Tag Archives: Department of Energy and Climate Change

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.

Renewable energy wasted because of inefficient current converters

The Department of Energy and Climate Change showed some figures that describe the UK produced 26,000 GWh of electricity in 2010 through renewable energy sources. These sources include wind, biomass, solar and wave generation.

But figures of IQE and XP Power, two British technology companies, show that a lot of this renewable energy produced in the UK is wasted because of inefficient current converters. About 7,600 gigawatt hours of electricity is wasted when converting AC/DC power to the direct current that’s required for electronic devices. The figures show that this is almost a third of the produced ‘renewable’ electricity from all sources in the UK.

In April, David Cameron, Prime Minister, told a group of 23 international energy ministers that the government wants to commit to a ‘green future’ for Britain. This means that they don’t want to rely on fossil fuels. They also want to shut down all but one nuclear power plants by 2023 in the UK and a third of the coal generation fleet must be closed by 2015 because of new EU carbon restrictions.

By 2020, the UK should generate 15 per cent of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources. That’s one of the targets described in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive set. But Drew Nelson, chief executive of IQE, the compound semiconductor maker, said that the government needs to concentrate its energy policies more on power conservation and less on the costly new electricity generation projects.

He said that the UK’s lack of energy efficiency has a massive impact of the national power strategy. The new forms of energy generation are so expensive but a lot of the energy goes to waste. So it’s better to focus on energy efficiency and power conservation.

So IQE is going to take advantage of the push towards energy efficiency. They have ultra-thin epitaxy wafers that are used in the manufacture of semiconductors, present in power converters and low-energy light-emitting diodes. LEDs use 85 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs because they produce almost no heat.

And beside the loss of energy because of inefficient converters, 17,000 GWh of power was also wasted in 2009 in the EU because of electrical devices left on standby. That’s the same as 6.8m tones of carbon dioxide. And it’s forecasted that this will grow to 31,000 GWh by 2020.