05 May 2021

Gigastack is Leading the Way for Renewable Hydrogen in the UK

In recent months, Gigastack has been widely recognised as the UK’s flagship renewable hydrogen project.

This was particularly highlighted in the two Government publications, the 10-Point Plan for a Green industrial Revolution and the Energy White Paper: Powering our Net Zero Future.

These reports set out the UK’s long-term strategy for the shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. With the UK Government enshrining a new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035, Gigastack is of increased importance – the project is creating a blueprint for deploying scaleable electrolyser technology across the UK.

The Gigastack project is nearing an important milestone in its delivery, as project partners are set to publish a final report in July 2021, which outlines findings and progress in key areas of focus:

  • A 100MW electrolyser front-end engineering design (FEED) study in Immingham, the Humber’s southern industrial cluster.
  • Developing the business case and identifying market design challenges.
  • Developing the next generation of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyser system, at the 5MW scale, to facilitate the large-scale and low-cost deployments of the future.
  • Expanding ITM Power’s electrolyser manufacturing capacity by moving to a new site and installing new semi-automated manufacturing equipment.

These activities are critical in developing the UK’s first large-scale renewable hydrogen project. Renewable hydrogen is increasingly recognised as a vital component of the UK’s energy future and the decarbonisation of the whole energy system. Renewable hydrogen is produced by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen in an electrolyser using renewable electricity. This ensures that there are no process emissions. Pairing this significant potential for deep decarbonisation with the opportunity for rapid deployments will help the Humber Region reach its 2040 net zero target, becoming the world’s first industrial cluster to reach this milestone. Gigastack’s role in this journey was recognised in the Humber Renewables Awards 2020 with Gigastack winning the Green Innovation category. Leveraging these learnings across the UK will support the decarbonisation of other industrial clusters alongside mobility and the gas grid.

The FEED study, led by Ørsted, has informed the project partners what is needed to build the 100MW electrolyser facility in the next phase of the project. This makes Gigastack the most construction-ready project at scale. The partners have made significant developments on the design, planning application strategy, safety and operational studies, exploring different site and routing options, designing the layout of the facility and finally costing the project. A key learning from this project is how to address water supply in industrial areas are encouraged to reduce demand of potable water. After exploring several options, partners concluded that in the base case the electrolyser would use treated effluent water from the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery. This solution further enhances the sustainability of renewable hydrogen which will be required in many industries that cannot decarbonise through direct electrification.

Meanwhile, ITM Power has developed and moved into the new factory in Sheffield, Bessemer Park. This new facility is the world’s largest electrolyser production facility, creating a centre of hydrogen excellence in the north of England. All items and equipment have been installed and commissioning work is nearly complete. A demonstration of the new facility will be ready by the end of the project. ITM Power has also progressed well with the development of their next generation of electrolyser system, defining various technical parameters, such as system size, voltages and outputs. Over the next few months, ITM Power will finalise the design of the 5MW system whilst also testing the 150kW representative system.

As the project concludes at the end of July 2021, the final report will also highlight the learnings of the study regarding the technical and financial aspects of supplying bulk quantities of hydrogen to the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery.

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This project is funded by BEIS’ Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply Competition. This competition has provided organisations with the opportunity to address the challenges of scaling up the supply of renewable hydrogen through the development of new technologies, business cases and working relationships.