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UK REGIONAL PROGRESSION INTO ACCEPTANCE OF HYDROGEN AS FUEL FOR THE FUTURE

UK REGIONAL PROGRESSION INTO ACCEPTANCE OF HYDROGEN AS FUEL FOR THE FUTURE

May 19th, 2021

Fossil fuels are being taken off the global energy menu and are being replaced with alternative and cleaner fuel supplies that power communities and industries. A shared global acceptance in hydrogen is increasingly apparent in all forms of international media.

As hydrogen looks likely to be a new source of global and national energy, it invites the question as to what preparations are being made in all regions of the UK to integrate hydrogen into consumer’s everyday lives. Here’s a snapshot from the main regions:

NORTH WEST:

The North West of England aims to introduce a fully decarbonized industrial zone, to be powered by hydrogen with the specified aim of reducing harmful emissions from industry, domestic heat and transport.

The North West is viewed as ideal for the project owing to its existing industrial infrastructure, current technical skill base and alternative rugged landscape which maximises energy capturing potential.

The main objective in pursuit of a carbon neutral industrial zone is to create a regional hub of hydrogen production and distribution that replaces fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy in the North West of England. This potential hub has been identified as an oil refinery in Cheshire, North West England.

The hydrogen production plant will be located on the oil refinery and will be capable of delivering all commercial and domestic hydrogen needs. Additionally, the North West is home to various chemical industries which provide a foundation of knowledge and experience capable of attracting wider political and financial support to the scheme.

 

The scheme will support and contribute towards plans that include the construction of a new hydrogen pipeline and the creation of the UK’s first carbon capture storage (CCS) facility as well as all supporting infrastructure.

The HyNet North West scheme will provide the development and deployment of hydrogen technologies along with carbon capture storage, offering further experience and skill advancements.  Hynet is targeting the supply of 20% blended hydrogen with natural gas by 2023, this blend is estimated to provide fuel for 2 million domestic properties and commercial buildings across the north of England.

NORTH EAST:

The UK government is currently researching and approving plans for other large scale hydrogen production plants. BP has publicly declared proposals to construct a blue hydrogen production plant in Teesside, North East England.

BP believes the plant could produce as much as 1 gigawatt of blue hydrogen by 2030, contributing towards the 5 GW low-carbon hydrogen capacity set by the UK government as a target. BP estimates that 2 million tons of metric carbon dioxide will be captured stored and converted inside the plant every year.

Like the North West scheme, the North East blue hydrogen plant will provide cleaner energy supplies to domestic and commercial customers as well as fuel for heavy transport.

These plans are however indicative of the increased application towards hydrogen by the public as is additional financial investment from within both the private and public sectors.

SOUTH EAST:

This region contains a number of oil and gas works that are sprinkled across the South Eastern counties. These oil and gas works are ideal for the manufacturing and distribution of hydrogen.

An independent UK oil and gas exploration company and an American based supplier of modular systems capable of generating hydrogen on site, have signed a memorandum which intends to identify former oil and gas work sites that can be converted into hydrogen production and distribution hubs.

Although the sites are yet to be named, the locations thought to be considered are Weald Basin, Albury, Stockbridge, Singleton and Palmers Wood in southern England. These are either gas or oil sites.

SOUTH WEST:

The South West of England is endowed with long stretches of coastline. Cornwall has the longest stretch of any English county – 400 miles. Early analysis of the Cornish coast suggests that more than 80% of the seabed is suitable for wind generation installations, a renewable energy conversion that can be used to create green hydrogen.

Last year grants of over £70,000 were made to researchers attempting to develop projects in green hydrogen. More specifically the project will concentrate on enhancing next generation coatings for PEM water electrolysers.

If research is successful the energy efficiency and life span of the electrolyser will be increased, this will reduce the cost of electrolyser manufacturing increasing availability and therefore supporting the growth of a green hydrogen industry within the UK.

WALES:

The Welsh Assembly is working to prepare for transition in domestic and commercial energy supply. The South of Wales is introducing its own scheme, The South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) deployment project. This project aims to provide a cleaner industrial environment and has been recently awarded £20 million for decarbonisation schemes that will help introduce a hydrogen economy to South Wales and additional regional industries.

North Wales is developing plans on its own hydrogen hub in Holyhead which could cut 1,700 tonnes of harmful emissions per year by delivering in their place 400kg of hydrogenised fuel per day. Holyhead is seen as ideal for the location of a hydrogen hub as it is the UK’s biggest second roll on and roll off port, a major contributor towards national carbon emissions.

The discussion of a Holyhead hydrogen hub is further supported by generous offshore renewable potential, both tidal and wind, and both contributing factors in generating processed hydrogen. The North Welsh coast has a seemingly unlimited amount of high winds and swelling tidal movement which adds another point of beneficial motivation to the discussion.

SCOTLAND:

The Scottish government plan on publishing a hydrogen action plan next year and pledges to invest £100m over the next five years to support its delivery. The Scottish government aims to supply 5GW of low carbon hydrogen by 2030 and at least 25 GW by 2045. It is believed 5GW is a sufficient amount to power 1.8 million homes.

Scotland’s coastline and waters possess the raw offshore ingredients needed to generate renewable sources of power that can be converted into low-cost hydrogen blends of fuel. A large concentration of offshore engineering expertise and experience will be used to develop Scotland’s potential for harnessing tidal wind and wave power.

25% of Europe’s renewable wind recourses sit off and inside Scotland’s coastline. Using Scotland’s abundant off and onshore wind provisions can potentially see the creation of 33,000 new jobs and provide an additional £25 bn of GVA by 2045. Previous experience in Scotland’s large renewable energy market will be used to combine captured renewable wind and wave resources and converting these resources into hydrogen.

It is worth mentioning that due to the landscape of the country, centralized southern and Midland areas tend not to maintain the same renewable capabilities that northern landscapes maintain and therefore are seen as ideal for distribution hubs considering the vast populations and huge industrial areas each cover.

All coastlines and coastal waters around England are to be used to maximise potential for renewable energy recourses, as are all current and former gas and oil works which can be converted into hydrogen processing and distribution hubs.

However, a regional overview of hydrogen plans fails to mention smaller projects, like the two houses in Gateshead being fitted with boiler, hobs and all other attachments that allow for hydrogen to be used as its main fuel supply. These houses are being funded by the governments Hy4Heat scheme who have supplied a grant of £250,000 towards the project. Nor does it mention the studies being carried out off the Norfolk coast to discern the viability of regional green hydrogen production that its large coastal line can supply.

An internet search which carries the noun “hydrogen” within it will fire up multiple stories from big name companies which have recognized change is here and who want to play a leading part in that change. Further searches reveal that all regions of England are preparing themselves for a switch in attitude and habits towards energy consumption, meaning that it will not be soon until individual attitudes and habits will have to change also.

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