The importance of a Hydrogen economy was first recognised in 2020 as part of the UK Government Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution:
“Working alongside partners in industry, our aim is for the UK to develop 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 that could see the UK benefit from around 8,000 jobs across our industrial heartlands and beyond.” (1)
This was to be supported by a range of measures including a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund.
At the time of the publication of the original Ten Point Plan in 2020, government analysis suggested that 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption by 2050 could be hydrogen-based, helping to cut emissions by 78% by 2035. (1)
In August 2021 the UK government subsequently published the Hydrogen Strategy, a clear recognition of the part hydrogen could play in reaching net-zero.
When the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced its vision for a world-leading hydrogen economy August 2021, it was a landmark moment and clear acknowledgement of the need for a low carbon hydrogen sector in the UK.
Hydrogen has been identified as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuel and or electrification in heavy industry, manufacturing, heating and transport sectors alike.
Since the original Ten Point Plan in 2020, hydrogen has been gaining traction as a key component for decarbonisation. Therefore, it was only fitting that in April 2022 as part of the Energy Security Strategy the UK government announced an increased ambition for up to 10GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, with an expectation that at least half of the capacity would come from green hydrogen. This is double the previous target unveiled in the national hydrogen strategy.
One of the many sectors identified as benefiting from the development of hydrogen is the heavy-duty, off-highway and agriculture sectors.
Many leading heavy-duty and off-highway manufacturers such as JCB, Cummins, Iveco Group and CNH Industrial already have hydrogen fuelled vehicles in their fleets. With continued investment in hydrogen only strengthening and supporting its use as a low carbon fuel, the hydrogen economy has a clear opportunity for growth.
Providing support to polluting industries to significantly slash their emissions, BEIS announced in 2021 a £105 million funding package through the UK Government Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) which was to act as a first step to build up Britain’s low carbon hydrogen economy. The investment was intended to help industries to develop low carbon alternatives for industrial fuels, including hydrogen, which will be key to meeting climate commitments. (2)
One project which significantly affected the off-highway, agriculture and heavy-duty sectors was the announcement of a £40M Red Diesel Replacement Competition (August 2021)
BEIS awarded £6.7 million in grant funding across 17 projects for Phase 1, with up to £460,000 per project.
The projects covered technologies within the 3 innovation lots at technology readiness level (TRL) 4 and above:
Lot 1: Distribution, storage and energy delivery systems development
Lot 2: Development of equipment (components/sub-systems) and fleet management infrastructure (facilities for maintaining, hosting and servicing vehicles)
Lot 3: Fuel development (3)
Red diesel was reportedly responsible of producing nearly 14 million tonnes of carbon each year and being a fuel used primarily for such off-highway purposes as bulldozers, excavators, tipper trucks and on-site generator sets – all essential in the construction business – alternative fuels which have a proven track record were needed to be sought.
Providing grant funding for the development and demonstration of low carbon alternatives to diesel for the construction, quarrying and mining sectors, the UK Government competition was designed with the aim of decarbonising industries reliant on red diesel and providing a platform for alternative research and development in this area. (2)
One of the successful projects ‘HYDRATE’ was awarded to Dolphin N2:
HYDRATE – Hydrogen Recuperated Advanced Thermal Engine
Lead Partner: Dolphin N2 Limited
Partners: University of Brighton; Costain Limited
Total grant: £448,611.78
The HYDRATE project was designed to develop a hydrogen version of the Recuperated Split Cycle Engine (RSCE), a highly innovative, fuel-agnostic thermal engine targeting heavy duty applications.
The RSCE offers very high efficiency (competitive with a PEM fuel cell), and very low emissions (SULEV with aftertreatment).
The RSCE offers an easy route to transition to a net-zero economy as it can use existing ICE manufacture and supply chains, and match existing ICE installation requirements, all with a moderate capital cost increase.
On Wednesday 8th November 2023 many of the projects supported by the original funding were invited to attend the NZIP Innovation Showcase in London.
The NZIP Innovation Showcase was an opportunity to showcase projects and innovations in the hydrogen and industrial decarbonisation space which had been funded through the government’s £1billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).
The event from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), delivered by Innovate UK KTN, was an opportunity to highlight the innovations funded by the HySupply2, Industrial Fuel Switching (IFS), Industrial Hydrogen Accelerator (IHA), Red Diesel Replacement (RDR), Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA), and Green Distilleries Programmes. (4)
Dolphin N2 were invited to the event and Nick Owen – Technical Director, Dolphin N2, was invited to share updates on the Hydrate programme. Other DESNZ projects from across a broad spectrum of sectors were also given opportunities to update attendees on their projects.
The NZIP event provided a unique opportunity to network, share knowledge and findings between innovators and companies working in the hydrogen and industry space. It was also a great platform to meet potential investors and stakeholders in the wider supply chain, as well as participate in a Business Support Roadshow on government funding and private investment.
Written by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.