Twin UK hydrogen plants part of CO2 clampdown on heavy industry

Posted on 18 Feb 2020 by The Manufacturer

Two of Europe’s first ever low carbon hydrogen production plants will be built in the UK and supplemented with an “industrial fuel switching programme” that could have an impact on major manufacturing industries, such as cement and glass production.

shutterstock CO2 chimney
In converting heavy industry from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the government claims it could remove some 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030 – Image courtesy of Shutterstock

The twin hydrogen facilities, currently earmarked for land on the banks of the River Mersey and in Aberdeen, will be funded using a portion of a £90m government package which also has scope for a raft of projects geared towards converting heavy industries from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The announcement forms part of a wider £500m innovation fund from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), for developing and harnessing technologies to combat climate change.

In converting heavy industry from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the government claims it could remove some 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030.

A third Gigastack project to develop technologies for harnessing wind power off the Grimsby coast for electrolysis and hydrogen production is also receiving investment.

In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a technique that uses a direct electric current to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction.

Breakdown of funding

  • The government has pledged £90m to tackle emissions from residential properties and heavy industry
  • £28m of that has been earmarked for a Hydrogen Supply programme for developing hydrogen production projects, including the two hydrogen plants in the north
  • 18.5m of that £90m has been set aside for an Industrial Fuel Switching programme and will be awarded to projects that move industrial concrete and glass production away from fossil fuels and onto renewables
  • Another £22m will go to leading UK scientists and engineers to conduct cutting-edge research into decarbonising industry, with a particular focus on emission-heavy transport and heating

Hydrogen is difficult and expensive to produce in bulk. Investment in projects to develop the technology could be “vital in the fight against climate change as a low carbon alternative to fossil fuels used by heavy transport and industry,” BEIS said.

Although there are no precise details as to the size and scale of the twin hydrogen facilities in the north, nor an estimated time of delivery, the announcement comes a fortnight after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set ambitious plans to bring forward the phase-out of coal to 2024.

The government has also pledged to eliminate the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

The Hydrogen Supply programme, the Industrial Fuel Switching programme, and a £24m local energy project to reduce housing emissions by up to 80% will help to create “up to 2 million green collar jobs across the country by 2030,” BEIS said.

Cranfield University, in collaboration with the Gas Technology Institute and Doosan, was awarded almost £7.5m for its contribution to the Hydrogen Supply programme – while Progressive Energy Ltd, in collaboration with Pilkington, Unilever and Essar, was awarded more than £5m for its role in the Industrial Fuel Switching programme.

*Main image courtesy of Shutterstock