EDF leads UK hydrogen hub consortium

A consortium of industrial and academic partners led by EDF Energy is looking to design a hydrogen gas generation plant at Heysham Power Stations in the UK.

The innovative and exciting Hydrogen to Heysham (H2H) project is looking at generating low carbon, low cost, local hydrogen from Heysham Power Station to be used as a zero-carbon transport or heating fuel.

The project is funded by the department forà‚ Business, Energyà‚ and Industrial Strategy’sà‚ à‚£20m Hydrogen Supply programme and brings together the teams from EDF Energy R&D, Heysham Power Stations, Lancaster University, Atkins, the European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER) and EDF Group’s hydrogen subsidiary, Hynamics.

It runs in two phases: the first is a feasibility study which will be completed next month; and the second (subject to selection by the UK government) will be the pilot demonstration, starting in 2020 and running for two years.

The feasibility study will assess the technical and commercial viability of building a demonstration plant at Heysham and then the potential for replicating bulk hydrogen generation from low carbon electricity across the UK.à‚ 

The H2H plan is to take advantage of the low carbon, low cost electricity from the nuclear power station to produce hydrogen gas in bulk from electrolysers (Electrolysers are electrochemical devices which are able to use electricity to separate water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen).

The hydrogen produced could then be used for various applications including powering vehicles, supplying industrial processes and even to inject it into the UK gas network.

Heysham was selected for the H2H demonstration as the site has strong links with the community and businesses. There are also significant opportunities to use the hydrogen locally, replacing fossil fuel, helping the region deliver on its local climate change strategy, encouraging new industry and improved air quality.

Professor Harry Hoster, director of theà‚ Energy Lancasterà‚ research centre at Lancaster University, said: “Hydrogen, particularly low-carbon hydrogen proposed by this project, has significant potential to help the transformation away from fossil fuels and we recognise a number of opportunities for hydrogen to be used locally including areas such as transportation, grid energy, heating and industrial uses.”

Phil Sinclair, engineering manager at Heysham 1 power station, kicked off the project on site. He said: “The key parts in creating a viable hydrogen production process is having a supply of low cost, low carbon electricity, the ability to physically accommodate the equipment and a demand for the product ” all of which we have here at Heysham.

“As we look to the future and the changing ways in which we supply and consume energy, it could be that Heysham becomes a hub for hydrogen production, storage and supply. This will be invaluable as we seek other greener ways to power vehicles and heat our homes.

“We have great engineering and innovation skills here at Heysham, and across EDF Energy, and so it’s important that we explore new ideas,”

Xavier Mamo, director of EDF Energy R&D UK Centre said: “We are very pleased to demonstrate the feasibility of coupling hydrogen production and nuclear generation technologies to support the delivery of a net-zero economy.

“Affordable and low carbon hydrogen produced from centralised low cost nuclear generation has the potential to fuel a range of local applications, from industrial processes to low carbon transport.”

The potential uses of hydrogen in the European energy sector will be a hot topic atà‚ European Utility Weekà‚ andà‚ POWERGEN Europe, which are co-located in Paris in November.à‚ Click here for details of the event.


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