The UK’s nascent hydrogen technology sector received a dual boost today, as the government announced fresh R&D funding and a flagship project to build a £900m hydrogen gas heating network took a major step forward. Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry will today visit Swindon’s Hydrogen Hub and Recycling Technologies Centre where she is expected to meet with a host of clean tech firms and announce plans for a new £20m hydrogen research fund. The Hydrogen Supply programme will aim to significantly reduce the cost of producing large volumes of low carbon hydrogen. Hydrogen can be produced from natural gas, a process that still results in greenhouse gas emissions, or via renewables-powered electrolysis, which can result in a low carbon gas. Advocates of the approach argue it can provide an ultra-low carbon source of power, energy storage capacity, and heat. However, critics have argued the cost of manufacturing green hydrogen will have to fall if the technology is to deployed at scale. The new £20m fund aims to address the cost challenge by supporting several new hydrogen process engineering designs and supply plans and enabling the demonstration of some of the key components in any new hydrogen production process. The news comes on the same day as gas grid operator Cadent publishes a major new report on its ambitious plans to build a hydrogen network across the north west of England. The report explores the economic impact of the £900m plan and concludes it would support at least 5,000 jobs while providing low carbon hydrogen to power industry and heat two million homes. It also flagged the potential to produce hydrogen for trains, lorries, and buses in the future. The 30 year plan – which is backed by the region’s two Metro Mayors, Manchester’s Andy Burnham and Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram – would initially centre on a new hydrogen production facility in Cheshire. Hydrogen from the site would then be piped to local industrial facilities and potentially blended with the region’s gas network in a move that would significantly lower the carbon footprint of heat generation across the north west. The hydrogen would be produced from natural gas, but crucially Cadent is proposing to capture the resulting carbon emissions for storage in old gas fields in Liverpool Bay and elsewhere off the north west coast. Dr Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), said the project highlighted “the immense potential of hydrogen and CCS to meet the big challenges facing energy in the UK – reducing emissions from domestic heating, industry and transport”.
Business Green 11th May 2018 read more »