Hydrogen in the Clean Energy System

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Hydrogen in the Clean Energy System

Over the past 12 months, Arcus has seen substantial growth in client interest in hydrogen production.

Following recent political announcements and growing status as the “next big thing” in the energy sector, it is likely that hydrogen will play an increasing role in our energy system in the near future. Whilst not necessarily the answer to climate change, and particularly not if derived from sources other than renewable energy, hydrogen does offer benefits over other means of energy transfer and storage. However, rather than being a catch-all solution to energy storage across the network, hydrogen will likely be added to the range of other emerging and established technologies such as lithium-ion batteries, pumped hydro, gravitational energy storage, flywheels etc to provide a pick and mix of potential solutions, which provides a customer and the grid with increasing flexibility in choosing the optimal solution for any given application.

In simple terms, hydrogen’s greatest potential may lie in its ability to use existing infrastructure to provide lower carbon heating, transport fuel or for use in industrial applications. It seems unlikely at this stage that hydrogen fuel cells would be produced for basic standalone energy storage applications; rather, hydrogen’s compatibility with other generating capacities to provide “off-grid” fuel source and reduce reliance on fossil-fuels is more probable.  This type of hybrid generation is starting to become more prevalent. Indeed, some of the early large-scale planning applications for hydrogen production facilities, such as the Ryse Hydrogen electrolysis scheme in Herne Bay, Kent, where electricity from Kentish Flats offshore windfarm is proposed to be used for transportation fuel, have seen hydrogen production partnered with renewable energy production.

In terms of Arcus’ environmental and planning work, depending on scale, a hydrogen production facility is likely to have similar impacts to the 1 GW+ of energy storage schemes we have worked on over the last few years. In many instances, a new hydrogen production facility is also likely to form part of an application for a renewable energy project, or may be attached to an existing one as seen at Herne Bay. Arcus is involved in early stage feasibility on such potential sites and we expect to submit our first planning application for a project involving hydrogen production in the near future.

If you are interested in discussing hydrogen projects, please contact the Arcus Environment team via info@arcusconsulting.co.uk or 01904 715 470.