Government focuses on hydrogen in £90m industrial decarbonisation funding

The UK Government has announced £90m in funding to help cut emissions from industrial processes and the built environment, including the backing of two low-carbon hydrogen production plants.

The funds will explore and trial technologies that can switch industrial production from fossil fuels to renewables

The funds will explore and trial technologies that can switch industrial production from fossil fuels to renewables

The UK Government has announced that £70m will be spent to fund low-carbon hydrogen production plants near Mersey and Aberdeen, while a third project will use offshore windfarms off the Grimsby coast to produce clean hydrogen.

The funds will explore and trial technologies that can switch industrial production from fossil fuels to renewables in industries including glass and cement production.

An additional £20m will be used to fund projects to cut domestic household emissions through local smart energy projects. More than 250,000 people could have their homes powered by renewables as a result, with the Government claiming that electricity bills could be halved for those who partake in the trials.

Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Cleaning up emissions from industry and housing is a big challenge but today’s £90m investment will set us on the right path as we develop clean technologies like hydrogen.

“This is an important part of our world-leading efforts in eliminating our contribution to climate change by 2050 while also growing our economy, creating up to two million green-collar jobs across the country by 2030.”

Hydrogen could provide clean energy for our homes, businesses and transport networks, if it is produced from low-carbon sources, or the carbon emissions created from it are captures. As such hydrogen could help eliminate the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK and is seen as a critical part of the future energy mix.

In fact, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme has today (18 February) set aside a further £7.5m to set up a project at Cranfield University that will test low-carbon hydrogen production.

The programme will support the HyPER project (Bulk Hydrogen Production by Sorbent Enhanced Steam Reforming) that will see a 1.5 Megawatts thermal (MWth) pilot plant constructed at Cranfield University. The project centres on hydrogen production technology invented by GTI that captures emissions during the hydrogen production process and shifts the chemical reactions to favour the production of more hydrogen. GTI claims that hydrogen can be produced at an up to 30% lower cost than traditional methods as a result.

The pilot plant will be constructed this year and become operational in 2021.

Industrial challenge

The £90m funding announcement and its focus on industrial processes come just two weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to bring the phase-out of coal-fired power plants forward to 2024.

Industrial emissions account for around 20% of the UK’s total carbon emissions but remain difficult to reduce due to the energy intensity of the processes. The Committee on Climate Change noted that Government plans to enable businesses and industry to make a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 would be crucial if the UK is to meet its net-zero target for 2050.

In related news, BEIS’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) has highlighted eight innovations that will be funded through the Government to improve efficiencies related to energy use, low-carbon production and resource efficiency in industrial processes.

Managed by the Carbon Trust, the Accelerator has set aside £4.6m in public grant funding, matched with £4.4m in private sector backing as part of phase two of the project.

The eight projects are:

  • Ultrasonic technology to reduce the energy required for plastics manufacturing led by Matrix Moulding Systems with industrial demonstration partner Barkley Plastics.
  • Low thermal mass technology for polymer manufacturing led by Surface Generation with industrial partner Tiflex.
  • A magnetically geared motor for increased efficiency in waste processing led by Magnomatics with industrial partners DonXtra (Donasonic), ELLGIA and ATB Group UK (Laurence-Scott).
  • An efficient cooling technology for data centres led by University of Hull with industrial partners AIRCO and NPS Humber.
  • An industrial wastewater filtration system to allow recycling of heated wastewater in the industrial laundry sector by G2O Water Technologies with industrial partners Hydrasyst and Johnsons Textile Services.
  • Low-temperature animal by-product processing technology led by Agritec with industrial partner Edge Close Green Energy.
  • An integrated advanced process control technology for the pulp, paper and board sector led by The Paper Industry Technical Association (PITA) and CF Procsim with industrial partners Smurfit Kappa Townsend Hook, AutomationX, and Perceptive Engineering.
  • Low-energy fertiliser production from wastewater led by CCm Technologies with industrial partner Severn Trent Water.

Matt Mace


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