Projects that include a focus on using renewable-sourced hydrogen to heat gin distillation and expanding production of the gas from off-shore electrolysis will each receive share of £40m fund
Government will invest tens of millions of pounds to try and expand cleaner methods of generating hydrogen to heat a range of industrial processes such as gin distillation. These pilot projects form part of ongoing tests of the gas’ viability in meeting the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions.
A total of 20 companies have secured a share of a £40m government programme known as the Hydrogen and Fuel Switching Innovation Fund. This looks at how hydrogen might be able to play a role in meeting UK heat demand as the country seeks to eliminate its carbon emissions fully by 2050.
One such project looks at options to produce more environmentally friendly heat for gin distillation by switching from liquid petroleum gas to hydrogen that is produced locally through wind and tidal production.
The HySpirits project is anticipated to eliminate 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from a distillery as a model for wider roll outs in the brewery and distillation sector, if successful. These savings could amount to the equivalent of cutting the annual emissions of 10 homes or 18 cars, according to the government.
Outside of the implications for creating heat vital to the UK craft brewing sector, the project is also concerned with finding viable paths to switching away from fossil fuels amidst calls from major environmental watchdogs and industry for strategies to decarbonise buildings.
The £40m Hydrogen and Fuel Switching Innovation Fund will also support a pilot project known as ‘Dolphyn’ that will see electrolysers mounted to floating wind turbines. The electrolysers are designed to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In effect, it will create hydrogen through renewable sources.
Researchers expect a single turbine as used in the project to potentially produce enough lower carbon supplies of the gas to heat around 2,500 homes.
Low carbon clarity
Climate Change Minister Lord Duncan said that the £40m reflected not only an attempt to transform the country’s gin and microbreweries sector, but also in helping transform the UK into a net zero carbon economy.
He said, “Developing hydrogen technology has the potential to not only reduce emissions from industry, but could also help us seize the opportunities of the global shift to cleaner economies – with the prize of up two million jobs and £170 billion of annual exports by 2030.”
The £40m fund falls under a larger £390m investment programme recently announced by government that looks at options to lower carbon emissions and support technological innovation in the development of new appliances.
This includes £100m to generate sufficient market competition to provide low carbon hydrogen into the UK. £250 will also be offered under a Clean Steel Fund intended to curb carbon emissions in the production of key metals, such as through turning to hydrogen solutions.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which plays a vital role in reviewing and informing government environmental policy, earlier this year warned of a vital need to determine and finalise the future role of the UK’s gas grid by 2025.
The CCC added at the time that all new or replacement heating systems installed by 2035 must all be low carbon alternatives – a move that could see a drastic surge in electric appliances.
Ensuring sufficient amounts of hydrogen can be produced in a sustainable form will also be vital to meeting the 2050 UK net zero ambitions, according to the committee’s findings.
Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth NGO have warned that a switch towards hydrogen gas use for heating was not necessarily a like-for-like carbon neutral replacement for natural gas. This was particularly if the gas is produced through Steam Methane Reforming.
Mike Childs, head of science for the NGO, has previously told H&V News that moving to home-grown renewable energy and hydrogen produced from water would be an important step to decarbonise heat in a viable manner.
Mr Childs will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming H&V News summit, which will look at a range of vital issues facing the HVAC sector.
This will include sessions focused on the potential role hydrogen canplay in the path to decarbonisation, as well as how the gas may complement efforts to expand use of electric appliances such as heat pumps as part of interconnected reforms of the country’s transport and energy infrastructure.