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Bramble Energy opens new HQ and hydrogen innovation hub

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Bramble Energy has opened the doors of a state-of-the-art headquarters in Crawley, West Sussex, includes a hydrogen innovation and development hub, as part of a multi-million-pound investment.

Founded as a university spin-out, then developed in the garage of co-founder and CEO Dr Tom Mason, Bramble Energy has rapidly gained momentum with its revolutionary fuel cell technology based on cutting-edge printed circuit board (PCB) technology.

The business growth has led to the demand for a larger facility that can accommodate Bramble Energy‘s projected expansion and support the scale up of its technology to transform the hydrogen fuel cell industry.

The facility, Atrium Court, spans almost 34,000 square feet, more than three times the size of its previous premises. The facility is prepared to accommodate Bramble Energy’s growing workforce, which has increased tenfold from just eight staff in 2020 to over  80 today.

At the heart of Atrium Court lies the Hydrogen Innovation Hub, a world-leading research, development, and testing facility dedicated to hydrogen fuel cells, electrolysers and sensors. The facility can support every element of their technology development and critically, scale it up. Concepts can be taken through from the R&D phase all the way up to production-ready technology, as well as test fuel cells producing single digit Watts up to multi kW sizes required to service the heaviest of mobility industries.

Dr Tom Mason, Bramble Energy co-founder and CEO, said: “We are extremely proud to move into our new, state-of-the-art headquarters, which represents a major milestone for Bramble Energy. Our success and growth has been phenomenal in a very short amount of time, which is in no small part to our technology but also the support we have received and having a talented and dedicated team. Our world-leading Hydrogen Innovation Hub at Atrium Court will significantly contribute to levelling up the UK’s hydrogen and fuel cell testing capability. It will play a crucial role in our future development as we revolutionise the shift towards cleaner and sustainable energy solutions.”

Bramble Energy says its innovation in hydrogen fuel cell technology and design utilising its PCB-X Platform is solving the key challenges in the production of hydrogen fuel cells and accelerating the hydrogen mobility industry with the world’s first printed circuit board (PCB) hydrogen fuel cell. The patent-protected solution means it can design, manufacture, test, and ship a PCB fuel cell in a matter of weeks, at a game-changing significantly lower cost than the typical industry standard.

As well as raising equity finance through VCs, UK Government-funded initiatives have been well received. Bramble Energy successfully secured £5 million in funding in July 2020, raised an additional £35 million in February 2022, and in May 2023, was awarded £12 Million in funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre to provide its fuel cell technology to a hydrogen bus project.

Low carbon hydrogen to ‘play defining role’ in energy transition

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The hydrogen market has progressed rapidly in recent years due to its growing application in industries like the transport, industrial, energy, aerospace, defence, and construction sectors. Against this backdrop, low carbon hydrogen is gaining traction as a critical component to achieve energy transition and long-term decarbonisation goals, says a leading analyst.

The global demand for pure hydrogen stood at nearly 74MMT (million metric tons) per year in 2021, of which low carbon hydrogen accounted for a miniscule share of 0.89%. Low carbon hydrogen, including green hydrogen, has generated tremendous interest as a sustainable option to achieve long-term climate goals or net-zero targets.

Srinwanti Kar, Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Various countries such as the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Australia, and India have framed hydrogen roadmaps, strategies, mandates, and targets to develop a hydrogen economy in general and low carbon in particular. These plans are focused mainly on scaling up hydrogen production capacity, reducing costs, and bolstering supply chain infrastructure.”

GlobalData’s latest report, “Low-Carbon Hydrogen Market Report, Update 2023 – Global Market Outlook, Trends, and Key Country Analysis,” observes that during 2021-2022, the low carbon hydrogen sector took first big strides as a number of projects were announced as part of the strategy towards energy transition.

Kar continued: “Significant policy support and governments’ commitment to decarbonization is spurring investments in the hydrogen space. The momentum that has been built along the entire value chain is accelerating cost reduction in hydrogen production, retail, and end-applications.”

In November 2022, at COP27, the World Bank Group announced the formation of the Hydrogen for Development Partnership (H4D), a new global project to increase the deployment of low carbon hydrogen in developing countries.

Kar added: “North America leads the market in terms of low carbon hydrogen active production capacity, followed by the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Asia Pacific. As of February 2023, the global low carbon hydrogen production capacity was 1,698ktpa (Kilo Tonnes Per Annum), which is anticipated to reach 1,11,326ktpa in terms of high case scenario and 66,321ktpa in terms of low case scenario by 2030. Suitable planning at the funding level, constructive regulatory framework, and proper infrastructure may facilitate and accelerate the pace of projects.”

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As of February 2023, a total of 152mtpa (Metric Tonnes Per Annum) of the low carbon hydrogen capacity is in the pipeline, of which 1.9mtpa is in construction, 136.7mtpa in feasibility, and 6.4mtpa in front end engineering design (FEED) stage.

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Kar concluded: “The cost of low carbon hydrogen production is expected to decrease by up to 60% over the next decade because of the reduction in the cost of renewable electricity. Facilitating regulatory framework and demand visibility by adopting legal measures, accelerating public funding for low carbon hydrogen projects,advancing hydrogen infrastructure development, technological advancements leading to cost reduction, access to finance, and government mandates or targets to support hydrogen adoption are some of the key factors which will drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen market.”

EU Hydrogen Bank could bring renewable hydrogen costs below 1 euro/kg

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By Jake Stones, ICIS

ICIS data shows that renewable hydrogen could be sold for below €1/kg if a producer obtains the maximum support provided by the European Hydrogen Bank, according to the heads of terms for the bank published by the European Commission on 31 March.

The bank, which was announced in September 2022, aims to support hydrogen producers using an auction bidding system, which ranks bidders according to price per kilo of hydrogen.

Utilising the Innovation Fund, the commission will allocate €800m for the first auction for support from the bank, with subsidies capped at €4/kg of hydrogen. The hydrogen has to be aligned with the delegated act for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO), also known as renewable hydrogen, and projects must reach full capacity within three-and-a-half years of being awarded funding. Funding is granted once hydrogen production starts.

Successful bidders will then be granted a fixed sum according to the volume bid, over the course of ten years. Bidders cannot win more than 33% of the available budget, and must have a project size of at least 5MW.

€1/KG HYDROGEN

ICIS assessment data from 4 April shows that renewable hydrogen produced using a 10-year renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) starting in 2026 in the Netherlands would cost €4.58/kg on a project breakeven basis. For 10-year PPA renewable hydrogen, ICIS accounts for the recovery of the capital investment for the electrolyser over the duration of the PPA, meaning by the end of the subsidised period, costs would be recovered.

Given a hydrogen producer could receive the full subsidy of €4/kg, this would mean just €0.58/kg of hydrogen would be needed to achieve capital cost recovery, meaning the producer would need to charge buyers less than €1/kg to ensure project breakeven.

Comparatively, renewable hydrogen production in Germany commencing in 2026 and utilising offshore was assessed at €5.96/kg on 4 April, meaning post-subsidy hydrogen would be just under €2/kg.

However, given the competitive nature of the bid, namely that ordering is a result of lowest-bid first, there is potential that the full subsidy will not be awarded.

Further, the auction limit depends on volume and bid amount, meaning once the €800m is allocated, there will be no further subsidy for this round.

ICIS data shows that European hydrogen demand by 2030 is forecast to reach 10.3 million tonnes (mt) by 2030. If full subsidy was distributed to all bidders, it would cover just 200,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen, just under 2% of projected demand by the end of the decade.

The commission is aiming to hold further auctions however, meaning that the €800m is an initial starting point, not the limit, for the European Hydrogen Bank.

MARKET DEVELOPMENT

Alongside the development of hydrogen support and therefore expansion of hydrogen supply, the bank mechanism indicated the benefit of the auction system for driving competition. By awarding hydrogen to the lowest bidder, and by maintaining an auction limit of €800m, participants are encouraged to reduce costs of production where possible.

The heads of terms document for the European Hydrogen Bank notes that a fixed premium, namely a single subsidy figure provided over the course of 10 years for every unit of hydrogen produced, was opted for due to the absence of price transparency in the current hydrogen market.

By utilising a fixed premium, there is no need for a market reference price, the document outlined.

During the pilot for the European Hydrogen Bank, just renewable hydrogen is being targeted. However, low-carbon hydrogen could be included in future iterations.

On the basis of price discovery, the heads of terms noted that the auction type was referring to as “static”, meaning bidders bid a single price that is not changed. The alternative was 

noted as “dynamic” whereby bidders could receive some information on the activity of other auction participants, providing a component of price discovery.

The first auction will be held in autumn of 2023.

JCB to test ‘world’s first’ hydrogen-powered digger

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The world’s first hydrogen-powered digger will soon be on UK roads and building sites following recent government approval, helping to decarbonise the UK’s construction industry.

The UK government has given special dispensation, under a vehicle special order, that allows JCB to test and use its hydrogen-powered backhoe loader on UK roads.

The vehicle special order given by the Transport Secretary allows JCB to test its new hydrogen-powered machine on the public highway. This backhoe loader is the first of its kind and offers a pioneering solution to help reduce emissions on construction sites.

With 25% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions coming from the built environment, it’s vital the entire construction industry looks to decarbonise at every stage.

The government says this not only marks a new direction for reducing emissions but will help grow the economy, with JCB having already created 150 new jobs in the Midlands with the promise of hundreds more as the company’s hydrogen project advances. These developments also help to equip the country with the skills and expertise to not only reduce emissions but provide learning to would-be apprentices, future-proofing the nation’s skillset.

Technology and Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman said: “From cars to construction sites, industry has a vital role in decarbonising our economy and creating green jobs and prosperity. JCB’s investment in greener equipment is a great example of how industry can make this happen, using alternative fuels to generate sustainable economic growth.

“JCB’s prototype hydrogen-powered backhoe loader is an important first step in the construction industry’s efforts to decarbonise in what is a ‘hard to decarbonise’ sector. Hydrogen combustion machines can play a vital role in reducing carbon emissions in settings where other types of clean power may not be the most practical or efficient.”

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: “Securing this vehicle special order from the Department for Transport is an important first step in getting JCB machines that are powered by hydrogen combustion engines to and from British building sites using the public highway. It’s an endorsement that JCB is on the right path in pursuit of its net zero ambitions.

“JCB’s hydrogen-powered backhoe loader is a world first in our industry, a digger with a purpose-engineered internal combustion engine that uses hydrogen gas as the energy source. It’s a real breakthrough – a zero CO2 fuel providing the power to drive the pistons in an internal combustion engine, a technology that’s been around for over 100 years, a technology that we are all familiar with.

“I am delighted that the Decarbonisation Minister will witness for himself the first drive of a hydrogen-powered digger on the open road. It’s clear to me that, following this visit, he’ll appreciate the potential for hydrogen internal combustion engines to help deliver net zero targets more quickly, while adding jobs and contributing wider economic benefits to the construction sector.”

Hydrogen is just one of the many ways that the UK government is looking to accelerate decarbonisation. The recent announcement of second phase of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub builds on previous commitments to best explore how hydrogen can be utilised as an alternative fuel, whether that be through the use of hydrogen fuel cells on road or hydrogen internal combustion engines for off-road construction machinery.

The work seen as part of the hub in Tees Valley will work to address challenges such as providing refuelling infrastructure at scale and integrating that within a wider decarbonised energy network.

As hydrogen technologies develop here in the UK, it’s vital this knowledge helps shape the next generation of apprentices. During this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (6 to 12 February 2023), hydrogen continued to be a source of opportunity for new skills and jobs to be developed.

JCB’s expanding apprenticeship programme shows how apprentices can play a part in shaping a net zero future, building on the recent government commitment to deliver £300,000 towards the teaching of hydrogen skills as part of the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport hub.

Transforming flaring gas to clean hydrogen

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By Michael Stusch, CEO, H2 Industries

Gas flaring is now recognized as a major contributor to the emission of harmful gases affecting climate change and society by creating increased incidences of cancer in communities close to flaring sites. Sadly, flaring has been around for more than 150 years since the advent of oil and gas production, occurring when crude oil is extracted underground and natural gas is brought to the surface.

Particularly prevalent in areas with limited infrastructure, this gas is burned off seemingly without regulation. In fact, some 144 billion cubic meters of gas is flared each year, enough to power the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

The pollutants emitted are highly harmful to humans, according to a recent report by the BBC, and to the environment. Flaring emits black carbon, methane, and volatile organic compounds that pollute the air and have been linked not just to cancer, but deformities in children, lung damage, and skin problems. It contributes to over seven million deaths a year from air pollution. In addition, it is estimated that black carbon is second only to carbon dioxide in terms of its impact on global warming.

This is because it absorbs sunlight, warming the atmosphere, landing on ice and snow, and reducing its ability to reflect light. So, the big question is, what can be done? Fortunately, a solution is on the near horizon.

Overcoming energy waste

According to the World Bank, flaring is a monumental waste of a valuable natural resource that should be used for productive purposes, such as generating power, and that is what technology from H2-Industries, a global energy storage solutions company, can achieve. The company has developed a solution to convert these environmentally harmful flaring gases right at the flare of an oil production field to clean hydrogen and solid carbon. 

H2-Industries use pyrolysis technology to convert this environmentally harmful waste product into clean hydrogen. The hydrogen production process from flaring gas is CO2-emission free. Pyrolysis is when a solid (or a liquid) undergoes thermal degradation into smaller volatile molecules without interacting with oxygen or other oxidants. It is essential to understand that pyrolysis is not a phase change but a chemical process. It is a thermal degradation process that occurs under heat and degrades larger molecules into smaller ones.

The technology will be delivered in self-contained 20 or 40-foot ISO containers and can be pre-assembled in a semi-serial production and shipped for installation to the flaring site. The process provides clean hydrogen bound in liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC). LOHC are organic compounds that can absorb and release hydrogen through chemical reactions. LOHCs can therefore be used as a storage medium for hydrogen. H2-Industries has developed and commercialized the use of LOHC to make hydrogen handling safer and cheaper. With LOHC, the volatile hydrogen gas no longer needs to be cooled or compressed in a costly and energy-intensive manner to enable economical transport.

Any process is only as economic and ecological as its primary feedstock, and in the case of H2-Industries, the critical feedstock is a waste product. One crucial requirement for the process is electricity supplied by internal power generation units that do not use fossil fuel energy sources or the grid. CO2-free electricity can be provided either by hydrogen fuel cells that transform the hydrogen produced on-site into electrical power or Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) units that recover heat from the hydrogen storage in LOHC units and wasted heat from the water gas shift process to produce power for the entire process.

The process can produce up to 100 kg of clean hydrogen and 730 kg of solid carbon from a tonne of flaring gas. A typical, medium-sized oil platform releases 13,500 tonnes of flaring gas annually, and a single H2-Industries ‘Flare to Hydrogen’ container can produce 158 tons of clean hydrogen per year. By processing 100 million tons of flaring gas per year, the amount flared in 2021, ten million tonnes of clean hydrogen can be produced. The clean hydrogen for between $2 and $3 per kg, while market price levels are between $3 and $4 for grey hydrogen and $7 for CO2-emission-free hydrogen.

Clean carbon black

The only by-product of the process is solid carbon black that can be shipped for export to any place in the world using ISO container tanks. Carbon black is mainly used to strengthen rubber in tires. But it can also act as a pigment, UV stabilizer, conductive or insulating agent in various rubber, plastic, coating applications, and other everyday use, including hoses, conveyor belts, shoes, and printing.

Carbon black is usually produced in a high-temperature reactor through a tightly controlled flame-synthesis process that uses oil, and sometimes natural gas, as feedstock. As a result, the production of carbon black, as well as the production of its feedstock, contributes significantly to global warming and environmental pollution.

The H2-Industries process captures clean carbon black, not produced from fossil fuels, but from harmful production emissions with no additional CO2 emissions. This carbon black can be sold on the world market, where the current prices are between $1.5 and $2.5 per kg.

The hydrogenation process

It is crucial that any process can cope with the varying make-up of feedstock. Flare gas composition differs from flare to flare; therefore, the pure methane (CH4) needs to be separated with membranes that remove the various blends of carbon hydrates so that only pure CH4 remains. This CH4 is then cracked in a methane pyrolysis process into clean hydrogen and solid carbon with no CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere.

With pressures between 30 – 50 bar and catalysts specially developed for this application, the LOHC can be hydrogenated; hydrogen can be chemically bound. The resulting hydrogenated LOHC+ can be handled using the known gasoline and diesel fuel infrastructure. The hydrogenation process is exothermic. The waste heat developed in this way can be used in other processes, thus increasing the overall system efficiency. To dehydrate the LOHC+ to release the hydrogen from the liquid again, the LOHC+ passes through a dehydrogenation reactor, which contains the catalyst required for this process.

In contrast to hydrogenation, dehydrogenation is an endothermic reaction. Therefore, the necessary energy must be added and can, for example, be made available within the system by using the clean hydrogen itself or provided by other external heat sources. The dehydrogenated LOHC- can now be returned to the location of the hydrogenation and ‘reloaded’ with hydrogen. The cycle is closed. The LOHC itself is not consumed but reused many times over. The service life is also increased by the possibility of purification as soon as this becomes necessary after various cycles.

According to the World Bank 2022 Global Gas Flaring Tracker, reductions in absolute flare volumes and flaring intensity have stalled in the last decade, despite early solid progress. Impressive reductions in some countries have not offset concerning increases in others. The top ten flaring countries accounted for 75 percent of all gas flaring and 50 percent of global oil production in 2021. Seven of the top ten flaring countries have held this position consistently for the last ten years: Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Venezuela, Algeria, and Nigeria. The remaining three, Mexico, Libya, and China, have shown significant flaring increases in recent years.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the time is ripe for tapping into hydrogen’s much-vaunted potential contribution to a sustainable energy system. Hydrogen can be used in many more applications than those common today. Although this still accounts for a small share of total hydrogen demand, recent progress in expanding its reach has been strong, particularly in transport. It can also be used in houses, portable power, and many more applications. By utilizing LOHC technology from H2-Industries, harmful emissions from gas flaring can be avoided and turned into valuable and much-needed green hydrogen to increase the pace of the energy transition.

Hy24 closes €2 billion clean hydrogen fund

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The Hy24 joint-venture between FiveT Hydrogen and Ardian has announced the closing of its first impact Fund at €2 billion of allocations, exceeding its initial ambitions.

The JV claims to be the world’s first and largest infrastructure fund to invest exclusively in the entire clean hydrogen value chain.

The Fund’s creation has been supported by the founding anchor investors Air Liquide, VINCI Concessions, TotalEnergies, Plug Power, Chart Industries and Baker Hughes.

It has then attracted more than 50 prominent investors from 13 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia, including major industrial companies, corporations, banks, pension funds and insurance companies – industrial anchor investors, including LOTTE Chemical, Airbus, and Snam, Enagás, GRTgaz (together as one anchor partner), and the financial anchor investors AXA, Crédit Agricole Assurances, CCR, Allianz, CDPQ and JBIC – as well as other key investors, including Ballard, Schaeffler, Groupe ADP, EDF, Caisse des dépôts, DBJ and Itochu.

The Fund closes with a new key industrial investor the CMA CGM Group, and new key financial investors Border to Coast Pensions Partnership, Nuveen, ERAFP, Groupama, Société Générale Assurances, BBVA and Norinchukin. The Fund leverages a unique blend of sector know-how and financial firepower to position Hy24 as a true catalyst at the heart of the hydrogen ecosystem, with 50% of its commitment provided by industrial investors.

Pierre-Etienne Franc, co-founder and CEO of Hy24, said: “Hy24, through the Clean H2 Infra Fund, has rapidly gathered an impressive group of industrial and financial leaders committed to moving the hydrogen agenda forward significantly. With €2 billion of commitments, this fund will spur on the deployment of up to €20 billion in assets of strategic value to the industry in the next six years, performing for our investors and helping to decarbonize the global economy. This creates the right support for the new and critical hydrogen policy frameworks in our key geographies.”

Laurent Fayollas, Deputy Head of Infrastructure at Ardian and President of Hy24, added: “We are extremely grateful for the trust and support of our investors. The combination of Ardian’s unique investment and asset management expertise, FiveT Hydrogen’s industry knowledge, the diversity of our investors and our ability to leverage Hy24’s strong deal flow will put us in a unique position to grow this industry at scale into a decisive asset class.”

Hy24 is driving the scale-up of the clean hydrogen economy with first-mover investment in sustainable projects. It is helping to realise hydrogen’s global potential as the low carbon energy vector of the future by investing in the entire hydrogen value chain, from upstream projects such as renewable and low carbon hydrogen production to downstream projects such as captive fleet and refueling stations. The €2 billion Fund capital aims to be committed within the next six years. The Fund is an Article 9 Fund under European SFDR regulations, which classify funds that meet stringent environmental and social criteria.

The capital raised through the Fund has already started to be deployed: The Fund has participated in the €110 million fundraising of H2 MOBILITY Deutschland, the operator of Europe’s largest network of hydrogen stations. In addition, the Fund has participated in the €200 million financing round of Hy2Gen, an operator of production sites for decarbonized hydrogen and its derivatives, with CDPQ as a co-investor. The Fund has also acquired a 30% stake in Enagás Renovable, a leading developer of renewable hydrogen projects, subsidiary of Enagás, the Spanish Transmission System operator.

The climate crisis and geopolitical turmoil in energy markets require accelerating the development of hydrogen as the vector most suited to decarbonize heavy mobility and energy-intense industries. From the U.S.’s Inflation Reduction Act to the E.U.’s RePowerEU, governments around the world have acknowledged the need for the deployment of clean hydrogen at a scale and pace conducive to reaching net-zero ambitions. It is estimated that clean hydrogen solutions could represent up to 20% of the final energy demand within the 2050 net-zero agenda.

GreeNH3 secures UK government funding for hydrogen storage tech

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The revolutionary GreeNH3 project has promised to transform the ammonia production process and usher in a new era of green hydrogen storage and distribution.

Ammonia – produced using hydrogen and nitrogen – is critically important in the production of fertiliser and as a fuel or energy carrier for hydrogen. However, the world’s largest ammonia production technologies use hydrogen from fossil fuel sources, with the majority of the carbon emissions generated in the hydrogen production method.

The GreeNH3 project will use Supercritical’s proprietary high-pressure electrolyser – powered by renewable energy – to deliver hydrogen without the need for gas compressors. This will then be used in Proton Ventures’ NFuel unit where the green hydrogen, under extremely high pressures, is combined with nitrogen from the air to produce ammonia.

Moving ammonia production to a greener process powered by renewable energy will not only help reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels; it could also help stabilise future energy costs for industry by breaking the link with the volatile gas market, which has seen prices reach unprecedented levels in recent months.

ScottishPower will operate the pilot facility, providing operator and market feedback – it is already exploring the export of green hydrogen or ammonia from the UK to countries like Germany through the Scot2Ger initiative.

The funding from the UK Government, supplied under the Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 Competition, aims to support innovation in the supply of hydrogen, reduce the costs of supplying hydrogen, bring new solutions to the market, and ensure that the UK continues to develop world-leading technologies for a future hydrogen economy. It follows on from the first Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply Competition. The competition forms part of the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

Barry Carruthers, Hydrogen Director at ScottishPower, said: “Innovative solutions like this are driving forward the clean fuels revolution, bringing green hydrogen and ammonia to markets that may not have realised there is a greener alternative, giving them a chance to do their bit for Net Zero. We’re looking forward to working with our partners on this study and hopefully demonstrating a more sustainable, cost-efficient way of producing ammonia.”

Luke Tan, Chief Product Officer at Supercritical, said: “Supercritical’s electrolyser is a hand in glove fit with the Haber-Bosch process. This demonstration opportunity will prove that, enabling a new market for green ammonia.”

Nitish Gadgil, Project Manager at Proton Ventures, said: “Proton Ventures is proud and excited to partner up with Supercritical and ScottishPower for this innovative GreeNH3 project. Our modular NFuel unit produces green ammonia, which is the most promising green hydrogen carrier and we strongly believe that this study contributes in kickstarting the green hydrogen economy.”

Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “The UK is truly leading the world in hydrogen innovation thanks to exciting efforts like this. The government support received today will help to boost the development of hydrogen as the clean, affordable, homegrown superfuel of the future.”

Green hydrogen has potential to be a ‘game changer’

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Hydrogen’s noteworthy contribution to clean energy transitions makes it a game changer for the power industry, says GlobalData. The data and analytics firm notes that the power industry can leverage hydrogen’s potential as a cleaner burning alternative to conventional fuels in the evolving hydrogen economy.

GlobalData’s report, ‘Hydrogen in Power – Thematic Research’, notes that, while the cost of producing hydrogen from renewable energy sources is currently expensive, the momentum that has been built along the entire value chain is accelerating the cost reduction in hydrogen production, transmission, distribution, retail, and end-applications. Now is the time to scale up low-carbon technologies and lower their costs, so that hydrogen technology can be widely utilized.

Sectors such as oil refining and ammonia, methanol, and steel production have been using hydrogen extensively. Hydrogen will play a critical role in the transition to clean energy with the advancement of its applications in sectors such as transportation (fuel cell vehicles), buildings (hydrogen blending), and power generation.

Sneha Susan Elias, Power Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Currently, in the power industry, hydrogen plays a minimal role and accounts for less than 0.2% of electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency. However, a change is highly possible in the near future, as the mixing of ammonia can decrease the impact of carbon in existing conventional coal-fired power plants, hydrogen gas turbines, and combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT). When it comes to long-term and large-scale energy storage, hydrogen (in the form of compressed gas, ammonia [NH3], or synthetic methane) has a role to play in balancing seasonal variations in electricity supply and demand from renewable energy sources.”

Hydrogen is becoming popular as a low or zero-carbon energy source. The major growth markets for green hydrogen include green hydrogen replacing grey hydrogen and new markets such as energy storage, buildings, and transportation. Several countries have begun to consider a hydrogen-based economy as a solution to increasing carbon emissions, energy stability, and climate change issues. Green hydrogen presently has a small share in the production mix but is poised to increase, given the ambitious targets announced by countries. Through the Hydrogen Strategy for a Carbon Neutral Europe (EU Green Deal), the EU targets for a renewable hydrogen electrolyzer capacity of 6 GW by 2024 and 40 GW by 2030. India unveiled its National Hydrogen Mission in 2021 and aims for 5 million tonne (MT) green hydrogen production by 2030. Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy plans to set up hydrogen hubs regions wherein users of hydrogen are co-located to take advantage of existing users or potential hydrogen markets.

Elias concluded: “With global leaders in the energy industry in search of solutions that will help them to achieve decarbonization or enhance energy security, hydrogen is on track to becoming an energy vector and its use is gathering momentum.”

Glasgow hydrogen storage project gets green light

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A ‘first-of-a-kind’ hydrogen storage project near Glasgow has been backed by nearly £10 million in UK government funding, which it says will help create high-skilled jobs and drive progress towards decarbonising the UK transport sector.

The £9.4 million cash boost will see the Whitelee green hydrogen project develop the UK’s largest electrolyser, a system which converts water into hydrogen gas as a way to store energy. It will be located alongside ScottishPower’s Whitelee Windfarm, the largest of its kind in the UK, and will produce and store hydrogen to supply local transport providers with zero-carbon fuel.

Developed by ITM Power and BOC, in conjunction with ScottishPower’s Hydrogen division, the state-of-the-art facility will be able to produce enough green hydrogen per day – 2.5 to 4 tonnes – that, once stored, could provide the equivalent of enough zero-carbon fuel for 225 buses travelling to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh each day.

The announcement follows COP26, the global climate change summit held in Glasgow earlier this month, and supports the city’s ambition to become net zero by 2030. The Whitelee project will be the UK’s largest power-to hydrogen energy storage project, using an electrolyser powered by the renewable energy from the Whitelee Windfarm. This will create green hydrogen, a zero-carbon gas that is produced via electrolysis (splitting) of water, using renewable power.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said: “This first-of-a-kind hydrogen facility will put Scotland at the forefront of plans to make the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy, bringing green jobs to Glasgow, while also helping to decarbonise local transport – all immediately following the historic COP26 talks. Projects like these will be vital as we shift to a green electricity grid, helping us get the full benefit from our world-class renewables, supporting the UK as we work to eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change.”

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said: “This tremendous investment at Whitelee Windfarm illustrates how serious the UK government is about supporting projects that will see us achieve net zero by 2050. In the weeks following COP26 in Glasgow, it has never been more important to champion projects like this one, which embraces new hydrogen technology while creating highly-skilled jobs. We can, and will, achieve a greener, cleaner future.”

Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power Ltd, said: ‘We are very pleased to be a partner in Green Hydrogen for Scotland and this first project, Green Hydrogen for Glasgow, will see the deployment of the largest electrolyser to date in the UK.”

Jim Mercer, Business President, BOC UK & Ireland said: “The Green Hydrogen for Glasgow project is both innovative and exciting. It will help to shape the future of energy storage and demonstrate the value of hydrogen to Scotland’s growing low-carbon economy. This project will accelerate development across multiple disciplines – from production and storage, to transportation and end use.”

Barry Carruthers, ScottishPower Hydrogen Director, said: “This blend of renewable electricity generation and green hydrogen production promises to highlight the multiple ways in which society can decarbonise by using these technologies here and now. Building on the government’s plans to make the UK a world-leading hydrogen economy and ensure the sector has the skilled workforce it needs, an additional £2.25 million in new government funding will support the development of hydrogen skills and standards in the UK.

“This funding, under the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, will see the British Standards Institution (BSI) develop technical standards for hydrogen products, and a consortium comprising Energy and Utility Skills and the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, will establish new standards and training specifications to facilitate the training of hydrogen gas installers.”

Net Zero, carbon capture and hydrogen: Regulatory developments 

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By Matt Lewy (pictured), Energy Partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson

The UK government is pressing ahead with the development of the regulatory regime for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), following the latest suite of updated business models published in May 2021.

Ultimately the CCUS regime will look like many regulated utilities, with a fixed (or regulated asset base) return paid to operators and investors. That said, there is risk inherent in developing the transport and storage components of a technology largely unproven at significant scale. This is coupled with a need to ensure enough power plants and industrial emitters connect to those systems at an early stage, in order to make them financially viable.

The business model updates look at options for mitigating those risks, with the government ultimately providing backstop support. At this stage, it has not been confirmed who will be the regulator for the industry, and whether this role will be split between the onshore and offshore elements.

The government is running a procurement process, with nascent CCUS clusters in UK industrial heartlands bidding to become one of two priority, or track-1, clusters. These will work with the government in implementing the regulatory regime and developing the returns model both for the development and operational phases of each project. The intention is to apply lessons learnt from the priority clusters, which on current projections will be operational by the mid-2020s, to smooth the path for future investment.

The announcement of the priority clusters is pencilled in for 9 August 2021. There are probably five or six viable proposals under serious consideration. These include St Fergus in Aberdeenshire and Teesside. Whichever of the clusters are selected there will be a certain amount of levelling-up achieved, as there is a requirement to include a significant component of local supply chain content, with associated employment opportunities, within the cluster bidding process. In connection with this, the government has launched a supply chain mapping exercise, the intention being to ensure the UK becomes a market leader in the industry.

It is telling that the CCUS regime is significantly more advanced than that for hydrogen. The priority appears to be the decarbonisation of heavy industry, and learning to apply CCUS to natural gas. Gas power with CCUS will be used to provide electricity whilst the UK scales up renewable electricity generation and addresses its intermittency. Gas with CCUS will also be used in the production of blue hydrogen.

A further update on the use of hydrogen and its regulatory regime is expected from the government shortly. Whether this extends to more long term uses of hydrogen, i.e. outside the confines of localised clusters, such as in domestic heating and mass transport systems, remains to be seen.

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