Fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems- viable option for greener future.

The Uk’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change will be funding five major government-backed research and development projects intended to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into everyday use. These projects will demonstrate how these technologies can be integrated into other areas of energy and transport (e.g. the generation of renewable energy, a refuelling infrastructure) to develop whole systems and how effectively they can work together.

The projects will be selected through a competitive process, and led by Air Products PLC, BOC Ltd, ITM Power, Rutland Management LTD and SSE plc with the following structure: -

- An end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system (the first of its kind in the UK) which will be centred around a fully publicly accessible, state-of-the-art 200 bar renewable H2 refuelling station network across london. (Air Products PLC- expertise in atmospheric gases, process & specialty gases, performance materials, and equipment & services).

-The delivery of solar energy generated hydrogen for Swindon’s existing public access via an electrolyser, and its use in materials handling vehicles and light vans at Honda’s manufacturing plant (BOC ltd- versed in thousands of different gases and mixtures, as well as related equipment and services).

-The integration of an electrolyser based refueller with renewable energy which will allow zero carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as a transport fuel for a number of vehicles (ITM Power- design and manufacture of hydrogen energy systems for energy storage and clean fuel production).

-The demonstration of a viable solar-hydrogen energy system, with benefits shared by multiple end users of a business park in Surrey, through the necessary provision of green electricity and heat (Rutland Management LTD- expertise in facility management)

-The demonstration of a whole renewable hydrogen system by connecting a 1MWe electrolyser to the grid, in conjunction with an Aberdeenshire windfarm. This will explore grid impacts, and the energy storage potential of hydrogen generation, and provide the green hydrogen produced to power of fleet of fuel cell buses (SSE plc- UK’s best overall energy provider for eight consecutive years)

These projects will accelerate the process towards the commercialisation of fuel cells and hydrogen energy systems.

TED Prize Shows Futuristic Promise And Sustainability

TED is a global conference held annually that brings together innovation from people working in the three respective areas of Technology, Entertainment and Design. This year, it was held in Edinburgh and the $100,000 prize went to an idea rather than a person.

The idea has been called “City 2.0,” and it consists of ten projects that are aimed at improving cities. There are have been five winners so far (with the rest to be announced in Autumn) who have inspiring projects relating to urban transformation.

The UK winners, Alastair Parvin & Nick Lerodiaconou hail from London, and their entry is based around the idea of a ‘Wikihouse.’

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The two designers set out to create a blueprint that would facilitate everyday people to create and live in their own homes, making use of open sourced designs along with materials that have been locally sourced. “For too long, cities have been made by the 1% and consumed by the 99%. We wanted to see what it would take to create something that would allow the 99% to make cities for the 99%.” Says Parvin.

Once they created this blueprint, they posted the designs along with instructions on how to assemble the homes in the hope that normal, everyday people would utilise their idea. They also encouraged others to come up with their own ideas, and since then, five prototypes have been created, in places as far-reaching as Korea and Brazil.

The TED prize fund is said to be increased in 2013 from $100,000 to a massive $1m, giving an even greater incentive to those dedicated to making the world a smarter, better place through technologies. The City 2.0 project is a brilliant example of how people can pool together ideas and give power to the masses to create and sustain their own future.

For more information on City 2.0, visit their website.

 

 

ADI for the development of next generation virtual power plants

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK Government’s innovation agency, awarded their match-funded grant to a consortium set up by technology innovation firm the Advanced Digital Institute (ADI). This consortium included industry partners  such as ENER-G, Flexitricity, Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks. ADI is based in Saltaire, employs 12 staff, and has a customer range from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to corporates. They aim to help digital technology companies innovate.

The £100,000-worth of funding has been won by a project led by ADI to explore the development of “the next generation of virtual power plants”. These centrally-controlled plants will use clusters of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, small-scale generating capabilities at locations such as hospital and business parks, to bolster supply when they are not operating at capacity. The big idea behind this is that they want to help meet peaks in energy demand.

John Eaglesham, chief executive of ADI and managing the initiative, said that ADI s very excited to work together with some of the UK’s key smart grid industry players in addressing the challenge of future energy supply. The project will shore up electricity supply and they will also examine new solutions for low carbon and low cost heat distribution. This could incentivize the UK CHP industry to provide more CHPs in areas where current UK Government incentives have fallen short.

Dave Harson, programme manager at ADI, added to this that this is a completely new business area for ADI. So it’s also quite exciting for them to work in this area where they haven’t previously done any research in.

The feasibility study of ADI will try to find new ways of increasing overall security and efficiency of the electricity system, and decarbonising energy supplies across the UK as demand increases.  The study is scheduled for completion in May 2013.

Mr Harson also said that these assets are already around, they already exist anyway. So we need to tap into those and use them, use that capacity, so we don’t have to invest in other carbon-generating capacities to meet the demand. ADI will also include a large number smaller-scale CHP generators into a virtual power plant because they want to achieve “improves flexibility and greater load-balancing potential to improve resilience of supply and potentially reduce the need to large utility projects”.

Up until 2010, ADI used to receive public sector funding from Yorkshire Forward. But Harson said that business is good for the moment and ADI is now operating independently of any of that type of grant money. The grant they receive from their key partner the Technology Strategy Board is one to fund specific projects, as well as doing commercial work with other customers.

Chris Marsland, technical director at ENER-G, said that the project will investigate the feasibility of using networks of CHP generators to complement and reduce the need for reinforcement of the electricity network. The benefits of this could include greater use of clean electricity supplies, reduced domestic heating costs and less need for electricity infrastructure investments. So the project will benefit the industry and the consumers alike, while reducing carbon emissions.

The project will perform business and technical modeling based on data from UK Power Networks’s London electricity network. They use ENER-G CHP generator and software and a central control system provided by Smarter Grid Solutions. UK Power Network is also leading Low carbon London, a £30m programme that’s largely funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund, to help develop smart electricity networks in Britain.

TSB and DECC R&D Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), are funding five new projects that are researching and developing hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. These government-backed projects want to bring hydrogen and fuel cell technologies into everyday use so they are using research and development to speed up the adoption of energy systems using hydrogen en fuel cell technologies.

They want to develop whole systems and they want to show that fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies can work together with other energy and transport component such as renewable energy generation, refueling infrastructure and vehicles. So energy and transport components can be integrated with the fuel cell systems and hydrogen technologies. These technologies can also be used in low carbon energy systems and transport.

Mark Prisk, Business Minister, said that the UK has innovative business developing world-leading hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. The UK wants to capture a share of the global market by developing a coherent capability and vibrant industry. If they are in the position to capture that share of the market, they will be able to attract international partnerships and inward investment. This will also cause a growth of the national economy and create job opportunities. These five new projects complement the already joint government/industry project called UK H2 Mobility. This project is currently evaluating potential roll-out scenarios for hydrogen for transport in the UK.

Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, said that hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies are at the cutting edge of new low carbon energy solutions. It is important to see how these technologies can be integrated with other energy and transport products and it are these new and exciting government-supported projects that will look into that. He also said that he is looking forward to seeing the results.

The five new projects were selected through a competitive process and will be led by Air Products plc, BOC Ltd, ITM Power (Trading), Rutland Management Ltd and SSE plc. The projects will:

  • Create the UK’s first end-to-end, integrated, green hydrogen production, distribution and retailing system. This will be centered around a fully publically accessible, state-of-the-art 700 bar renewable H2 refueling station network across London (Air Products Plc).
  • Deliver solar energy generated hydrogen for Swindon’s exiting public access H2 refueling station. This will happen via an electrolyser. And its use in materials handling vehicles and light vans at Honda’s manufacturing plant (BOC Ltd).
  • Integrate an electrolyser based refueller with renewable energy on the Isle of Wight. This will enable zero carbon hydrogen to be produced for use as transport fuel for a range of vehicles (ITM Power).
  • Demonstrate a viable solar-hydrogen energy system through the 24/7 provision of green electricity and heat. The benefits will be shared by multiple end users of a business park in Surrey (Rutland Management Ltd).
  • Demonstrate a whole renewable hydrogen system, connecting a 1MWe electrolyser to the grid. This is in conjunction with an Aberdeenshire wind farm. They want to explore the grid impacts and energy storage potential of hydrogen generation, and provide green hydrogen produced to power a fleet of fuel cell buses (SSE plc).

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added that these innovative, large-scale demonstrators will show how fuel cells and hydrogen technologies can be adapted, developed and integrated to provide real-time and real-world low carbon solutions. These projects will also show how the Technology Strategy Board can help the UK businesses to accelerate the development and commercialization of technological innovations.

A grant funding of £9 million is provided by the Technology Strategy Board and DECC. This means the total value of the projects, including contributions from the industrial partners, is in excess of £19 million. The projects are building on previous Government support for fuel cells and hydrogen systems, accelerating the process towards commercialization.

Smart Appliances for a Smarter City

Appliances with multiple functions have become the norm. Appliances that are energy conscious are becoming the need. Whereas the innovative had once been the ability to program your coffee machine to help you wake up each morning, or VHS/DVD combo, smart appliances stand ready to be absorbed into our day-to-day lives.

A smart appliance is a product that uses electricity, and also has the ability to interpret, and act on signals it receives from a utility such as a wireless device, which then modifies it’s operating behavior or energy consumption (e.g. a water heater that only heats the water based on the pattern by which you typically need it).

Smart appliances are going to play a critical role in moving from the current to a Smart Grid infrastructure. While smart appliances are sold as standalone products, typically on the basis of their low-energy consumption and semi-autonomous capabilities, their are further benefits if the Smart Grid becomes more widely adopted. The growth trend for smart appliances in the global market, however, shows a correlation with the successful development of a larger electric Smart Grid.

Though some consumers buy smart appliances for their addition functions, or to reap the potential economic savings that go with, many are reluctant to alter their behavior without proper incentives from utilities companies and appliance manufacturers.

By connecting smart appliances to a Home Energy Management System- which maximises the use of home electricity- while not being a requirement in order to use smart appliance owners, carry with them the potential for a 15% reduction to annual electric bills.