Tuesday, April 29, 2014

News: Hydrogen fuel putting Rotherham at the front of the grid

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A new hydrogen storage and vehicle refuelling system unit is set to be constructed at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham to bring the unique Hydrogen Mini Grid System (HMGS) back to life and fuel the vehicles of the near future.

Last year, ITM Power, the Sheffield-based energy storage and clean fuel company, was selected by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to operate the system where wind power is converted into hydrogen gas for energy. A unique UK asset, it consists of a 225kW wind turbine coupled directly to an electrolyser, 200kg of hydrogen storage and a hydrogen dispensing unit as well as a 30kW fuel cell system for back up power generation for nearby commercial buildings.

ITM Power has applied for planning permission for a Hydrogen Refuelling Station on the site as part of the plan to bring the plant back into use and provide demonstration and academic research facilities.

It will be one of only a handful of places in the UK where pioneering hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can be refuelled and is unique in that the energy stored in the grid is created by wind power, which means that the vehicles it powers will not contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.

TNEI Services Ltd and the Pure Energy Centre were awarded the £2.3m project from Yorkshire Forward to create the hydrogen mini-grid in 2008. It is the largest wind-to-hydrogen power system in the UK and the biggest single store of "green" hydrogen in the UK.

To support the desire for the Waverley site to be at the forefront of ultra-low carbon vehicle technologies, Rotherham Council is leading on a £100,000 project that will see them secure one of only 10 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (HFC-EV) manufactured by Hyundai. The vehicle will be made available to a range of organisations across South Yorkshire over a period of four years to demonstrate the applicability of the technology across as wide a variety of applications as possible. During this period it is hoped that the market price of HFC-EVs will decrease as production volumes increase and hydrogen fuel becomes more widely available.

Hyundai's ix35 Fuel Cell emits only water from its exhaust and is fitted with a 100 kW (136 ps) electric motor, allowing it to reach a maximum speed of 99mph with a 0-to-62mph time of 12.5 seconds. A pair of hydrogen tanks, located between the vehicle's rear wheels, enable the vehicle to travel up to 370 miles on a single fuelling.

ITM Power's HFuel system generates hydrogen by electrolysis, compresses it, stores it and dispenses the gas on demand at high pressure. Combining an electrolyser based refueller with the on-site renewable energy source at the AMP will enable 80kg per day of low-carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as a vehicle fuel.

In posting its latest financial results, ITM Power, the first AIM-listed fuel cell and hydrogen company, finalised a conditional equity raising of £10m to fund working and expansion capital.

Prof. Roger Putnam CBE, chairman of ITM Power, said: "Governments around the world have made commitments to substantially reduce their countries’ carbon dioxide output and, as a result, have encouraged the construction of sizeable clean energy generation capacity. This capacity for clean energy now represents a significant proportion of the total power produced in many leading countries.

"The problem is that energy from wind and solar power is unpredictable in its delivery, and this has meant that much of the renewable energy that could be delivered to national grids is not required and is currently "constrained off", with producers being paid not to deliver their clean energy.

"The keys to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy are: firstly the ability to store energy efficiently and economically, and secondly the ability to convert renewables – at or close to the point of generation – into a usable product such as fuel for transport. ITM Power's technology and existing, proven products address both of these requirements."

ITM Power website

Images: ITM Power

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