Pioneering hydrogen project drives Northern Ireland closer to Net Zero
Pioneering hydrogen project drives Northern Ireland closer to net-zero
The Ballylumford Power-to-X Project has finished a yearlong study which proves a fully green gas network for Northern Ireland is not just a pipe dream.
The first of its kind in NI, the research shows that a full cycle hydrogen economy can be achieved, fostering growth in the renewables sector, creating thousands of jobs, bringing inward investment, whilst helping the UK’s meet its net zero targets.
The Ballylumford Power-to-X project team sees local firms B9 Energy, Mutual Energy, Islandmagee Energy and Aberdeen’s Net Zero Technology Centre collaborating to complete the front-end engineering design (FEED) study as part of the UK Government’s Department of Business Energy & Industry Strategy (BEIS) Longer Duration Energy Storage (LODES) Demonstration innovation competition.
The resulting FEED study data shows that the on-site production and storage of hydrogen, taken through a dedicated network, to distribution within the power and transport sectors is possible – highlighting the potential of a zero-carbon energy future for NI.
The project also found that the unique geography of Ballylumford, given its close locality to a salt cavern development project, offers a unique opportunity to create a large-scale renewable hub to help achieve clean-tech targets by 2035 – if further investment and policy support can be secured.
The site’s geology and strategic position with strong connection to major gas and electricity transmission networks, including new offshore wind developments, is unseen anywhere else on the island of Ireland.
David Surplus, Managing Director of B9 Energy welcomed the findings: “The consortium’s team of experts has made significant progress in several areas, establishing what is already technically possible and pointing to where further investment is needed to realise the potential of a net zero future. It will allow us to take full advantage of our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and help end our reliance on volatile, expensive fossil fuels.
“We’ve not only established the technical viability of having a 100% hydrogen transmission pipeline here, but also longer duration and higher capacity storage options to help bolster regular energy supplies across NI. We’ve also created the design and specification of electrolysers and gas blending panel technologies. A fully green hydrogen economy is possible, but now we need actions to make it happen and that will depend on more collaboration between government, regulators and the transport and energy sectors.”
Judith Tweed, Director of Islandmagee Energy added: “The project site’s proximity to strategic energy infrastructure combined with its unique geology allows for largescale, safe storage that is well positioned for the switch to cleaner and more secure energy. It places NI at the heart of the UK’s and ROI’s transition to net zero. The time it will take to construct salt caverns and make the site commercially operational means that work must start now if we are to reach Government targets.
“Large offshore wind projects are ideally suited to our coastline. The production of green hydrogen from excess wind power will balance intermittent generation with existing energy demand patterns – delivering a more secure and sustainable energy for the future.”
Gerard McIlroy, Financial Director at Mutual Energy said: “There is no doubt that hydrogen will be essential to meet NI’s net zero targets and the intervening time must be used to plan, develop, test, and build the necessary infrastructure. Hydrogen will play an important role in the decarbonisation of the NI economy and maintaining robust security of energy supply for consumers here.
“Collaboration between industry and government will be key to delivering the energy transition and it is vital that policy is developed in a way that allows the potential of the hydrogen economy to be realised.
“This project has demonstrated that producing, transporting, and storing green hydrogen in Northern Ireland is possible. What we need now to unlock investment is targeted government support and co-ordinated policy initiatives to stimulate our hydrogen economy and help to decarbonise power generation.”
Craig Nicol, Project Manager, Net Zero Technology Centre commented: “The findings from the Ballylumford Power-to-X Project offer a key solution in developing a resilient energy supply chain whilst reducing carbon emissions, positioning NI and the UK at the forefront of net zero objectives.
“Government plans to decarbonise the electricity system by 2035 using home-grown, green technologies can be a reality, if support and collaboration in the sector happens now. The manufacture, assembly and maintenance of wind farms and electrolysers will create job opportunities and future export potential as Europe invests to meet its net zero ambitions and respond to the current energy market challenges.”
The Ballylumford Power-to-X project was funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
For more information on the project and its partners visit www.ballylumfordp2x.co.uk