06 Jan 2022

High (air) five to Hydrogen?

How does the Hydrogen Strategy support the UK’s net zero goals?

Published in August 2021; The UK Government’s Hydrogen Strategy sets out the approach to developing a thriving low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK to meet the ambition for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. If all goes according to plan, 20-35% of the UK’s energy could come from hydrogen by 2050. However, the majority of all the hydrogen currently produced in the world is produced from fossil fuels, with clean energy sources two to three times more expensive. The Hydrogen Strategy follows the government’s Ten Point Plan – Plans include a Hydrogen Neighbourhood in 2023, a Hydrogen Village by 2025 and, the UK’s first town run entirely on hydrogen.  The Hydrogen Strategy sets out details of how the Government, Health and Safety Executive and Ofgem are working together to develop hydrogen heating trials to determine how hydrogen can be used as a way of decarbonising heat.

How realistic is hydrogen as an energy alternative?

The challenge is that there is little hydrogen available and there is less than 5% of hydrogen which currently comes from renewable sources.  Hydrogen clearly has the potential to support heavy transport and industry towards net zero ambitions and significant investment has gone into testing and developing infrastructure for hydrogen heat and gas production in both the UK and EU.

Is green hydrogen the future of low-carbon fuel?

Green hydrogen is hydrogen that is generated entirely by renewable energy. Green hydrogen has significantly lower carbon emissions than grey hydrogen, which is produced by steam reforming of natural gas and represents 95% of the market.  The UK has an opportunity to build a world-leading green hydrogen production industry, supplying domestic and European demand. The UK has a greater installed capacity of offshore wind than any other country in the world, with costs of new offshore wind falling by 50 per cent since 2015. With domestic champions leading the global electrolyser markets, there is significant potential for the value created by the roll-out of green hydrogen production to be fulfilled in the UK.

Are their safety implications involved in changing over to hydrogen?

Seven workers received fatal burns in the 2010 Tesoro Anacortes Refinery disaster where an explosion and ensuing fire occurred when a heat exchanger violently ruptured after a maintenance restart. Admittedly, hydrogen is far from ideal as a fuel. Its low density makes it hard to store and move around. And its flammability can be a problem, as a Norwegian hydrogen filling station blast highlighted in June 2019.  From a safety perspective – understanding metallurgy is key, inherent strengths at elevated temperature and limiting the effects of hydrogen. Several real-life studies are currently being conducted on hydrogen embrittlement relating to the material and behavior sets.   Cross industry and national collaboration and communication is continually required to improve safety processes in the future use of hydrogen.  HyDeploy is a pioneering hydrogen energy project designed to help reduce UK CO2 emissions and reach the Government’s net zero target for 2050. FutureGrid – Supports electricity distribution networks through the energy transition.

The £95 million UK government funding package and £10 million Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) comes from the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. See details of all 3 competitions, and how to register interest. As part of the £10 million IEEA, the government has awarded £1.7 million to the Carbon Trust to be the delivery partner for the programme.

Please contact us to discuss having a bespoke specialist environmental ISO 14001 gap analysis survey conducted in order to assist your organisation with options regarding transferring over to hydrogen as a fuel source.

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