The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a project to increase the understanding of the economics and potential use of energy systems involving low carbon hydrogen production, storage and flexible turbine technology. The £300,000 project will be led by global engineering and construction company Foster Wheeler, in collaboration with the British Geological Survey.
The five-month-long project will assess the economics of flexible power generation systems which involve the production of hydrogen from coal, biomass or natural gas, its intermediate storage (for example, in underground salt caverns) and production of power in flexible turbines.
The ETI commissioned and funded project will look to map suitable hydrogen storage salt cavern sites in and around the UK. The sites – which tend to be located inland or up to 25 miles off the UK coastline – will need to be of sufficient size, depth, location and quality before they can be considered for hydrogen storage.
The ETI’s energy system modelling tool (Energy System Modelling Environment) suggests that systems such as these could provide a very valuable contribution to the future energy mix, filling the gap between base load nuclear plant and renewable power generation. Such a system would also capture and store carbon dioxide which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.
This project is part of the ETI’s Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) Programme and will help the ETI to develop a better understanding of the requirements for such energy systems and help it develop a more realistic and robust dataset of costs and efficiency.
Andrew Green, ETI CCS Programme Manager, says: “ETI modelling shows that flexible power generation systems comprising hydrogen generation with CCS, intermediate hydrogen storage (particularly using salt caverns) and flexible turbines are potentially attractive components in any future UK energy system. This project is a first step in a long journey, which could ultimately see such systems as a key part of a future low carbon, flexible and affordable energy system. If successful, the benefits could potentially be huge.”