Hydrogen gas energy plant plan revealed for Heysham Power Stations

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Plans to build a hydrogen gas generation plant at Heysham Power Stations have been announced.

EDF Energy R&D says it is leading the “innovative and exciting” Hydrogen to Heysham (H2H) project which is looking at generating low carbon, low cost, local hydrogen from Heysham Power Stations.

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

The gas can then be used as a zero-carbon transport or heating fuel.

The company recently launched its Generation Electric campaign to “build a brighter energy future for every home in the UK, using cutting-edge technologies which will accelerate the transition to a sustainable future”, and said this project fits that ambition.

The consortium brings together the teams from EDF Energy R&D, Heysham Power Stations, Lancaster University, Atkins, European Institute for Energy Research (EIFER) and EDF Group’s Hydrogen subsidiary Hynamics.

It is funded as part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s £20 million Hydrogen Supply programme.

It runs in two phases, the first is a feasibility study which will be completed by September 2019; and the second (subject to selection by the UK government) will be the pilot demonstration, starting in 2020 and running for two years.

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, as the electricity is low carbon and low cost, then the hydrogen gas is also low carbon and low cost.

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.

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.

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.

Climate Change Minister Lord Duncan said: “Using the power of hydrogen could help cut emissions, create jobs and make industrial processes cleaner and greener, benefitting the whole economy as we work towards net zero by 2050.

“This innovative project from EDF Energy R&D will help our efforts to roll out hydrogen at scale by the 2030s – a crucial step towards the end of the UK’s contribution to global warming.”

Phil Sinclair, engineering manager at Heysham 1 power station 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,”

EDF Energy operates the UK’s fleet of nuclear power stations and 35 wind farms making it the UK’s largest producer of low carbon electricity. This network presents a great opportunity to produce affordable low carbon hydrogen in bulk across the UK.

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.”

Lancaster University is working alongside key regional organisations and businesses, including potential end-users of hydrogen, to create a consortium of interested parties known as the ‘Lancaster Hydrogen Hub’.

Professor Harry Hoster, Director of the Energy Lancaster research centre at Lancaster University, said: “We have been working closely alongside our partners at EDF Energy as well as bringing together key local and regional organisations that could potentially benefit from the use of hydrogen in their activities.

“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.”