More than 650 households and commercial properties in a village near Gateshead will trial the use of blended green hydrogen to be used for heating. Buildings in the village of Winlaton, near Gateshead, will be some of the first in the UK to trial natural gas blended with hydrogen. In total, 670 houses plus the local church, primary school and several businesses will all receive the hydrogen blend for a period of around 10 months starting early in 2021.
Edie 5th Jan 2020 read more »
Brian Wilson: Hydrogen ambition welcome, but let’s not claim world leadership in advance. Hydrogen is the new Holy Grail. The UK Government’s Energy White Paper gives it 175 references, three times the number for offshore wind and 10 times more than new nuclear. Then along comes the Scottish Government with its Hydrogen Policy Statement and the promise of £100 million over five years to advance its objectives. This was rightly welcomed though the accompanying hyperbole had a worryingly familiar ring to it. According to Scottish Renewables, we (or our children) can look forward to “310,000 jobs and £25 billion of gross value added by 2045”. It makes the 28,000 jobs promised to Scotland from renewables by 2020 sound like a modest aspiration by comparison, the only problem being that it did not happen. The inevitable headlines generated by last month’s announcement asserted that we will be “world leaders” in green hydrogen and maybe at some point we will be. But surely the lesson could be applied that walking before running and delivering before inflating expectations are sensible precautions. Against the background, I found a report from the Xodus Group consultancy, which accompanied the Scottish Government’s statement, to be commendable for its realism. While extremely positive about the potential for green hydrogen, it also pointed out the preconditions for delivery. One of these is that “a steady pipeline of early projects supported by a clear, financeable route to market will be needed to secure supply chain capability through to wholesale commercial deployment”. That is a measurable objective for the coming months and years. Its delivery should be closely monitored. We already have a few excellent projects. I recently visited EMEC in Orkney, which I had a hand in initiating 20 years ago. It remains a hugely impressive operation which has diversified, rather than just waiting for wave and tidal devices to test. This proactive approach has taken it into hydrogen research, production and utilisation across a range of intriguing projects, from powering small aircraft to distilling whisky. The project to dual-fuel the ferry between Kirkwall and Shapinsay and gain the necessary consents for hydrogen as a marine fuel has far reaching potential for the shipping industry – currently a massive polluter. Similarly, Surf ‘n’ Turf was the first project to harness wind and tidal power for hydrogen production and in 2017 the world’s first tidal-powered hydrogen was generated on Eday where it is stored, transferred to special trailers and shipped to Kirkwall. A fuel cell at Kirkwall Pier converts it back to electricity. It’s a terrific project with practical application. There are hydrogen-powered buses in Aberdeen, a heating system in Fife and a hydrogen hub in Stornoway. All this is good stuff but, as everyone involved would be among the first to recognise, they are light years away from the declared Scottish targets – 5 gigawatts of renewable and low carbon hydrogen by 2030. As we enter 2021, it is pretty obvious that 2030 is not that far away – any more than 2020 was far away when all these promises about the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” were being made a decade ago. If green hydrogen from offshore wind is going to fulfil the potential claimed for it, then every step along the way must be monitored and every lapse from the necessary timetable exposed. That will be the difference between a great success story and another false dawn.
Energy Voice 6th Jan 2021 read more »