A national transition from natural gas to hydrogen is increasingly seen as necessary to meet the UK’s net-zero targets by 2050. The way we use, store and produce energy is changing and hydrogen production is essential if we are to reverse the effects of the climate crisis.
The full potential of current offshore renewable energy sources is partially restricted due to the intermittent nature of the energy source and energy storage capabilities. This essentially means that the current infrastructure may struggle to support a constant supply of offshore renewable energy. Hydrogen generation powered by offshore wind, otherwise known as green hydrogen, will allow us to translate an intermittent energy stream into one that is more easily storable, allowing us to fine-tune output to consumer demand. Green hydrogen is produced without hydrocarbons, and uses wind and solar energy, via electrolysis, to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. This move will be the trigger that could allow renewables to squeeze fossil fuels almost entirely out of our electricity and energy supply by mid-century.
Therefore, large-scale hydrogen production may provide important inter-seasonal energy storage for an energy system sustained by the UK’s abundant renewables, especially offshore wind and marine resources.
This is where the £4m Milford Haven Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) project comes in. MH:EK aims to accelerate the transition to an integrated hydrogen and renewable energy system by creating diverse, local, community-based markets that integrate with, and benefit from, the cluster of major energy infrastructure along the Milford Haven Waterway. The project will build hydrogen-ready features and technologies such as fuel cell RASA cars; hybrid heat pumps and hydrogen-ready boilers for heating into the Port’s housing, commercial and renewables projects and will allow local people to test real-world hydrogen vehicles and home heating equipment.
ORE Catapult, alongside a consortium of partners, is spearheading this transition to hybrid hydrogen and renewable energy production. The partners include:
MH:EK will provide a blueprint for an investible, local, hydrogen-based energy system on the Milford Haven Waterway that will allow for the integration of heat, power and transport. It will help to safeguard local energy and automotive sector jobs and maintain the momentum in the UK’s transition from natural gas to hydrogen.
The Milford Haven Waterway is an ideal location to trial this new approach. It’s located at the centre of nationally important energy infrastructure, with major energy-related investment, targeting efficiency and decarbonisation, underway. Milford Haven, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock have a population of around 30,000 people, providing a range of diverse and representative energy supply and demand centres connected to the local gas and electricity networks.
ORE Catapult is one of the lead partners in MH:EK and will manage the delivery of the project, leading on activities such as stakeholder engagement with, for example, renewable energy generators. The Catapult’s role also includes the delivery of the engineering design of the electrolysers and the modelling of the cost advantages of adding hydrogen into the energy system.