BEIS' Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply Competition 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.
The first phase of this competition funded, amongst others, the Gigastack project. Work on this project was concluded in September 2019 by a consortium comprised of ITM Power, Ørsted and Element Energy.
Overview of Phase 1
The Gigastack feasibility study was funded by BEIS' Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply Competition to demonstrate the delivery of bulk, low-cost renewable hydrogen through Gigawatt scale polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis, manufactured in the UK. The provision of public funding enabled the partners to undertake novel activities and to accelerate research and development necessary to create affordable and sustainable renewable hydrogen. Ongoing activities would not be possible in the same time frame without this funding.
The consortium worked to deliver:
The results of this feasibility study supported the consortium’s efforts in preparing for Phase 2 of BEIS’ Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply Competition and further development of the Gigastack programme.
The consortium delivered the following primary conclusions:
- ITM Power has furthered the designs of its next generation of innovative stack technology. The new 5MW stack has an improved efficiency and will enable the development of the 100MW electrolyser systems that are required to meet the UK’s legally binding net zero target by 2050. These installations will come at a fraction of today’s cost, with the installed electrolyser system costing less than £400/kW.
- These stacks will benefit from cost reductions due to ITM Power’s new “Giga-Factory” at Bessemer Park, Sheffield. This will come about due to standardisation and industrialisation. As a result of the capacity modelling and machine analysis, the factory will manufacture 60 stacks per year from 2023 (300MW/yr), tending towards 200 stacks per year in the mid-2020s (1GW/yr).
- Identified wind farm – electrolyser configurations that reduced renewable hydrogen’s largest cost component, electricity supply. This reduced the cost of hydrogen from grid connected electrolysers from £8/kg by more than 50%. With further regulatory intervention, commercial optimisation, industrialisation, and increased production volumes of electrolysers, the results of the feasibility study demonstrate further pathways to reduce cost again by up to 50%.
- The reduced stack cost, increased manufacturing capacity and the innovative technical configurations enabled the consortium to identify viable business cases for supplying hydrogen to industry and transport end-users. This is made possible through cost competitive renewable and high purity hydrogen.
- An analysis of the hydrogen demand from target markets for renewable hydrogen (i.e. industry, transport, hydrogen for heat) both nationally and internationally from 2020 to 2030 validates ITM Power’s proposal decision to ramp-up to a factory capacity of 1GW/yr over an accelerated time frame. In all scenarios considered, the hydrogen market deemed accessible to ITM Power’s new 5MW stack far exceeded their production rate of 1GW/yr from 2025.