The British Government has committed £7.5 million to funding the next phase of Gigastack, a new project which will use electricity generated from the world’s largest offshore wind farm to produce renewable hydrogen.
The Gigastack project –a consortium of companies led by Danish offshore wind giant Ørsted and including ITM Power, Phillips 66 Limited, and Element Energy – is now entering its second phase, following the completion last year of the project’s initial feasibility phase which developed designs for a low-cost modular 5MW electrolyser ‘stack’.
Hydrogen production has generally been a process paired with high carbon emissions, but by using electricity generated from renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen from water, electrolysis, the process can be completely decarbonised.
Further, ITM Power’s electrolyser stack technology not only enables very large stacks (up to 5MW) but subsequently also reduces costs and improves efficiency and enable the potential future deployment of 100MW scale electrolyser systems.
The feasibility phase also analysed the potential synergies with offshore wind farms and a market analysis and business model for the first industrial scale 100MW electrolysers.
The second phase of the Gigastack project will move on to conduct a Front-End Engineering Design (‘FEED’) study on just such a 100MW electrolyser system using staged installations with a nominal capacity of 20MW.
The FEED study will detail the design of a hydrogen production system connected to a wind farm using electricity generated by Ørsted’s Hornsea Two 1.4GW offshore wind farm – the world’s (currently) largest offshore wind farm.
The FEED study will also supply the resulting renewable hydrogen to an industrial off-taker, in this case Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery – a crude oil processing facility located in North Lincolnshire, in the east of England.
“Creating renewable hydrogen with offshore wind really has the potential to decarbonise industrial processes, and what is needed now is to scale up the electrolyser technology and bring the cost down,” explained Anders Christian Nordstrøm, Vice President for Hydrogen, Ørsted.
“We’ve seen this happen in offshore wind. With industry and government working together, there has been a rapid deployment and a huge cost reduction. This project aims to do the same with hydrogen. At the right cost, this technology has the potential to play a huge role in meeting the UK’s decarbonisation targets.
We’re excited to be part of this project in the Humber region where we are already very active, including constructing the biggest offshore wind farms in the world, Hornsea One and Two, and with them setting the global standard for deployment of offshore wind at scale.”
“Phillips 66 Limited is excited to be involved in the Gigastack project,” added Darren Cunningham, Lead Executive UK and General Manager Humber Refinery, Phillips 66 Limited.
“This project aligns with our record of developing new low-carbon markets within the UK and worldwide, following our innovative technologies, which are key to lithium-ion battery production and, more recently, our biofuels produced from used cooking oil.
“The Humber region is uniquely positioned within the UK for the large-scale deployment of renewable hydrogen. Direct access to existing offshore wind-power and a developed industrial base with hydrogen demand at Phillips 66 Limited’s Humber Refinery provides an ideal opportunity to develop a new renewable hydrogen market where the feedstocks are just water and renewable power.”
The primary goal of this second phase of the Gigastack project is to identify and highlight the regulatory, commercial, and technical challenges for real-world applications of industrial-scale renewable hydrogen systems.
As part of this second phase ITM Power will also install and trial their “next-generation” electrolyser stack and the semi-automated manufacturing machines required for large-scale and high-volume manufacture of these new large low-cost stacks which should help to validate a complete production system capable of delivering hundreds of megawatts of electrolysers each year.