Led By: Prof Alan Guwy, University of South Wales
It is now widely accepted that the large-scale implementation of renewable electricity generation will require the development of energy storage technology. This is essential to enable long-term renewable energy targets to be met, achieving CO2 reduction goals and optimizing electricity generation and distribution resource. Hydrogen energy storage provides one of the most promising options for the widespread application of grid-scale energy storage.
This work package builds on the current hydrogen energy R&D base in Wales, particularly the expertise of SERC at USW, to research and develop the technology challenges to implementing grid-scale hydrogen energy storage. The work package activity will identify the opportunities for hydrogen energy storage and investigate optimization strategies for investment in grid scale storage. Activity will also be directed to the improvement of electrolytic technology for integration of hydrogen with variable grid electricity generation and will extend previous work with Welsh anchor companies Wales and West Utilities, Tata and Scottish and Southern Electricity as well as innovative SMEs such as ITM Power and Intelligent Energy. The work package will also conduct R&D into methanation technology to enable capture of CO2 whilst balancing grid electricity via hydrogen (power-to-gas) and address the technical and regulatory challenges of injecting to this synthetic natural gas into the grid for electricity balancing. The aim is to develop a consortium to build a large-scale demonstrator of power-to-gas technology in Wales with industrial and academic partners.
The work package will:
a) Assess the potential for grid-scale hydrogen energy storage developments to avoid curtailment of renewables and facilitate greater penetration of renewable technology onto the electricity grid.
b) Investigate the optimization of investment, balancing hydrogen energy balancing to avoid electrical grid upgrading.
c) Conduct R&D into the advancement of electrolytic hydrogen production as a grid-scale electricity balancing mechanism.
d) R&D of hydrogen energy storage technology at technically, economically and environmentally viable scales.
e) Investigate the opportunities to exploit the natural gas grid as a large-scale store for electricity grid balancing.
f) Investigate the potential for CO2 capture via methanation (thermo-chemical and biological) with hydrogen (power-to-gas).
g) Pursue opportunities to attract further funding for industrial and academic collaborative projects in each of these technical areas.
As a cross cutting approach to the USW led work packages there will be safety, economic and environmental assessment of the technology R&D described above, to ensure the approaches investigated are sustainable.
The International Energy Agency, European Commission and UK Government have all acknowledged that energy storage will have an essential role in enabling the development of a low-carbon electricity system, increasing flexibility and allowing greater implementation of renewable technology on the grid. Through Energy Wales: A Low Carbon Transition, the Welsh Government has also acknowledged the requirement to develop energy storage technology to accelerate the introduction of low-carbon power generation and to improve security and efficiency of the future electricity grid. The need for R&D in this area is recognized by the HORIZON 2020 Work Programme Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy and more specifically the allied European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is allocating funds for the research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) of grid scale hydrogen energy storage, including power-to-gas. The UK research councils have identified Energy Storage as a Grand Challenge theme and InnovateUK continues to promote energy storage development and demonstration competitions.