As a clean energy carrier, hydrogen can play a major role in the transition to a low carbon economy, enabling greater uptake of renewable generation onto the electricity grid.
Hydrogen offers an option for long duration energy storage, particularly at the renewable electricity penetrations targeted by UK and Welsh Government over the next decade and beyond the increased renewable contribution will increase variability in supply and the potential disparity between supply and demand.
SERC have an established programme of R&D into the role that hydrogen can play as a long duration energy store to overcome the imbalances caused by the intermittency of renewables.
Hydrogen offers an option for long duration energy storage
Through the collaborative EPSRC SUPERGEN UK Sustainable Hydrogen Energy Consortium (£5.94m 2007-2012), the University of South Wales investigated the integration of hydrogen generation with embedded renewable energy systems.
The research demonstrated that energy stored in the form of hydrogen could increase the amount of energy accepted onto the electricity networks. This work has been taken forward with the establishment of the University of South Wales’ Hydrogen Centre at Baglan in 2008, with the installation of new alkaline electrolyser, compression and storage and a stationary PEM fuel cell, in collaboration with Air Liquide, Hydrogenics and UPS Systems (£2.2 million ERDF funded).
This work has been further extended via the ERDF / LCRI CEP project CymruH2Wales (£6.3million 2010-2014), where work has included close collaboration with ITM Power on a range of PEM electrolyser based hydrogen systems, including field testing of a novel direct DC-DC solar PV fed electrolyser and testing of a larger PEM electrolyser for energy storage and vehicle refuelling.
Work continues on these hydrogen system test platforms via the ERDF / LCRI SOLCER project (£635k 2012-2014), considering hydrogen based energy storage at building, community and grid scale and the EcoIsland Hydrogen Refueller project (£4.66m TSB) considering the electrolytic translation of renewable electricity to a vehicle fuel.
Improvements to Electrolyser design and control have also resulted, together with a greater understanding of the safety requirements of building integrated hydrogen systems.