Nuclear looks to hydrogen in a bid to secure its future. Global demand for hydrogen is predicted to soar over the coming decades – and nuclear plants may have a part to play in producing it. At the Salzgitter Flachstahl steelworks in the south-east German city of Salzgitter, engineers have been installing the “world’s largest” high-temperature electrolyser as they try to make their mark on global efforts to cut carbon emissions. By the end of 2022, the equipment is expected to have produced around 100 tonnes of hydrogen, to be piped into steelworks instead of hydrogen produced from natural gas, slashing carbon emissions. The €5.5m EU-backed demonstration project is being watched by more than just the steel industry; nuclear bosses are also looking at the project for lessons as they consider different methods for producing hydrogen from their plants. Making hydrogen at scale from nuclear plants is yet to be done. But the prospect is attracting growing attention amid pressure to develop lower carbon sources of energy, and as the nuclear industry seeks to head off doubters and secure its place in a rapidly evolving energy system. Global demand for hydrogen is predicted to soar over the coming decades due to its role as a clean-burning energy source that can replace fossil fuels in areas where doing so with electricity will not work, such as some plane journeys, heating and heavy industry. It is also backed by gas and power producers for whom it presents a market. Amid growing interest over the prospects for nuclear and hydrogen in the UK, a report by The Royal Society in October explored how future nuclear power stations could use excess heat and power to provide local heating systems, hydrogen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (direct air capture). That would have the added benefit of making nuclear plants a more flexible source of energy, which is key when it is hoped they will support a growing proportion of intermittent sources of power, such as wind turbines and solar panels. EDF, which is building Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the UK’s first nuclear power plant in 20 years, last week called for partners to develop hydrogen and direct air capture demonstration projects alongside construction of its next planned plant, Sizewell C in Suffolk, potentially using electricity from the existing Sizewell B. “A permanent facility supplied with low-carbon heat and power by Sizewell C could produce hydrogen at scale,” said the company, which is also involved in plans for a “clean energy hub” in Moorside, Cumbria that would produce power and hydrogen.
Telegraph 29th Nov 2020 read more »