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Hydrogen Industry Leaders (HIL) showcase UK hydrogen innovation.

By November 29, 2023 No Comments

The hydrogen economy is slowly taking shape in the UK and across the globe. As hydrogen networks and infrastructure start to emerge, there is a recognition of the importance hydrogen has in supporting the energy sectors, and decarbonising industry and the heavy-duty automotive sectors.

With the UK seeking more sustainable ways to become energy independent, hydrogen is now becoming more of a key player in supporting these expectations. Furthermore, with UK innovations in heavy-duty, off-highway and marine also recognising the value of hydrogen in decarbonisation, the hydrogen economy is starting to take shape.

There is of course still a resistance in some quarters as the challenges of generating enough green hydrogen are questioned, alongside the current challenges storage and infrastructure pose. However, as with any new technology and in particular a technology with such varied potential, there is always going to need to be a vast amount of research and development to overcome these challenges.

Engineers throughout history have overcome the challenges posed by the onslaught of the industrial revolution for example. Simple things which we take for granted now such as heavy-duty machinery, agricultural vehicles and even trains once baffled engineers until they harnessed the relevant fuel sources.

Despite us now knowing that our reliance on fossil fuels has been harming planet Earth, the knowledge passed down by our engineering pioneers has given us the insights to try new ways of fuelling our machines and generating our energy.

Hydrogen is on the same pioneering trajectory as the development of steam power, diesel, electrification and beyond. As with our historical engineering pioneers, we will overcome the challenges hydrogen production poses and it will support a global reduction in GHGs and help strive towards net-zero.

One way in which hydrogen in the UK is being recognised and discussed is through the Hydrogen Industry Leaders (HIL) events.

HIL is a dedicated membership portal for individuals and businesses involved in accelerating the use of hydrogen. The focus of their events is to gather together industry leaders, academics, policy makers, energy suppliers and innovators in the hydrogen space to discuss and share their knowledge.

The HIL events allow policy makers to feedback directly to industry and Government alike about how the hydrogen economy is being addressed in the UK. HIL have hosted two Hydrogen conferences in 2023.

In July 23 Hydrogen Industry Leaders from a variety of sectors gathered at the Radisson Hotel, London. The event was an opportunity to highlight the role hydrogen has in decarbonising systems such as transport, industrial and manufacturing systems, and home energy.

In recognition of how hydrogen can support the heavy-duty industry, Dolphin N2 were exhibiting at the July 23 HIL event.

The Dolphin N2 Hydrogen ready Recuperated Spilt Cycle Engine demonstrator was on display in the exhibition hall. An industry leader in the development of hydrogen as a viable option to decarbonise the heavy-duty sector and beyond, Dolphin N2 were perfectly placed to showcase their technology amongst other hydrogen leaders.

Many of the attendees were curious about the transition from diesel engine to hydrogen and were impressed by the extensive body of work surrounding the development of the recuperated split cycle hydrogen engine.

As part of the discussion around how hydrogen can support the energy sectors, Catherine Raw – Managing Director, SSE Thermal spoke about how SSE are world leaders in renewable energy hosting the largest offshore wind farm in the world. The need for renewable energy in an ever more electric reliant world, means there is greater demand.

To meet the ever-growing demand for green hydrogen, renewables are needed to be increased above and beyond the current requirements. With offshore wind and solar supplied by SSE currently capable of producing 16GW of power, SSE are seeking to be able to supply 50GW of offshore wind energy by 2035 with the development of the world’s second largest wind farm.

Catherine Raw highlighted how the current transition of energy requirements and the need to reach net-zero has been developing over the past 100 years. Transitions away from coal and oil have been replaced by gas and electric. We are now in another transition whereby renewable energy, including hydrogen, are now part of the ‘toolbox’ towards net-zero.

The Humber is well known as a central energy hub of the UK and boasts multiple power stations. SSE are planning on building multiple storage caverns for hydrogen, with one of their gas caverns having already been adapted for this purpose and a 35MW electrolyser having already been installed.

The UK Government state that hydrogen and carbon capture are the answer to a flexible approach to the decarbonisation of the energy sector and beyond. However, as Catherine Raw mentioned, this has not yet been proven, tested and or established if it economically feasible.

In July 23 the only representation for the heavy-duty sector came from Chris Ashley – Head of Policy, Road Haulage Association – acknowledged that hydrogen has a role to play in the decarbonisation of the heavy-duty sector, but that the information currently available does not go far enough to show how hydrogen could benefit the Haulage Association members.

Chris Ashley explored how BEV in an urban context has now been proven, but for hydrogen to be proven for long distance there would need to be more data made available and a guaranteed refuelling infrastructure in place. When asked why he felt Government were not pushing hydrogen in the heavy-duty sector, he felt that it was down to “cost” and “scalability”. Despite the inherent safety concerns about hydrogen Chris Ashley explored how the Road Haulage Association are currently working with the British Safety Institute to establish guidelines about hydrogen safety.

His concerns about hydrogen heavy-duty performance were explored alongside the economic impact of current hydrogen heavy-duty trucks being at least five times the costs of a standard diesel engine.  He felt that once the data is made available from the innovative trials being undertaken in the UK and beyond, then a business case can be built to support transition.

Despite Chris Ashley’s understandable hesitations, he did acknowledge that hydrogen does have a place in the decarbonisation of the heavy-duty sector, but that there needs to be a lot more proven data available to enable the heavy-duty sector to make informed decisions about their fleets going forward.

However, despite the slight resistance to hydrogen as a solution for heavy-duty decarbonisation posed in July 23, on Tuesday 28th November 23, Nick Owen – Technical Director of Dolphin N2 presented as a ‘Thought Leader’ at the HIL event ‘Building the Hydrogen Economy’. Nick addressed attendees and shared with them how the Recuperated Split Cycle engine can and has been run on hydrogen.

The UK heavy-duty and off-highway sectors are continuing to benefit from the research into how hydrogen can support decarbonisation.

In recognition of the importance hydrogen has to play in the decarbonisation of off-highway and agriculture, Dolphin N2 were amongst a wealth of other UK technology innovators who were successful in their application to receive funding and support through the Advanced Propulsion Centre ARMD2 competition.

The ARMD2 funding will now support Dolphin N2 to focus on preparations for them to install a hydrogen engine into a tractor to be displayed at Cenex Expo 2024 (formerly LCV)

The funding will support HYCULTURE – Hydrogen Combustion for Ultra Low Tractor Real-world Emissions enabling Dolphin N2 and partners to demonstrate a farm tractor with a clean, efficient hydrogen fuelled engine, with hydrogen being produced on farms from renewables (1)

The ARMD2 funding is another layer of recognition for the important part hydrogen has to play in the decarbonisation of heavy-duty, off-highway, agriculture and marine alike and it is events such as the HIL conferences which recognise the great body of work being undertaken by UK industry, the energy sectors and innovators alike.

Written by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2