Bamford says the company is aiming to begin construction on the multi-million-pound facility before the new year, more than 12 months behind schedule.
“We are still very much focused on the project in Herne Bay,” he said. “We had hoped to start work last year, but as with many things, Covid has had an impact on our timelines.
“We’re in final discussions with key contractors, and hope to begin work as soon as possible, with the aim of the plant being open and producing green hydrogen in the second half of 2022.
“The plant will bring huge benefits to the local community, including the creation of jobs both during its construction and its operation.”
Ryse expects the scheme to create as many as 20 jobs. The fuel made at the factory will first be trialled on 20 London buses, but bosses believe it will have the capacity to power up to 300.
According to the firm, it is in discussions with Kent councils about launching zero-emission double-deckers – which will be fuelled by the new plant and built by its sister company Wrightbus – across the county.
Mr Bamford added: “The plant will put the area at the forefront of an exciting and emerging green energy sector that’s set to continue to grow as the UK turns to innovation to reach its net-zero ambitions.
“We’re keen to link with the University of Kent to offer training and research opportunities to students, who will benefit from working with the latest technology in this sector.”
The plant - previously described by bosses as "the first commercial-scale hydrogen facility in the UK" - will be the latest source of renewable energy in Herne Bay.
It is set to join the solar farm in Owl’s Hatch Road and the Kentish Flats Wind Farm off the coast.
Several hundred more solar panels, which will power 5,000 homes a year, are set to be erected on a 66-acre plot off the A299 Thanet Way.