With the Net Zero target and a number of key Climate Change Committee reports emphasising the need for hydrogen in our energy system it is no surprise that the profile of “Green Hydrogen” has had a huge boost this year. We need hydrogen in our system for storage, heat, as a raw material and as a fuel and the UK is committed to renewables.
Green hydrogen refers to the hydrogen produced by the electrolysis of water - what makes it 'green' is that the electricity used in the process is sourced surplus from renewable sources. This hydrogen can then be put to a range of uses. whether this means being stored and converted back into electricity in times of demand, fed into decarbonised heating systems or used in fuel cells for transport. The development of hydrogen fuel cells is a rapidly growing area but the technology has been around for years and one of my former colleagues actually authored a book about William Grove the inventor of the hydrogen fuel cell in the 1840’s. The possibilities for this technology now boosted by the Net Zero momentum, are significant and presents powerful opportunities for industries heavily reliant on polluting fuels, as shown by a recent European partnership to develop a “megawatt-scale” container ship fuelled by hydrogen. The capacity to convert excess electricity into a useful source of hydrogen is what earns it its status as a form of ‘energy storage’.
Last week ‘Green Hydrogen for Humber’ won an initial share of £1 million funding from public body UK Research and Innovation and it can compete for up to £131 million more in the next round of funding. This project aims to develop renewable hydrogen on a gigawatt scale from electrolysis and will have at its disposal energy sourced from the North Sea’s offshore wind resources.
Green hydrogen also emerged victorious from the Government's £30 million funding announcement for hydrogen back in February of this year, having been awarded over £10 million of funding for two projects focused on producing hydrogen from offshore wind. One of those was the second phase of Gigastack: backed by £7.5 million of support it aims to develop the world's first electrolysers on an industrial scale with the capability of producing up to an impressive 100MW using surplus electricity from what will be the world's largest wind farm: the 1.4GW Hornsea 2.
there is another phrase that arrived seemingly overnight in the energy sector in 2020. That is ‘green hydrogen’ and, suddenly, it was everywhere.