UK energy company SSE have begun developing an underground hydrogen store in East Yorkshire in which to stockpile hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a renewable resource, and the energy company hopes to store the energy source to offer power to the UK during cold snaps, where wind is limited and the country experiences frost and snowy conditions.
The project is designed to produce hydrogen using renewable energy created in a 35 MW electrolyser which will be stored in a cavern roughly the size of St Paul’s Cathedral in Aldbrough, Yorkshire.
The hydrogen will then power a turbine which is capable of exporting power to the grid when demand is particularly high.
SSE has conceived the project, which could cost in excess of £100m, to demonstrate the technology and power of sustainable energy sources, before committing to bigger projects in the area (which we’ll cover below), which may require further pipelines, technology and other infrastructure.
The company is hoping to offset some of the costs by receiving government funding to support low-carbon hydrogen projects.
In the UK over the past few weeks, the icy conditions led to an increased energy demand as households up and down the country turned up their heating.
At the same time an unusual lack of wind slashed available power from wind farms, which forced the National Grid to pay higher prices to encourage operators of gas peaking plants to balance the fluctuation in demand.
Although hydrogen is an expensive energy source, since it requires such considerable amounts of electricity to create, it is considered a crucial energy resource in the efforts to steer away from fossil fuel reliance.
Powerguard Managing Director and renewable energy expert, Graham Chapman had this to say, “Although hydrogen is expensive in comparison to other kinds of fuel, creating a stockpile means that energy companies are able to deliver power during peak demand.”
This comes as news of a cap on how much power stations can charge the National Grid for backup electricity was being touted by Ofgem. The regulator is looking to curb excessive profits and is due to publish proposals in early 2023.
It’s thought that the grid spent almost £30m paying power stations to increase supply at short notice as temperatures dropped over the past few weeks. The Rye House gas-fired power station owned by Vitol Group, raked in as much as £6,000 per megawatt-hour, once again bringing power generation profits into focus again.
Gas-fired power stations are currently exempt from electricity generator levies, which were brought in by the chancellor in November, and assigned as vital energy producers.
SSE itself owns numerous gas-fired power plants across the UK and Ireland, as well as hydroelectric plants and wind farms, and reported more than tripling in profits due to increasing energy prices.
SSE reports that it hopes to have this project operational by 2025, before embarking on a larger hydrogen storage project planned for 2028 alongside Norwegian energy company Equinor.
The partnership is also looking to develop a hydrogen power station, which is slated to be the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power station. The pair will also be working alongside Siemens Energy to design and engineer the project.
The parent company of British Gas, Centrica, has also invested in an industry project which is expected to trial hydrogen production and applications at their peaking plant in Lincolnshire.