£7.5M (US$9.8M) in funding has been awarded for the next phase of Gigastack, a new renewable hydrogen project, as part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Hydrogen Supply Competition. Funds have also been related to the Dolphyn project that foresees production of green hydrogen from sea water on floating offshore wind turbines
The Gigastack project, led by ITM Power, Ørsted, Phillips 66 Limited and Element Energy, will show how renewable hydrogen derived from offshore wind can support the UK’s 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target.
Producing hydrogen has traditionally been associated with high carbon emissions, but by using renewable electricity – in this case from an offshore windfarm – the process of producing hydrogen from water (electrolysis) can be completely decarbonised. Energy-intensive industries and the transportation sector will have the opportunity to reduce the carbon intensity of their fuels by using renewable hydrogen.
As part of the initial feasibility phase of the Gigastack project, which finished in 2019, ITM Power developed designs for a low-cost modular 5-MW electrolyser ‘stack’, collaborating with Ørsted to understand the potential synergies with offshore windfarms and with Element Energy to undertake a market analysis and explore business models for the first industrial-scale 100-MW electrolysers.
For the second phase of the project, which has now received funding from the department for BEIS, the consortium will conduct a front-end engineering design (FEED) study on a 100-MW electrolyser system using staged installations with a nominal capacity of 20 MW.
The FEED study will detail the design of a hydrogen production system connected to a windfarm and industrial off-taker using ITM Power’s new generation of electrolyser stack technology, renewable energy directly from Ørsted’s 1.4-GW Hornsea Two offshore windfarm – which will be the world’s largest when completed – with the resulting renewable hydrogen supplied to an industrial off-taker, Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery.
A key objective of the Gigastack project is to identify and highlight regulatory, commercial and technical challenges for real applications of industrial-scale renewable hydrogen systems.
As part of the second phase, ITM Power will also install and trial both their next-generation electrolyser stack and the semi-automated manufacturing machines required for large-scale and high-volume manufacture of these new large low-cost stacks. This will help validate a complete production system capable of delivering hundreds of megawatts of electrolysers per year.
Ørsted vice president for hydrogen Anders Christian Nordstrøm said, “Creating renewable hydrogen with offshore wind really has the potential to decarbonise industrial processes, and what is needed now is to scale up the electrolyser technology and bring the cost down.
“We’ve seen this happen in offshore wind. With industry and government working together, there has been a rapid deployment and a huge cost reduction. This project aims to do the same with hydrogen. At the right cost, this technology has the potential to play a huge role in meeting the UK’s decarbonisation targets.
ITM Power chief executive Dr Graham Cooley said, “The second phase of Gigastack includes stack scale-up, volume manufacturing and a FEED study for a refinery deployment. The project will result in a scalable world-class product for the production of low-cost renewable hydrogen.”
Phillips 66 Limited Humber refinery general manager Darren Cunningham said, “Phillips 66 Limited is excited to be involved in the Gigastack project. It aligns with our record of developing new low-carbon markets within the UK and worldwide, following our innovative technologies, which are key to lithium-ion battery production and, more recently, our biofuels produced from used cooking oil.
“The Humber region is uniquely positioned within the UK for the large-scale deployment of renewable hydrogen. Direct access to existing offshore wind-power and a developed industrial base with hydrogen demand at Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery provides an ideal opportunity to develop a new renewable hydrogen market where the feedstocks are just water and renewable power.”
Responding to the announcement about the project, RenewableUK head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams said “Green hydrogen has the potential to be a game-changer in the energy sector, accelerating the transition to net zero emissions.
“This is a ground-breaking project, with what will be the world’s largest offshore windfarm set to provide renewable electricity to make green hydrogen, which can be stored to make our power system more flexible, or used as a clean fuel for transport, industry and heating.
“The UK is a global leader in renewables and innovative technologies like green hydrogen will grow our low carbon industrial base, creating thousands of green collar jobs, including opportunities for workers to make the transition from fossil fuels into the renewable energy sector and export opportunities worldwide”.
BEIS also awarded a £3.12M (US$4M) contract to the Dolphyn project led by Environmental Resources Management Limited.
This project concerns the production of hydrogen at scale from floating offshore wind in deepwater locations. It combines abundant UK offshore wind power with seawater to produce green hydrogen which can be piped directly to shore.
The Dolphyn concept consists of a large-scale floating wind turbine, nominally a 10-MW unit, with an integrated water treatment unit and electrolysers for localised hydrogen production. This funding will enable the detailed design of a 2-MW prototype.
The project foresees using desalinisation technology and PEM electrolysers that would feed hydrogen at pressure via a single flexible riser to a subsea manifold. The gas would then be exported back to shore via a single trunkline.