On 16 December, Hydrogen East held a virtual webinar on Suffolk hydrogen and the Net Zero Challenge. A range of speakers from Sizewell C, EDF Energy and Policy Exchange presented at the event on the opportunity for hydrogen across Suffolk and the North Sea.
Nigel Cornwall, Founding Director at Hydrogen East, opened the session with a progress and policy update. He set out the ambition shown in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and Energy White Paper, with plans for 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030, hydrogen for heat trials and investment into transport demonstrations across road and shipping. Reference was made to the Committee for Climate Change’s recently published Sixth Carbon Budget which outlined targets of 90TWh of annual hydrogen production by 2035, mandating of hydrogen-ready boilers by 2025 and 250 hydrogen refuelling stations by 2040. He went on to demonstrate the integration of additional reports into Hydrogen East’s plans and thinking in respect of the National Infrastructure Strategy, Net Zero North Sea, Future of the North Sea and Reimaging a Net Zero North Sea publications.
Presentation of Sizewell C’s issued expressions of interest was then given by Shekhar Sumit, Programme Manager at Sizewell C. Options being explored included hydrogen production through a 2MW electrolyser in East Suffolk and a Direct Air Capture installation at the prospective Sizewell C power plant. In respect of electrolyser development, three lots were outlined covering installation, operation and maintenance, hydrogen demand and project management. The submission deadline was confirmed as 8 January 2021.
Charlotte Farmer, Analyst at Hydrogen East, went on to give an overview of its Hydrogen East’s ‘demand aggregation’ model and associated mapping. Its model takes a bottom-up approach to identifying local demand and solutions through place-based and whole-system analysis (Figure 1). The vast application for hydrogen utilisation across East Anglia was outlined, covering public and private road transport, agriculture, construction, rail, industrial processes, power generation, port-side operations, marine and domestic heating. A visual demonstration of these applications across Suffolk was given by Michael Brown, Analyst at Hydrogen East. The prime opportunity at ports for hydrogen demand was flagged through a look at the confluence of the local road and rail network. Opportunity was also flagged for biohydrogen development, hydrogen grid injection, hydrogen integration with offshore wind and reducing emissions from large food and drink, waste, data and aviation centres across the region.
The webinar continued with a summary of the Future of the North Sea report from Ed Birkett, Senior Research Fellow at Policy Exchange. The report outlined the North Sea potential by 2050 and identified six key barriers to maximising this potential, including: spatial planning; environmental regulation; routes to market; investment in low-carbon networks; cross-border collaboration; and capturing economic benefits. Solutions to overcoming these barriers included creating a UK Seas Authority to coordinate marine development, introducing tailored support for hydrogen and CCS by mid-2021 and investing in coastal communities to capture Net Zero economic benefits.
An overview of Net Zero Leiston, a project drafting a Net Zero route map for a small town in East Suffolk, was given by Joseph Butler, Finance and Project Development Analyst at EDF Energy. Leiston’s current emissions were found to be 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. At the current rate of emission production, Leiston would use up its carbon budget in less than eight years. Insights from a draft version of its route map were given and showed a Net Zero target of 2030 and adoption of renewable energy technologies, hydrogen use, energy efficiency and tree planting. Its route map is expected to be released by early-2021.
A final presentation was given by Johnathan Reynolds, Managing Director at Opergy and Founding Director of Hydrogen East, on the Strength in Places funding application for the Suffolk and Norfolk Research and Innovation on the Sustainable Energy Coast (SuNRISE Coast) project. The project’s three strategic themes are:
- data integration across the Southern North Sea (SNS) and its coast, including creation of a SNS Data Observatory
- economic, environmentally sustainable multi-use of the SNS, through creating business opportunities in aqua-tech and piloting co-benefit scenarios such as combining seaweed and shellfish farming, creating biodiversity havens and delivering coastal resilience, and
- catalysing future sustainable energy technologies and infrastructure, including coastal grid network solutions, embedding circular economy principles and seawater desalination, hydrogen production and chemical extraction.
The project will be given notification of award in April 2021, and would run for five years from September 2021.
Nigel Cornwall wrapped up the event by looking forward to the building hydrogen momentum in East Anglia and the upcoming Hydrogen Strategy. He outlined details of Hydrogen East’s next event on 2 February covering its Bacton SNS 2.0 workstream and other energy and Net Zero transformation projects in Norfolk. To access the event slide deck and recording, click here.