Hydrogen could power UK over winter as manufacturers back clean energy source


Britain could store enough energy in underground reservoirs during summers to avoid energy shortages in winter, according to a report.

Using standby electricity generated by wind and solar farms during the summer to create hydrogen would allow the UK to meet the increased demand for electricity during the winter months, according to a report of the Energy Networks Association.

The report, in which the trade body said there was enough space in old oil and gas fields to store the hydrogen that households and businesses need during the colder months, comes while manufacturers have supported clean energy source as a decarbonization solution for the transportation sector.

“The country’s wind and solar farms will have enough reserve electricity produced in the spring and summer, when demand is lower, to produce green hydrogen at the equivalent capacity of 25 nuclear power plants,” the ENA.

“The stored hydrogen would provide the same amount of energy needed for every person in the UK to charge a Tesla Model S electric vehicle more than 21 times in the fall and winter, when energy demand is highest, creating a clean energy buffer that avoids having to manage limited energy supplies in international markets.

Jo Bamford, executive chairman of Ryze Hydrogen and Wrightbus, which delivered the world’s first double-decker hydrogen bus to Aberdeen, Scotland last year, said the power source was the best way to decarbonize the industry transports.

“Hydrogen is something we should really be looking at because we have a lot of wind and a lot of water,” he told delegates at a seminar hosted by the Center for Policy Studies.

Last year, his Northern Irish company Wrightbus delivered the first of 15 hydrogen-powered buses, as part of a £ 8.3million (£ 11.3million) project between the company and Aberdeen , home to some of the world’s largest oil companies, a plan under which one of the largest hydrogen bus fleets will operate.

Mr Bamford, son of JC Bamford Excavators chairman Anthony Bamford, said Britain was offered a switch to hydrogen, offering a “wonderful opportunity” for manufacturers.

People are obsessed with batteries as the only solution.

Jo Bamford, Ryze Hydrogen and Wrightbus

The company founder said he worried that “people are obsessed with batteries as the only solution” to power transportation in the future.

“It also worries me a bit that we should ban the internal combustion engine.

“We make 100,000 combustion engines a year and we can run them on hydrogen and they could be zero emissions.”

He said “batteries are not the only solution” in helping to overcome the two main obstacles to the government’s net zero ambitions – changing people’s behavior around transportation and making sure the infrastructure is in place for it. adapt to change.

Creating hydrogen in the summer could reduce the number of turbines needed in the UK by 75% over the next 30 years, according to the ENA report.

Between 60 and 80 gigawatt hours of hydrogen could be produced by wind and solar farms during the warmer months, according to the report – the equivalent of about 25 nuclear power plants.

Special report

While the UK as a whole has been accused of failing to recognize the value of hydrogen, Wales is seen as a leader in adopting the energy source as part of a zero future carbon.

There are only 11 hydrogen filling stations in England, according to H2 Mobility in the UK, which is why the recent inauguration of a new 350 bar Fuel Cell Systems filling station in Milford Haven, UK of Wales, about 400 km from London, has attracted attention.

The station uses renewable energy to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen, then compresses it to make it usable in some cars.

The local council will use the site to test fuel cell cars such as the two-seater Rasa, which is under development at the Riversimple factory in Llandrindod Wells, Powys, Wales.

Simon Hart, Secretary of State for Wales and Member of Parliament for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said there was a growing awareness that ‘if we are to achieve our goals we have to reach out to all sources of energy. “.

He stressed that the potential of offshore wind power in the Celtic Sea would require some protection and that hydrogen could be an answer.

John Armitt, head of the National Infrastructure Board, said last year that if Britain had not put in place a clear hydrogen strategy, “zero carbon will not happen”.

“The issue of hydrogen is critical and we are constantly urging the government to step up the pace, to provide more leadership,” he said.

Mr Bamford used Germany as an example of a nation investing heavily in hydrogen after his government pledged in May to invest $ 10 billion to fund large-scale hydrogen projects, “while the UK is going to spend £ 240million trying to fit this into our economy, ”he said.

One of the biggest challenges in the renewable energy industry is how to store the excess electricity produced when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining which is not needed at this point.

At the scale needed to supply an entire country, batteries are seen as impractical, so engineers considered other ways to use wind power that is not needed to generate electricity anymore. late.

Hydrogen is a solution, because its molecules can be separated from oxygen in water, but the process uses a lot of electricity.

Producers can use the excess electricity to produce hydrogen during off-peak hours or even off-peak months, and then burn it when demand is higher, a process considered “clean” because it produces steam. ‘water.

However, critics fear that green hydrogen, which is clean to produce and burn, will lose out to hydrogen made from natural gas, which is clean to burn but emits carbon when produced.

Chris Train, champion of green gas at the Energy Networks Association, said the ENA report showed how green hydrogen could provide “a clean energy bumper that can protect us from fluctuations in international markets. energy, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – no matter the weather, rain or shine.

Update: October 12, 2021, 11:58 a.m.


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