The Hydrogen Stream: UK and Germany invest in tech, mobility and supplies

Written by on March 29, 2022

UK climate tech business Levidian has presented a new device. Loop hydrogen has a typical levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH) of around £2.27/kg, the company told pv magazine. Meanwhile, companies are considering investment in the Celtic Sea, Hamburg, and Galicia and Toyota has announced that hydrogen-powered engine performance has been improved to levels comparable to gasoline engines in just six months.

UK climate tech business Levidian has presented Loop, a device which uses plasma technology to separate methane into its constituent atoms: carbon – which is locked into graphene – and hydrogen, which can be used immediately or stored. The Cambridge-based company called it “a world first,” adding National Grid was recently announced as its first major customer. “Loop hydrogen has a typical levelized cost of hydrogen of around £2.27/kg (€2.71), based on a large-scale Loop installation and using the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s assumptions for calculation,” Levidian CEO John Hartley told pv magazine. “This does not, however, take into account the value of the graphene produced during the production of the hydrogen. The value of the graphene will, in many cases, completely offset the cost of the hydrogen.” The company is working with National Grid’s UK Hydrogen team on the categorization of hydrogen by color and is discussing the issue with the UK government. “Blue hydrogen is typically produced using steam methane reformation with carbon capture, meaning the carbon has to be buried or injected into underground storage,” the company told pv magazine. “Loop, on the other hand, uses a proprietary methane plasma technique that requires no added heat, catalysts, or other additives.” Levidian said that an increase in natural gas prices does affect its production costs, as methane reportedly accounts for approximately 20% of them. “The value in the two products produced by Loop – clean hydrogen and green graphene – are significant,” added the company. “In many cases, our customers are industrial energy consumers who have no viable option except for natural gas. Loop allows them to not only decarbonize that fuel but also to produce graphene that can be resold.”

Wind to hydrogen

UK-based Source Energie and green hydrogen company ERM Dolphyn plan to use Celtic Sea floating wind power sites to produce green hydrogen rather than generate electricity. “The first site under development is called Dylan,” wrote ERM Dolphyn last week. “It has a target deployment date of 2027-28 and is located approximately 60km off the Pembrokeshire coast, west of Milford Haven … Both parties agree that the location is ideal as it offers good energy generating conditions (more than 10m/s average wind speeds) [and] strong expansion potential, and has a number of viable low impact pipeline routes to areas of existing and growing hydrogen demand.” The company added, future expansion of the sites could generate more than 2GW of energy.

The British government has announced £200 million (€239 million) for 1,000 green buses, including electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. The government on Saturday stated a dozen areas in England, “from Greater Manchester to Portsmouth, will receive grants from the multi-million pound package to deliver electric or hydrogen powered buses as well as charging or fueling infrastructure, to their region.”

Berlin summit

Germany is also working on its hydrogen plans with officials meeting their US counterparts in Berlin this week. The meetings will include industry executives discussing LNG and hydrogen supply options. During the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, German foreign minister Annalena  Baerbock said the country has to phase out Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible. 

The country is also working on domestic production. The City of Hamburg, for instance, has announced completion of a feasibility study on the conversion of the Moorburg hard-coal fired power plant to electrolysis for green hydrogen production. “The study concludes that electrolysis for the production of green hydrogen at the Moorburg site, with a capacity of up to 500MW, is economically and technically feasible. Parts of the existing power plant infrastructure offer excellent conditions for the realization of an electrolyzer. This can be built in parallel with a partial [thermal] power plant dismantling and [could be] subsequently expanded. The time line possible under the important projects of common European interest (IPCEI) funding procedure, with commissioning of the plant by 2026, is considered realistic,” the city wrote last week. It also noted, a biomass co-generation plant, a gas and steam power plant, or a high-temperature storage facility were not considered reasonable. 

H2 Mobility Deutschland has secured €110 million after Hy24 announced a €70 million investment today. Industrial shareholders Air Liquide, Daimler Truck, Hyundai, Linde, OMV, Shell, and TotalEnergies will collectively contribute a further €40 million. The cash will enable H2 Mobility Deutschland to upgrade its refueling station network and build new hydrogen stations to meet demand from commercial vehicles and vehicles which are in intensive use. H2 Mobility Deutschland, which runs more than 90 hydrogen refueling stations, wants 300 by 2030. The €70 million investment “is being made by Hy24 through the Clean H2 Infra Fund, the world’s largest hydrogen fund to date,” the project stated.

Carburos Metálicos, part of the Air Products Group, has successfully concluded its participation in the test circulation and refueling of the first hydrogen bus in Galicia. The test took place this month. “The Xunta de Galicia has expressed its future intention to integrate this zero-emission technology in its intercity public transport network in order to move towards its extensive implementation,” the company wrote last week. The vehicle, made by CaetanoBus, has traveled around 200km per day between the airport of A Coruña and the city center. “Another aspect that has been highlighted during this test is that refueling with H2 [hydrogen] is as simple and fast as with any other fuel, which facilitates its intensive use,” the company added.

Strategy

The EU’s joint Research and Innovation Initiative on Green Hydrogen has presented its research and innovation strategic agenda. The project, coordinated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, provides the basis for “concrete steps towards implementation at a hybrid conference on 16 and 17 May,” the ministry wrote this month.

Toyota will enter Japanese motorsport the Super Taikyu Series 2022 with three vehicles equipped with powertrains that use different fuels, including a hydrogen engine-equipped Corolla. “In the … six months between the first round, in May of last year, and the final round in November, engine performance was improved to levels comparable to gasoline engines, with a 24% increase in power output and 33% increase in torque, along with successful control over abnormal combustion,” Toyota wrote this month, of its hydrogen-powered vehicle. “However, improved cruising range and reduced hydrogen filling time for practical use are major issues that will be addressed throughout the year.”

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