Bessemer Park: ITM Power’s Gigafactory plays a key role in Gigastack
At the heart of the electrolyser systems to be deployed in the Gigastack project are the polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks that will use renewable power from Ørsted’s Hornsea 2 wind farm in the North Sea and break down water into its constituent molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. ITM Power will make these stacks in the UK, in Sheffield, at its new Gigafactory - the world’s largest electrolyser production facility with capacity for the production of 1GW per annum of electrolysers. These massive investments made-to-date underline the leading roles that ITM Power and the Gigastack project are playing in the UK’s energy transition.
Hydrogen is now at the forefront of the UK’s energy transition as the government looks to lock-in its goal of achieving a carbon neutral economy by 2050. Large scale projects such as Gigastack will help to make that goal a reality by using the UK’s abundant renewable wind power to produce zero carbon footprint hydrogen that will, in turn, begin to decarbonise hard-to-abate industrial processes such as refining.
The Road Ahead
In recent years, ITM Power has seen interest in renewable hydrogen increase rapidly worldwide. To meet potential demand and help accelerate global progress towards net zero, it is crucial to scale up at pace.
In 2021, ITM Power opened the new Gigafactory in Bessemer Park, Sheffield. This represents a step-change in ambition and capacity and enables cost reductions of 40% for electrolyser stacks over the next three years through increased automation and economies of scale.
Bessemer Park is also a ‘blueprint’ for a high capacity, semi-automated PEM electrolyser manufacturing facility. The design can be readily replicated, enabling a local facility to be planned and rapidly deployed in response to large order volumes. It is the modularisation of electrolysers that will allow electrolysis to get renewable hydrogen prices down the cost curve fast.
The Gigastack deployment will not only provide part of those initial volumes but also a vital reference site to show the world how combining renewable power, industrial demand and high-tech manufacturing can make the UK a leader in energy transition expertise.
The manufacturing of the equipment necessary to help the UK – and the world - through the energy transition should be based here in the UK. ITM Power now has all the necessary resources to hand, including capacity, finance and customer demand, to bring more high-skilled jobs to the Sheffield community as well as more work for local supplier chains.
Bessemer Park is a massive project, bringing significant investment to Sheffield and creating more than 100 new engineering jobs alongside the 230-strong workforce already at the Gigafactory.
New jobs created include openings for technical project managers, electrical, manufacturing and process automation engineers, chemists, compliance specialists and field engineers. These are all highly skilled jobs and will bring more people to the area as Bessemer Park becomes established as a major hub for cleantech manufacturing.
The opening of the Gigafactory is also a significant step towards achieving UK government aims to stimulate a green recovery after the pandemic – particularly relevant after the Government launched its new Green Jobs Taskforce in 2020 to support the creation of 2 million skilled jobs.
Core to ITM Power’s and Gigastack’s values are building good relationships with and investing in local communities. The Gigastack partners want to gain the trust and support of potential employees and customers, as well as local stakeholders. To do this there will be dedicated community engagement programmes - an important part of being socially responsible and innovative organisations.
Hydrogen is a key part of the UK Government’s Ten-Point Plan to net zero, with a goal for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. The UK Government’s recent announcement that it would be enshrining a new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035 reinforces the role of green hydrogen in the energy transition.
Taken together, the policy framework, the investment in the Gigafactory and growing global interest means that ITM Power now has a powerful cost reduction trajectory and world beating manufacturing capacity to fulfil the record order book and pipeline, ensuring that supply meets future demand. Gigastack is a major contributor to the development of green hydrogen, providing a blueprint for deploying scalable electrolyser technology across the UK and beyond.
The next decade will be an exciting period of growth for the hydrogen sector and ITM Power remains at the forefront, continuing to develop and innovate for its people, its customers and its local communities.
For more information, you can find a video on the ITM Power Gigafactory here.