EDF is exploring plans to produce hydrogen or to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere using surplus power and heat from its proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant. The French energy group is looking at deploying the technologies near the Suffolk power station as it seeks to bolster its case for the £20 billion project. The plans could lead to electrolysis being used to produce clean-burning hydrogen for use as a low-carbon fuel in industry or to heat homes. Proposals in their early stages also could involve CO2 being removed from the air using “direct air capture”, an experimental technology to tackle global warming that has been championed by Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s adviser. Critics of nuclear power point not only to its high costs but also to its relative inflexibility, as most reactors run at maximum capacity and have limited ability to adjust their output. As more cheap wind and solar farms are built, more flexible back-up will be needed. EDF’s plans would mean that when Sizewell C’s power was not needed by the grid, the plant could be deployed to produce hydrogen or to power direct air capture. The company believes that both these processes could be made more efficient using heat generated by the reactors, as well as electricity. Despite much talk about hydrogen’s potential role in decarbonisation, it is not widely used, in part because of the high costs of producing it. Last year EDF conducted a feasibility study into producing hydrogen from its Heysham nuclear plant in Lancashire. The project is understood not to have proceeded because of a lack of demand for hydrogen.
Times 31st Aug 2020 read more »