UK Government pledges £390m to develop hydrogen technology

Article by Adam Duckett

THE UK Government has announced a £390m (US$468m) hydrogen technology fund focussed on supporting low carbon production and clean steel.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is creating a £100m fund to deploy low carbon hydrogen production across the energy system and encourage the private sector to invest in scaleup and deployment. It has also pledged £250m to support industry in moving to lower carbon iron and steel production and has issued a call for evidence on designing the fund. It wants the sector to use new technologies and processes to help meet the country’s net zero emissions targets.

The fund aims to maximise the longevity and resilience of UK steel, though the sector was hit with fresh bad news this week as Tata Steel announced it would close its Orb Electrical Steels plant in South Wales with the loss of close to 400 jobs. It said it could not find a buyer for the business and that converting it to produce steels for electric vehicle production would cost more than £50m and place it in a highly-competitive market facing high-volume production from overseas.

Though there has been positive news for British Steel after the Government announced last month that a Turkish buyer is in official talks to buy the business, which went into liquidation in May.

Hydrogen supply and switching

The Government is also providing £40m in funding for 20 projects under its hydrogen supply and industrial fuel switching programmes. The hydrogen supply feasibility projects that have secured funding include a Progressive Energy-led consortium which has received £0.5m to develop and deploy Johnson Matthey’s high-efficiency low carbon hydrogen production process. This couples a gas-heated reformer with an autothermal reformer and will be located at Essar’s refinery in Stanlow.

Writing for The Chemical Engineer’s hydrogen economy series in April, Johnson Matthey’s Principal Process Engineer Bill Cotton said the scheme’s flowsheet had several advantages over rival technologies including that the reforming reaction is conducted at higher temperature so converts more methane to hydrogen. 

ITM Power has also received £0.5 to for a feasibility study to design low-cost 5 MW polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) modules and a semi-automated manufacturing facility to produce them. These would be combined to produce 100 MW+ electrolysers systems for bulk, low-cost production of hydrogen.

Other projects that have been funded include the HySpirits project which aims to use hydrogen to supply low-carbon heat for gin distillation; and the Dolphyn project aiming to produce hydrogen from water by mounting electrolysers on floating wind turbines to produce hydrogen.

UK Climate Minister Lord Duncan said: “Developing hydrogen technology has the potential to not only reduce emissions from industry, but could also help us seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner economies – with the prize of up 2m jobs and £170bn of annual exports by 2030.”

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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