Consumer tastes and preferences are changing. The driver to these behavioural changes can almost be linked to technological innovation. Technology is one part of a three-pronged phenomenon that’s behind the electric vehicle revolution. The other two key drivers are environmental awareness and political policy changes.
Is the UK geared up for the rise in electric vehicles?
Most recently, point 4 of Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan announced in November 2020 stated, ‘We’ll invest more than £2.8bn in electric vehicles, lacing the land with charging points and creating long-lasting batteries in UK gigafactories. This will allow us to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in 2030. However, we will allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035.’
The UK has committed to Net-Zero carbon emissions by 2050. Transport is currently the largest emitting sector of the UK economy, responsible for 27% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions; within this, cars are responsible for 55% of transport emissions. Electric vehicles (EVs, or sometimes known as Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVS)) offer one method of reducing emissions, with the Committee for Climate Change (CCC) suggesting that all new vehicles should be electrically propelled by 2035, if not sooner, to achieve the Net Zero target.
Simply, the nation will only be in a position to ban new petrol cars by 2035 if the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is fit for purpose….
What are Electric Vehicles (EVs)
EVs run, either partially or wholly, on electricity, stored on board the vehicle in batteries or produced from hydrogen. Whilst cars represent 92% of the 432,000 ULEVS licensed (1.1% of all licensed vehicles) at the end of 2020, there are also electric motorcycles, taxis, buses, vans and heavy goods vehicles. The market for EVs is immature, yet growing, with 8.5% of registered vehicles ULEVs in 2020. Meanwhile, only 1.8% of used car sales, responsible for approximately 80% of transactions, involved alternatively fuelled vehicles.
‘The ban’ on the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles
Reported by Powersystems The original deadline for the ban on new petrol and diesel sales was 2040 but in February this year, Boris Johnson announced at the UN climate conference (COP26) that the government will bring this forward to 2035 or earlier if feasible, subject to consultation. Another five years has been taken off the original deadline, but the 2035 date is reportedly being kept for the end of hybrid car sales.
Unofficially In February, 2020 Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced his intention to bring forward the ban on sales of new petrol, vehicles from 2040 to 2032. The subsequent Covid-19 pandemic, lockdown and accompanying economic downturn brought the car industry to a standstill in the UK, the Government has since put the 2032 target back to 2035.
2020 was set to be a landmark year for electric vehicle innovation. However, in April 2020 new vehicle sales were down 97% on the previous year. According to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders which show pure battery-electric cars held just a 1.6 per cent share of the new car market last year.
As of May 2021, the number of total electric cars registered in the UK were more than 535,000 plug-in vehicles with approx. 260,000 BEVs and 280,000 PHEVs registered. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) made up 8.4% of all new cars sales in May 2021, with 13,120 registrations. That was down from 12.0% in May 2019, when the figure was boosted by EV firms such as Tesla continuing contactless deliveries. In the first five months of 2021, the 54,051 BEVs sold accounts for 7.5% of the market, compared with 4.3% in 2020.
Launching a car scrap-page scheme?
And of course to support the conversion to electric vehicle the government is reportedly considering launching a car scrap-page scheme, in which drivers could be given up to £6,000 to trade in their diesel or petrol vehicle for an electric one. However, earlier in March this year the government cut the electric car grant from £3,000 to £2,500, and lowered the upper price limit for eligible vehicles from 50,000 to 35000. The move attracted criticism from industry experts who said it sent out the wrong message. Should the reported £6,000 initiative go ahead, it would mean price parity between many electric vehicles and their petrol counterparts.
Is the UK charging infrastructure fit for purpose?
A report issued on the 19 May by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the 2030 target would be missed without urgent action to improve infrastructure – The government has a “mountain to climb” to reach its goals of phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and for all new cars to be zero-emission by 2035.
PAC criticised the government for lacking a plan to achieve these targets and tackle the consequences of an all-electric car society, including the impact on the future power needs, the impact on the skills and capabilities required to support the changeover and the impact on the government tax-take due to the loss of fuel duties.
PAC also detailed recommendations into charging infrastructure, stating it isn’t convinced that the government has “sufficiently thought through” how this will expand at the pace required to meet the targets.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has made assumptions about the types of journeys people will make and how they charge their car, but not estimated the number of charge points required across the country to keep up with the increase in electric vehicles (EVs).
Alongside the additional work needed on on-street charging, both the DfT and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) also need to work with other departments to consider the practical implications of the transition to zero-emission cars, the PAC said.
In particular, they should set out how they are going to manage the wider societal impacts such as the impact on power generation and transmission and retraining the workforce.
According to National Grid Future Energy Scenario (FES), the UK needs approximately 87-113GW (scenario dependent) of renewables capacity by 2030 and 197-231GW by 2050. The current market and options available for new-build renewables are inadequate to keep the UK on track to meet its net-zero target.
As Baroness Brown, vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, stated at June 2021 launch of the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign, “the UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries. We can ‘t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen”.
It looks like the UK is on track for missing the annual ramp up rate of 5 GW as well, with new build renewables currently facing a tough choice regarding their route to market options, with challenging and volatile market conditions making it tough to secure investment and ultimately build-out projects. Reform is needed now!
The National Grid believes that consumer behavior will change to avoid charging at peak times, therefore resulting in a less significant increase to peak demand.
Wider proliferation of electric vehicles will add demand to the grid. However, “smart charging” or “vehicle to grid” can reduce charging at peak times, and the batteries in the vehicles could become an asset to the National Grid, as they have the potential to be used for grid balancing. ‘Smart’ use of the electricity system involves using power at times when demand (and therefore prices) is low. Consumers can benefit from cheaper power, and operators benefit from an easier to balance system and avoiding all cars being charged simultaneously, such as at the end of rush hour.
Smart meters, which are currently being rolled out, have the potential to allow more detailed information on consumption to be sent to energy suppliers, and more reactive use of power for customers. For example, ‘Time-of-use’ tariffs are already available from some energy suppliers, rewarding customers with smart meters who choose to sign up for using power at times of low demand. Integrating smart devices, such as smart charging electric cars, into this mechanism could mean that additional demand for electric cars is significantly reduced.
An extension of smart charging, the concept of ‘Vehicle to Grid’ (V2G), is that when supply is low and demand high, EVs connected to the grid to charge can instead release power back into the grid. Owners of the vehicles can then be paid for this balancing service in a similar way to electricity storage unit operators. In theory, if a vehicle is needed to be charged for a certain time the owner could register that time and this would override the use of the car as a power source. Some suppliers have been developing V2G offers for their customers, though availability is currently limited
Are consumers ready to switch to EVs?
Today, it is a widely held view by the man on the street that a petrol vehicle is more reliable than an electric vehicle, because you are never to far from a petrol pump! The majority of the car-buying public aren’t ready to switch to an electric car.
Perceptions by approx. 27.8 million households advised by the energy regulator Ofgem found that they were unlikely to get an electric vehicle, because batteries do not offer enough range between charges, lack of on-street charging points near homes and of course the price is to high. All points play a significant concern when thinking about switching to an EV.
Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 13.6% of new cars sold in the past four months had a plug, while figures from the Department for Transport show that more than half-a-million ultra-low emission vehicles are now being driven on roads across the country.
New research suggests that around one in four households across the UK plan to buy an electric car or plug-in hybrid in the next five years.
It has been reported that there are more public places to charge an Electric Vehicle in the UK (around 30,000) than there are petrol stations, but like all statements ‘the context’ is really important…
Zap-Map.com a UK-wide charging points map for electric cars, says that 24,649 charging points have been installed in 15,680 locations, and 700 added in the last 30 days, with more being added every day. To give you an idea, currently there are charging locations for example 7,526 in London, 2,558 in Scotland, 1742 in the South West.
However, at the time of writing there are currently only 1,080 ultra-rapid charge points and 2,970 rapid chargers at locations in the UK, and this means the difference in facilities on offer between a 20-minute ultra-rapid charge, to hanging around for what could be literally hours.
Quick guide on the the main types of chargers
There are three main types of EV charging – rapid, fast, and slow. These represent the power outputs, and therefore charging speeds, available to charge an EV. Power is measured in kilowatts (kW). Each charger type has an associated set of connectors which are designed for low- or high-power use, and for either AC or DC charging.
50 kW DC charging on one of two connector types
43 kW AC charging on one connector type
100+ kW DC ultra-rapid charging on one of two connector types
All rapid units have tethered cables
Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an EV, often found at motorway services or locations close to main routes. Rapid devices supply high power direct or alternating current – DC or AC – to recharge a car as fast as possible. Depending on model, EVs can be recharged to 80% in as little as 20 minutes, though an average new EV would take around an hour on a standard 50 kW rapid charge point.
Ultra-Rapid DC chargers provide power at 100 kW or more. These are typically either 100 kW, 150 kW, or 350 kW – though other maximum speeds between these figures are possible. These are the next-generation of rapid charge point, able to keep recharging times down despite battery capacities increasing in newer EVs. For those EVs capable of accepting 100 kW or more, charging times are kept down to 20-40 minutes for a typical charge, even for models with a large battery capacity. Even if an EV is only able to accept a maximum of 50 kW DC, they can still use ultra-rapid charge points.
7kW fast charging on one of three connector types
22kW fast charging on one of three connector types
11kW fast charging on Tesla Destination network
Units are either untethered or have tethered cables
Fast chargers are typically rated at either 7 kW or 22 kW (single- or three-phase 32A). The vast majority of fast chargers provide AC charging, though some networks are installing 25 kW DC chargers with CCS or CHAdeMO connectors. Charging times vary on unit speed and the vehicle, but a 7 kW charger will recharge a compatible EV with a 40 kWh battery in 4-6 hours, and a 22 kW charger in 1-2 hours. Fast chargers tend to be found at destinations such as car parks, supermarkets, or leisure centres, where you are likely be parked at for an hour or more.
3 kW – 6 kW slow charging on one of four connector types
Charging units are either untethered or have tethered cables
Includes mains charging and from specialist chargers
Often covers home charging
Most slow charging units are rated at up to 3 kW, a rounded figure that captures most slow-charging devices. In reality, slow charging is carried out between 2.3 kW and 6 kW, though the most common slow chargers are rated at 3.6 kW (16A). Charging on a three-pin plug will typically see the car draw 2.3 kW (10A), while the majority of lamp-post chargers are rated at 5.5 kW because of existing infrastructure – some are 3 kW however. Charging times vary depending on the charging unit and EV being charged, but a full charge on a 3 kW unit will typically take 6-12 hours. Most slow charging units are untethered, meaning that a cable is required to connect the EV with the charge point.
Investment to get Britain ready for more electric vehicles
Ofgem unveils £300m investment to get Britain ready for more electric vehicles. – Ofgem is to invest £300m on more than 200 low carbon projects to get Britain ready for more electric vehicles, with motorway service areas and key trunk road locations across the country set to get the cabling they need to install 1,800 new ultra-rapid charge points. This £300m down payment is just the start of building back a greener energy network which will see well over £40bn of investment in Britain’s energy networks in the next seven years. “The payment will support the rapid take up of electric vehicles which will be vital if Britain is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to. We’re paving the way for the installation of 1,800 ultra-rapid charge points, tripling the number of these public charge points. Drivers will have more charging options for longer journeys.”
UK businesses are set to invest £15.8bn in the electrification of their vehicle fleets over the next year. – A 50% uplift on their spending during the previous 12 months, according to research, commissioned by Centrica Business Solutions, which revealed that UK firms spent £10.5bn on electric vehicles (EVs) and on-site charging points during the year to March 2021 but are now planning £15.8bn of investment in the same area over the next 12 months– a 50% increase year-on-year. Of these businesses, six in ten (58%) cited the need to meet corporate sustainability targets as the biggest driving factor behind their increased adoption of EV, followed by reducing operational disruption caused by low and zero-emission zones (51%) and the attraction of the lower maintenance and whole-life costs offered by EVs (37%). Range anxiety was reported as the chief concern for a third (34%) of these firms, followed by the need to prioritise business investment elsewhere during the height of the coronavirus crisis (32%).Despite this, two-thirds (67%) of all companies polled claimed they are well-prepared to operate a fully electric fleet by 2030, when the Government’s ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles comes into effect.
Now that 2030 is set in stone as the end of new petrol and diesel sales we need to ensure three things to help get us there, sufficient affordable electric vehicles to meet demand, reliable affordable charging infrastructure that’s available to all and a flexible affordable energy system that can deliver green power where it’s needed.
Powersystems UK have been awarded the contract for the design, procurement, installation, testing, commissioning, energisation and hand over of the Electrical Balance of Plant Works associated with the proposed Cowley Private Wire Network, also known as the Oxford Superhub for Pivot Power / EDF Renewables.
This is a prestigious project to be involved in, with the electrification of the Oxford City’s transport links, providing EV charging infrastructure at strategic locations.
The project is located in Cowley, Oxford. The works comprise of 33 kV private wire network between Pivot Power’s BESS at National Grid’s Cowley Substation, Oxford Bus Company bus station and Redbridge Park and Ride. It includes HV AC switchgear and underground cabling, an earthing system, foundation groundworks, substation access control, electrical substations, and associated control and monitoring works.
The works will be connected to the Cowley Battery System 33kV network at the outgoing terminals of the dedicated private wire network metering circuit breaker on the Battery System BESS 33kV switchboard the Point of Connection, (POC).
Providing CoP3 metered 33 kV connections to customers at the outgoing terminals of dedicated metering circuit breakers at an Oxford Bus Company substation and the Redbridge substation.
The Private Wire network crosses private land leased to Pivot Power, public highways including cycle ways and residential areas and private land used as a bus depot and a Park and Ride for the City of Oxford.
The bus depot houses c.120 buses and the park and ride houses c.1400 public parking spaces.
Both sites are active transport links for the city and are extremely busy transport hubs.
The Oxford Superhub is UK’s first grid-scale battery storage system directly connected to the transmission-network as part of the £41 million Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) project and has recently been activated by Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables, Wärtsilä, the global technology company, and Habitat Energy, the battery storage optimisation specialists.
The government-backed project, integrates energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging, low carbon heating and smart energy management technologies to decarbonise Oxford by 2040 and creates a blueprint for other towns and cities to achieve net zero.
The 50MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system will be directly connected to National Grid’s high-voltage transmission system at the Cowley substation on the outskirts of Oxford. It is the first part of what will be the world’s largest hybrid battery, combining lithium-ion and vanadium redox flow systems, which is due to be fully operational later this year. The energy storage system will provide essential flexibility to cost-effectively integrate more renewables, increase system resilience and future-proof the UK’s electricity network.
About Energy Superhub Oxford
Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) is one of three demonstrator projects part-funded by the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund under its “Prospering from the Energy Revolution” (PFER) programme. ESO – a collaboration between Pivot Power, Habitat Energy, Invinity Energy Systems, Kensa Contracting, Oxford University, and Oxford City Council – will showcase rapid electric vehicle charging, hybrid battery storage, low carbon heating, and smart energy management to improve air quality and accelerate Oxford’s zero carbon journey.
The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen
Earlier this year Powersystems reviewedGreen Hydrogen as a renewable energy technologyand some of the challenges the sector faces and that pressure has been building to make more of this gas and to use it to move energy in a form that can burn in power plants and steel mills, energize fuel-cell vehicles and generators, and combine with captured carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels or solid plastics.
The UK government’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” was published in November 2020 stating the intention of publishing a hydrogen strategy in 2021. This also set a target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation capacity and 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, appearing to indicate an intention to play a leading role in European hydrogen development.
The State of the Hydrogen Nation Survey was launched this month by the Hydrogen Strategy Now group (campaign partners include; Vattenfall, Alexander Dennis, EDF, ITM Power, Orsted, Siemens, BOSCH and many more) to analyse the views of industry leaders on the progress and potential of the UK Hydrogen sector to date. The survey advises that the UK could miss out on millions in investments and tens of thousands of jobs in the next decade unless the Government raises its 5 GW Hydrogen target.
More than three-quarters of respondents to Hydrogen Strategy Now’s ‘State of the Hydrogen Nation’ survey said the 5 GW hydrogen production target set out in the PM’s Ten Point Plan is not ambitious enough. And almost half said the lack of a clear Hydrogen Strategy has seen the UK “miss out on valuable investments” into UK hydrogen projects, while 81% said the UK was failing to meet its hydrogen potential.
Around 60% of respondents said they were not confident that the Hydrogen Strategy would create a “world leading” hydrogen market, which the Government has set as its measurement of success. The survey also revealed that industry experts believe that Scotland is far ahead of the other devolved administrations when it comes to hydrogen ambitions.
Hydrogen is Point Two in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. It featured heavily in the Energy White Paper, and there are several major upcoming policy documents that are expected to include significant commitments on hydrogen – the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Heat and Buildings Strategy, and the Hydrogen Strategy itself.
The global hydrogen race
The global hydrogen race is gathering speed. The global hydrogen economy is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, supporting 30 million jobs. Other nations, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and China have already set ambitious strategies for growing their hydrogen economies.
Germany joined this list with their own €9 billion hydrogen strategy. Reported last week by the German National Hydrogen Council, it is estimated by the German Fraunhofer Gesellschaft that 80 terawatt hours (TWh) will be needed by 2030, and 400 to 800 TWh by 2050. The demand for Hydrogen will be even greater than previously assumed and reported.
The European Commission is also creating an EU hydrogen strategy, which includes plans for multi-billion-euro investment in hydrogen projects, and schemes to boost sales of hydrogen electric vehicles.
Last year, the EU and 15 other countries published hydrogen plans. At least $300bn is expected to be invested globally over the next decade by the public and private sectors, with some even projecting that hydrogen could meet almost a fifth of global energy demand. The potential reward is great. By strategically placing, in the PM’s words, a “big bet” on hydrogen now, the UK can create thousands of highly skilled green jobs, attract investment and unlock large scale export opportunities, increase energy security and position itself world leader in a future $2.5tr hydrogen economy. However, many other nations are also alert to this Net Zero and economic opportunity and are moving fast to position themselves at the front of the global hydrogen race
The race to lead this industry has started, evidenced by the billions being invested into hydrogen by Governments across the world. As Baroness Brown, vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, stated at the launch of the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign, “the UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries. We can ‘t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen”.
Britain can win the race for hydrogen supremacy if it faces down competition from Japan
Japan has made an unprecedented commitment to hydrogen power as an alternative energy source, investing US$19.2 billion in the technology in new funding alone. As first out of the starting blocks, Japan has staked its claim as the world leader in the industry. We are at a critical juncture, however, and there is a golden window of opportunity for the UK to become a serious hydrogen player.
The hydrogen strategy in Japan is bold and far-reaching. So, how can the UK match Japan’s efforts and become the pre-eminent hydrogen world power? There are a host of simple policies which must be implemented as soon as possible in order to steal a march on the competition.
First of all, we need mechanisms to incentivise hydrogen vehicles, along with a similar incentive for each kilogram of hydrogen sold. This can be quickly achieved through the liberalisation of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which has recently gone out for public consultation. Looking further, we hope the hydrogen strategy will enable the development of a more refined scheme, such as potentially contracts for difference.
The government must throw its support behind hydrogen trains, as being achieved currently in the EU (we reported in last month’s NewsWatch with the very first orders for dual powered hydrogen-electric trains in France ) and back the mass deployment of hydrogen buses, again it was announced this week that London is the first city in England to put hydrogen-powered double-decker buses on the streets after a new fleet was launched this week. Transport for London (TfL) yesterday added 20 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses to the 500 electric buses already in service in London, hopefully this will kick-start investment in UK-made buses as well as stimulate hydrogen production.
The hydrogen-power construction of the nuclear power station, Sizewell C should be a blueprint for the future of construction, one of the most emissions-heavy industries in the UK. All of these policies have the ability to accelerate progress to net zero, stimulate private investment and create jobs across the United Kingdom, with minimal taxpayer spend.
Hydrogen electric vehicles – Pros and Cons
Hopium unveils its hydrogen-powered sedan prototype and opens the first 1000 pre-orders
Hopium the new French manufacturer of hydrogen powered sedans, unveils its very first rolling prototype during the ‘Viva Technology’ week in Paris. This high-end vehicle, aims to be the first French-powered sedan to hit the market in 2026. The Machina prototype will be equipped with a 700-bar Type IV vessel made by Plastic Omnium in its Herenatls plant (Belgium).
Announced in October 2020 and produced in record time in the Linas-Montlhéry test workshop, this vehicle called Alpha 0, certifies the reliability of the fuel cell system. After the design and architecture phases, followed by the implementation of the various components within the vehicle, the prototype was able to be evaluated and perfected through bench and track tests. With a speed of 200 km/h (124 mph), this test version already borders on the performance promised by the Hopium Machina in its final form. Alpha 0 also introduces for the first time the signature lighting, emblem of Hopium, whose shape is reminiscent of the stratification of hydrogen and the movement of waves on the surface of water. The Hopium teams are already fully committed in carrying out the next steps, aiming to produce Hopium Machina on an industrial scale, with a new rendez-vous expected in the first quarter of 2022.
The Inherent problem with Hydrogen Cars
According to European non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment, for every 100kWh of renewable electricity, you get 77kWh of useable energy from a battery EV (BEV), but only 30kWh in a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV). A green-hydrogen-powered EV therefore requires more than two-and-a-half times the amount of electricity as a BEV.
One of the arguments in favour of FCEVs is that they can be filled up like petrol or diesel vehicles, eliminating the range anxiety associated with EVs — presuming that H2 fuelling will be widely available. It is also argued that they will be easier than BEVs for drivers who do not have easy access to a charging point, such as those who live in apartments or do not have a driveway.
But as Volkswagen recently pointed out, while explaining its decision to focus on BEVs, FCEVs will always be a more expensive option, and their perceived advantages will soon be undermined. “With the battery-powered e-car, driving remains affordable. Current e-models are already at the price level of comparable combustion engine models. “In contrast, the hydrogen car will always remain more expensive than the battery car – due to the complex technology and high fuel costs. Drivers already pay around €9-12 per 100km for a hydrogen car, while battery cars cost only €2-7 per 100km (depending on electricity prices in individual countries). And the topic of long-distance travel? That will soon no longer play a role. With the new generation of e-cars, ranges will increase to 400km to 600km, while charging will become increasingly faster.”
Blow to clean hydrogen sector as major truck maker rules out H2 for long distance transport
Volkswagen-owned Scania, which has produced both battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicles, has concluded that H2 will be too inefficient and expensive for long-distance transport. “Scania has invested in hydrogen technologies and is currently the only heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer with vehicles in operations with customers. However, going forward the use of hydrogen for such applications will be limited since three times as much renewable electricity is needed to power a hydrogen truck compared to a battery electric truck. A great deal of energy is namely lost in the production, distribution, and conversion back to electricity,” the Swedish manufacturer said in a statement. Scania’s aim is to be the leader in the shift towards a sustainable transport system. Battery electric vehicles will be the main tool to drive this shift and to enable decarbonised transport solutions with better transport economy to customers.”
China to spend billions on hydrogen vehicles despite a minimal supply of clean H2
Concerns have been raised in China that an investment boom in technology and infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered vehicles risks being undermined because of insufficient supplies of clean H2. Incentivised by government subsidies, 35 projects related to fuel cells, fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations worth a combined 110bn yuan ($17bn) have been signed in China in the first five months of 2021. Most of these plans have involved investment in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refilling stations, which can be built a lot more cheaply and faster than large-scale hydrogen production projects. However, few have thought about where the Hydrogen supply will come from. Read more here
Embryonic markets and rapid growth of key technologies
Wind could produce affordable green hydrogen by 2030
Wind power could make it possible to produce hydrogen without emitting greenhouse gases as cheaply as is currently feasible with fossil fuel energy by 2030, turbine maker Siemens Gamesa (SGREN.MC) said in a white paper released on June 9. Using onshore wind turbines to power electrolysers that extract hydrogen from water could become as cheap as making it using fossil fuels by 2030, and offshore wind could get there by 2035, Siemens Gamesa said. It also said it would only be possible to bring down the cost of green hydrogen and boost production if government and industry speed up building renewable capacity, developing a supply chain and supporting infrastructure. “We can’t underestimate the challenge of producing green hydrogen at the scale needed to deliver on the 2050 net zero targets,” it said. Electrolysers and battery storage can be added to existing wind farms, and sites near places that demand hydrogen can also start to produce it, the company said. Siemens Gamesa, which dominates the global market for offshore wind turbines, said it is speeding up work on a prototype system to produce hydrogen powered by offshore wind in the next five years. read more
Europe on track for 2.7GW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity by 2025
The total announced project capacity within the European hydrogen electrolyser market would take the green hydrogen sector to 2.7 GW by 2025 – a nearly 50-fold increase on capacity built over the last ten years. This is according to research conducted by Delta-EE’s new Global Hydrogen Intelligence Service, the study indicates that over the past decade, project activity around clean hydrogen has been growing quickly, with 67 operational projects including electrolysers, offering a total capacity of 56MW, developed across 13 different countries. These projects produce an estimated 4,700 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, with approximately half of this consumed by the transport industry and approximately one third used for decarbonising industrial applications, such as petrochemical refining.
The study found that currently nearly half of all European electrolyser capacity is in Germany, while no other country has more than 10MW installed. However, the sector is expanding fast; the first major projects in several countries (e.g. Spain, Netherlands, Denmark) will be at the 10s of MW scale in 2021/22 and will soar towards the 100s MW by 2025. A key factor in this growth will be the increase in manufacturing capacity of electrolyser manufacturers.
Light hearted updates on Hydrogen
For the first time, the Eiffel Tower in Paris has been lit up by electricity produced from certified renewable hydrogen.
The hydrogen, supplied by Air Liquide, lit up the Tower for a laser show during the Paris de l’hydrogène event organised by Energy Observer. The event is showcasing the potential role of hydrogen in France’s green recovery, as well as raising awareness of the energy transition in general.
I’m lovin it: McDonald’s Switzerland ships its Big Mac ingredients in a green hydrogen truck
McDonald’s Big Mac and hydrogen; probably not two things you were expecting to read in a sentence today. But ingredients for the famous hamburger and other products were shipped to a McDonald’s restaurant in Switzerland in a green hydrogen truck last month. Logistics company Havi said it transported the goods from its centre in Oensingen, Solothurn to the McDonald’s site in Crissier, Vaud – and it called the journey a world first. Boasting a range of 400km, this hydrogen truck runs quietly as well as emission-free; refuelling with green hydrogen created using renewable energies takes just 10 minutes.
Read more about building the clean electrification at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy, the UK’s first Hydrogen town and New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways in Aprils’ Hydrogen review.
Read more about Net Zero by 2050, the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, Five T a private hydrogen infrastructure fund as well as Hydrogen trains, planes and automobiles in May’s Hydrogen review
Powersystems has become a Mates in Mind supporter.
Mates in Mind is a registered UK charity raising awareness, addressing the stigma of poor mental health and promoting positive mental wellbeing across workplaces. They help to make sense of available options and support companies to address mental health within their workplace.
Mates in Mind is a programme delivered to the UK construction industry with the support of the Health in Construction Leadership Group. It has created a flexible and joined-up approach to break the silence and stigma surrounding mental health in society, in general and construction in particular.
Mates in Mind promotes a culture of positive well-being and provides firms with a tiered training framework to build understanding, knowledge and confidence in tackling mental health throughout businesses.
According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, in the UK alone, there were workers suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2019/20, which resulted in around 38.8 million working days lost.
For the construction industry in particular, the negative impact of the global pandemic has added to an already pervasive mental health challenge within the sector. As reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the suicide rate among construction workers is already three times the national average for men, equating to more than two construction workers taking their own life every day.
Further industry data reports that:
55% of construction workers have experienced mental health issues
42% of construction workers are living with mental health issues at their current workplace
Construction deaths from suicide are also believed to be potentially 10x higher than that of fatal accidents at work.
This integral programme will ensure a consistent industry-wide approach to tackling the stigma around mental health within our industry.
The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen
Powersystems recently reviewed Green Hydrogen as a renewable energy technology and some of the challenges the sector faces and that pressure has been building to make more of this gas and to use it to move energy in a form that can burn in power plants and steel mills, energize fuel-cell vehicles and generators, and combine with captured carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels or solid plastics.
Hydrogen the magical gas that Jules Verne predicted in 1874 would one day be used as fuel is now beginning to get the long struggled attention it deserves, it is lighter than air, more common than carbon, and burns with a bang into a puff of pure water vapor. Some see it as an essential element in decarbonizing electricity, transportation, and even big industry. However, A net-zero world ‘would require 306 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2050 derived from renewable energy each year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.
Now in 2021, the world may be starting to get ready for hydrogen
This gas is capturing the attention of governments and private sector players, fueled by new tech, global green energy legislation, post-pandemic “green recovery” schemes and the growing consensus that action must be taken to combat climate change.
The UK government’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” was published in November 2020 stating the intention of publishing a hydrogen strategy in 2021. This also set a target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation capacity and 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, appearing to indicate an intention to play a leading role in European hydrogen development.
The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance forecasts public and private sectors will invest €430 billion in hydrogen in the continent by 2030 in a massive push to meet emissions targets. Globally, the hydrogen generation industry is expected to grow to $201 billion by 2025 from $130 billion in 2020
Announced April, 8 Independent asset manager FiveT Capital Holding have launched a private infrastructure fund, FiveT Hydrogen Fund, dedicated to delivering clean hydrogen infrastructure projects at scale. The Euro-denominated Fund intends to raise a total of $1,189 billion (€1 billion) from a combination of financial and industrial investors. It will make largely minority co-investments into greenfield projects with key industrial players.
Hydrogen around the world
An eye-opening story in theWall Street Journal described Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion plan to build a car-free megacity, complete with a $5 billion green-hydrogen plant, in a currently uninhabitable swath of its northwestern desert. The story also reports that Australia is considering an equally bold, $36 billion-project to construct 26 gigawatts of wind and solar generation in its arid western state to power production of green hydrogen for export as well as domestic use.
Japan and other nations are touting hydrogen production as a near-term priority and a major element in their long-term plans to decarbonize their economies. In a recent seven-part series on “The race to scale-up green hydrogen,” the Financial Times examined some of the 228 large hydrogen projects—involving $300 billion in capital investment—that have been announced.
A Hydrogen Strategy Steering Committee has been launched in Canada to establish priorities, guide actions, share knowledge and track results to deliver on recommendations outlined in the country’s Hydrogen Strategy.
Uzbekistan has approved a presidential decree to establishing a strategy to boost development of renewable and hydrogen energy. The decree outlines measures to support the introduction of innovative technologies to develop hydrogen and renewable energy sources, build hydrogen infrastructure to promote energy efficiency and security, and enable Uzbekistan’s transition to a green economy.
In Scandinavia, as part of Everfuel’s green hydrogen fuelling strategy, plans have been unveiled for 15 new hydrogen stations to be developed across Sweden by the end of 2023. Such network will comprise of sites developed by Everfuel, as well as stations in the partly EU funded Nordic Hydrogen Corridor initiative, developed in collaboration with the project partners Statkraft, Toyota, Hyundai and Hydrogen Sweden. Under its Scandinavian green hydrogen fuelling strategy, Everfuel hopes to connect the main traffic corridors in Sweden, Norway and Denmark with hydrogen stations.
In Spain, bp, Iberdrola and Enagás plan to develop the largest green hydrogen project in the region of Valencia. The project would be located in the bp refinery in Castellón, where a 20-megawatt (MW) electrolyser will be built, powered by renewable energy produced, among other sources, by a 40 MW photovoltaic plant. In later stages, the electrolysis capacity could be ramped up to 115 MW, becoming the largest green hydrogen project in the refining sector in Spain
A new 1.5 MWth pilot plant is being built at Cranfield University to test an innovative hydrogen production technology that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The HyPER project (Bulk Hydrogen Production by Sorbent Enhanced Steam Reforming) is an international collaboration led by Cranfield University with £7.4 million funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) £505m Energy Innovation Programme.
Currently for road transport, the two most promising alternatives to petrol and diesel are electricity and hydrogen. While battery-electric vehicles dominate media attention, companies such as BMW is to pilot a small series of BMW i Hydrogen NEXT fuel cell vehicles in 2022, based on the German manufacturer’s current BMW X5. Drawing on experience from BMW’s fifth generation of e-drives, the vehicle will be equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell e-drive system.
Van Hool, Hyundai, Siemens and Toyota are working on the production of hydrogen-powered buses, lorries, trains and cars. The the European Commission, governments and cities have long believed that hydrogen is essential to achieving zero emissions in public transport and reducing air pollution.
For example, Paris, Mexico City and Amsterdam plan to replace their current buses and lorries with hydrogen or battery-powered models as early as 2025. Similarly, DHL, Budweiser and the French postal system (La Poste) are adopting hydrogen-powered road transport solutions. However, current hydrogen production is almost entirely powered by fossil fuels, with only 4% of energy coming from renewable sources. Decarbonization of the global transport sector requires a substantial increase in hydrogen production. One of the advantages hydrogen has over battery-powered cars is the speed of refuelling, which is the same as for petrol-powered vehicles, as is the range.
Due to its volume, currently hydrogen fuel is not well-suited to short-distance passenger vehicles but the renewable energy source is ideal for vehicles above 3.5 tons, such as lorries, buses and coaches, and vehicles requiring high availability such as gritters and emergency vehicles.
In the near term, with a major push to accelerate innovation a hydrogen hyper car is being developed in the UK. Coming in 2023 A hydrogen-powered hypercar, according to British start-up Viritech will be launched called the Apricale. Due to go into limited production in two years’ time, its job is to kickstart the nascent company’s journey to becoming “the world’s leading developer of hydrogen powertrain solutions for the automotive, aerospace, marine and distributed power industries”.
Apriciale comes from the Latin word ‘apricus’, which means to be ‘touched by the sun’. Viritech says it’ll be “half the weight of its battery competitors” thanks mainly to a clever new kind of hydrogen storage tank made from graphene composite and integrated into the hypercar’s structure. Just 25 examples will be built beginning in 2023, with between eight and 12 cars finished per year.
Flying with hydrogen
The use of hydrogen in transport is constantly evolving in all mobility sectors. In the air travel sector, for example, at the end of September, European engineering giant Airbus announced plans to make aviation travel emissions-free by 2020 with ZEROe. As reported by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, “Passenger air travel is producing the highest and fastest growth of individual emissions despite a significant improvement in efficiency of aircraft and flight operations over the last 60 years”. According to AirBus, the ZEROe concept can pave the way for greener air travel, reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint by upwards of 50%.
Hydrogen on the Tracks
The rail transport sector is also heading for a major breakthrough in decarbonization. Countries seeking ways to transport people while reducing the emissions of climate-changing gasses are looking at trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
One of the first trains of this kind is Alstom’s Coradia iLint, now being tested in many countries. The trains are equipped with fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen from air into electricity and have a range of approximately 1,000 km, according to the company.
The very first orders for dual powered hydrogen-electric trains in France have been placed this week, in what represents a significant advancement in the technology which could revolutionise sustainable transport. Acting on behalf of the regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie, SNCF Voyageurs has placed an order with manufacturer Alstom for the first 12 dual mode hydrogen-electric trains (plus two optional trainsets) in a contract worth a total of almost €190 million.
“France has everything it needs to become a hydrogen champion: the French government is fully committed to turning this ambition into reality. We will be covering 47 million euros of development costs for France’s first regional hydrogen-powered train. I am delighted that this support has enabled the four partner regions to confirm their order for the first 14 trains,” said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, French Ministry of the Ecological Transition.
Read more about building the clean electrification at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy, the UKs first Hydrogen town and New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways in last months Hydrogen review.
Powersystems are delighted to have been awarded the electrical works contract for the 16.1 MW Hendy Onshore Wind Farm. The wind farm will be located on a site of 150 hectares near the village of Penybont, situated south west of Llandegley, Llandrindod Wells, Wales.
The 66 kV project works at Hendy Wind Farm will see the high voltage electrical engineers Powersystems; design, supply, install, commission and set to work all the electrical works between the point of connection to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) network. The Point of Common Connection (POCC) for Hendy Wind Farm 66/33kV substation will be situated within the WPD 66kV substation.
Powersystems will design, procure and install the 66kV and 33kV equipment for the electrical works project, this is expected to be a 40-week construction programme from start to finish.
The wind farm will comprise of 6no. Enercon E82 wind turbines plus 1no. Vestas V80 wind turbine; these with a Total Installed Capacity (TIC) of 16.1 MW. One turbine (the Vestas V80) is already installed and this will be connected into the overall wind farm system.
Powys Council granted planning consent for the Hendy Wind Farm for the turbines at 2.5 MW with a maximum hub height of 69m and maximum tip height of 110m, associated works, infrastructure, compound and buildings.
Hendy Wind Farm could generate enough energy to meet the demands for around 9,800* homes every year.
It is expected that Hendy Wind Farm will bring economic benefits to the area using materials sourced materials locally and using local companies during construction. Between £4.5m and £6.75m could be spent with local businesses during the construction period.
Wind energy isn’t just good for the environment, the construction of Hendy Wind Farm will deliver meaningful benefits for the local economy and community. A community fund will be set up based on £5,000 per MW per annum, which will deliver over £2m of investment in the local area throughout the lifetime of the wind farm.
As part of building the UK carbon free future, Powersystems proudly support the design, installation, and commissioning of climate restoration technologies with connectivity in all renewable sectors.
Powersystems are powering the UK to a green recovery, with 5 GW of installed green energy as they play their part helping to decarbonise the National Grid.
Working with partners, delivering sustainable power solutions, proudly the Powersystems high voltage specialist team have connected 27% of all U.K. onshore wind farms.
* This is based on Renewable UK and the following calculation Operational MW x 8760 (number of hours in a year) x 0.2782 (the capacity factor for both on & offshore wind) / 4192 (UK average domestic household consumption in kWh) and it should be noted that this is an estimate and not based on site specific data.