A project aiming to demonstrate the delivery of bulk, low-cost and zero-carbon hydrogen through gigawatt (GW) scale polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis has been boosted by £500,000 of UK Government funding.
ITM Power, Ørsted and Element Energy revealed today their Gigastack project had been backed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through its Hydrogen Supply Competition.
The project aims to dramatically reduce the cost of electrolytic hydrogen through:
- Development of a new 5MW stack module design to reduce material costs
- A new semi-automated manufacturing facility with an electrolyser capacity of up to c. 1GW/year to increase throughput and decrease labour costs
- Deployment of very large scale and hence low cost 100MW+ electrolyser systems using multiple 5MW units
- Innovations in the siting and operation of these large electrolysers to exploit synergies with large GW scale renewable energy deployments.
ITM Power said the deployment of PEM electrolysers on such a large scale has not been possible to date, as it requires low-cost stack modules which are easily integrated into larger electrolyser systems, and much larger automated manufacturing facilities (the largest electrolyser factories globally are capable of less than 30MW of capacity output per annum).
The UK-based energy storage and clean fuel company said its proposed innovations in stack design and manufacturing techniques will address these issues and reduce the cost of installing an electrolyser such that the capital cost contribution to the eventual cost of hydrogen becomes less significant, being dominated by the cost of electricity.
Ørsted will demonstrate the synergy between GW scale offshore wind energy deployments and hydrogen that will enable the continued decarbonisation through renewables and a continued cost out of offshore wind power projects.
Dr. Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power said, “The Gigastack Project seeks to significantly lower the cost of producing green hydrogen by scaling the individual electrolyser stacks and the production process to 1GW (1,000MW) of electrolysis per annum. “
“We are delighted to be working on this important initiative, backed by the UK Government, with Ørsted the largest supplier of offshore wind in the UK.”
In Phase One (feasibility), ITM Power will develop the designs and finalise the material requirements to deliver a low-cost 5MW stack.
ITM Power will also refine concepts to maximise the throughput of the proposed semi-automated manufacturing facility to meet the demands of bulk hydrogen supply.
Ørsted will investigate potential synergies between offshore wind farms and electrolysers to identify scenarios that can provide affordable electricity and a sufficient load factor to allow economic operation of the electrolysers.
Finally, Element Energy will conduct market analysis of potential end users, explore business models for the operation of large electrolysers in the energy system and define a roll-out strategy for the first 100MW electrolysers.
Matthew Wright, UK Managing Director at Ørsted, said, “We must continue taking urgent action to limit the damaging effects of climate change.”
“The UK already leads the world in deploying renewable energy and accelerating the use of new technologies, such as green hydrogen, has a crucial role to play in decarbonising industrial processes.”
“We’ve seen the cost of offshore wind reduced dramatically thanks to industry and government working together, and I hope this project can be the start of a similar journey with green hydrogen.”
In Phase Two, the 5MW stack would be built and tested both in-house and in a representative windhydrogen scenario. Construction of the semi-automated manufacturing facility would also begin.
Finally, the business case for large electrolysers would be refined, enabling commercialisation.
This project is a unique opportunity to develop green hydrogen production for the UK and establish the country as a centre of excellence in electrolytic technology.
Anders Christian Nordstrøm, Vice-President for Hydrogen at Ørsted, added, “Combining renewable power with flexible green hydrogen production is a key part of decarbonising energy systems across Europe and ultimately creating a world that runs entirely on green energy.”
“Hydrogen production by electrolysis is a technology with great potential and this Gigastack project is an important step forward as we look to reduce costs and make green hydrogen a viable solution for the UK’s energy transformation.”