Panel hear opportunity of Freeport East Hydrogen Hub


Green hydrogen could be supplied in Freeport East by the end of the year, according to Robert Edge, Business Development Manager of the Haven Gateway Partnership.

On 10 March, Edge was among those speaking during Riviera’s Green hydrogen as a marine fuel: what it means for shipping webinar, part of its Marine Fuels Webinar Week, where he mapped out Freeport East’s unique selling point as being both the diversity of clean energy sources for producing green hydrogen and diversity of use cases. It is a rail connected hub, juxtaposed between existing nuclear power and those under construction, while it has substantial offshore wind assets it can call on as well.

It will work with EDF to generate hydrogen and the partnership is tendering for construction of the hydrogen plant to generate it from water using nuclear and electricity from offshore windfarms. Fuel system procurement is being eyed for Q2 2021, ahead of construction starting in Q3, with hydrogen then potentially produced in Q3 2022 for the Sizewell C construction vehicles.

Meanwhile, 50% of UK offshore wind generation is situated in the southern North Sea, with the potential for its offshore gas production platforms could be used for hydrogen production or seawater desalinisation, producing saline-free water for hydrogen production.

On the demand side, Edge noted there are 200 diesel-fuelled off-road vehicles in the port of Felixstowe, as well as citing small local diesel-powered vessel manufacturers that could use fuel cells, along with 8,000 heavy good vehicles and 36 container trains travelling through Felixstowe and Harwich every day.

Elsewhere, the webinar heard from CEO of TECO 2030, Stian Aakre, speaking after his firm unveiled plans to build a hydrogen fuel cell gigafactory in north Norway with an annual production capacity of 1.2GW. Hydrogen, Aakre said, fulfils the sustainability concept for vessels to be greenhouse gas free, adding: “Synthetic fuels start with hydrogen as the building block and we should use green hydrogen instead of refining it.”

Bud Darr, MSC Group Executive VP for maritime policy and government affairs, signalled his belief the shipping industry will adopt low emission fuels, but not without international government support. There will unlikely be one clear option, with everyone needing to play their part owed to decarbonisation being “the biggest challenge society faces”.

On hydrogen specifically, Darr said MSC Group are “bullish” on it as a significant part of the main solution. To prevent emissions across the whole fuel production chain, green hydrogen production and efficient storage systems are needed owed to substantial challenges arising from hydrogen’s volume, explosion risk and the high pressures and very low cryogenic temperatures necessary to main molecules in the liquid phase.