Project Methilltoune

Published 23 July 2020

Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine at the heart of research into zero-carbon heating

Heating is responsible for up to a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas output: a challenge that must be solved if we are to meet the legally binding net-zero targets set by the UK and Scottish Governments. This is particularly relevant in winter because, from November to March, the energy consumed in the form of natural gas is 300-400% that consumed in the form of electricity in the UK.

Together with partners SGN, Arup and Kiwa, we have been exploring ways of building the world’s first green hydrogen heating network around our 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife.

Why Levenmouth?

ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine (LDT) is a unique open-access facility for trialling and demonstrating innovative technologies and solutions for offshore wind and clean energy. The Turbine is fully operational, powering 7,414 local homes, and it now sits at the centre of a local energy community scheme planned under the ERA-Net Smart Energy Systems CLUE project, funded locally by Scottish Enterprise.

ORE Catapult is committed to showing the world how clean energy can fuel not just the local electricity supply, but also be extended to heating systems by converting wind power to storable green hydrogen. The goal is to show that hydrogen can offer the same levels of resilience and consistency as the existing network – at a significantly lower cost and with less disruption than alternative low-carbon heat solutions.

Project Methilltoune, led by SGN, has offered one promising route to achieving this strategic objective.

Findings from Phase 1

In early 2020, Project Methilltoune published the findings from its initial research on the feasibility of building an integrated wind-hydrogen system around the Levenmouth turbine for extending clean energy to residential heating systems. The full report is available here.

The study provides confidence that the development of the system is feasible from technical, regulatory, financial and safety points of view. Key findings included:

  • Choice of electrolyser model and storage location will have the most significant impact on cost. The study gave several routes to reducing costs through economies of scale, geological storage and storage tanks that would offer flexibility of location for small scale provisions.
  • A shortlist of four potential electrical connection methods were produced for the site. The optimal electrolyser size was determined to be between 4 MW – 4.6 MW to supply a maximum of 900 homes domestic heat demand. The hydrogen storage solution that was considered optimal was steel vessels (cylindrical tanks) at low pressure with an operable range of 3 to 30 bar.
  • How the power provision from the Levenmouth turbine would link with an electrolyser operation was also assessed. The annual electricity generated from this model was an average of 16.0 GWh per year.
  • Control of hydrogen production using pressure measurement was scoped out, showing how the system can mitigate the impact of a variable wind output connected to a continuous demand for hydrogen from the network.
  • The report also outlines a strategy for commercialisation of green hydrogen in the short-term, long-term, 10TWh and beyond.

H100 Fife: Making the UK a green hydrogen trailblazer

In May 2020, project lead SGN submitted its proposal for H100 Fife: a full-scale demonstration bringing 100% green hydrogen into homes for the first time. The project aims to heat 300 homes with green hydrogen produced at a dedicated electrolysis plant powered by the Turbine, with an on-site storage facility providing enough hydrogen to ensure supply won’t be disrupted during even the coldest weather conditions.

If approved, it is anticipated that this system could be fully operational within three years, putting the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine at the heart of a blueprint for decarbonised heating around the world.

The full proposal can be viewed on the Ofgem website.

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