Update on Gigastack Phase 1


On 10 September, Element Energy hosted a webinar to update the market on the conclusions from Phase 1 of the Gigastack project, with presentations from the project stakeholders.

The event highlighted the enormous potential for hydrogen and how partnerships between offshore renewables and heavy industry provide optimal conditions for early hydrogen adoption. The Gigastack project focuses on green hydrogen production, powered by the Hornsea 1 offshore windfarm, for use at the nearby Phillips 66 refinery.

Jon Saltmarsh, Deputy Director of Engineering and Research at BEIS gave an overview of how hydrogen fits in to the government’s emerging heat strategy, stressing that BEIS is looking at hydrogen from a whole systems perspective. BEIS will also be pursuing a “twin-track” approach regarding blue and green hydrogen, keeping an eye on respective costs as well as developments in carbon capture technology.

Graham Cooley, CEO of electrolyser manufacturing company ITM Power, stressed the vast demand for hydrogen in industrial processes, estimating that to fulfil existing industrial demand with green hydrogen it would take 400TWh (equivalent to 150GW of electrolysers running at 50% load factor).  Following the Phase 1 scoping of the project, ITM Power is opening a new electrolyser factory in Sheffield, with the capacity to produce 1GW of electrolysers per annum, in modules up to 5MW in size. Their focus will be on rapid response electrolysers which enable hydrogen production to act as a flexible offtaker and ultimately participant in grid balancing activities.

Bridgit Hartland and Emma Toulson from Ørsted flagged that building a hydrogen tie-in is a logical next step for the organisation, given the considerable, and growing, fleet of offshore wind resources at the company’s disposal. Phase 1 of the Gigastack programme FEED study scoped a 100MW hydrogen production facility sitting behind their onshore substation, to make the most from any excess wind generation without the need to build infrastructure offshore. Going forward, Ørsted are hoping that the project will provide a clearer view of the real levelized cost of energy from electrolysis.

Mike Wailes from the Phillips 66 Humber refinery concluded the presentation by stressing the need to encourage decarbonisation in heavy industry to prevent the offshoring of emissions. The refinery is a prime candidate for collaboration as hydrogen is used for pre-treating feedstocks at the site. It also lies just 3km from the Hornsea substation, making a pipeline connection viable. As a major producer and exporter of graphite electrode battery coke, the refinery would like to see an increase in GB manufacturing of electrical vehicles and is expecting a big demand for EV battery raw materials in the near future.