Centrica Business Solutions is set to start injecting hydrogen into its existing gas peaking plant at Brigg, Lincolnshire, as part of a UK first trial with HiiROC aimed at better understanding the role of hydrogen in power production.
Centrica and HiiROC are one of 20 winners as part of the Net Zero Technology Centre’s £ 8 million Open Innovation Programme.
Ahead of the trial, Centrica has increased its stake in HiiROC to approximately 5%. In November last year, HiiROC announced a ~£28 million funding raise with new investors in partnership, including Melrose Industries, HydrogenOne, Centrica, CEMEX, Hyundai, and Kia, who joined existing strategic investors Wintershall Dea and VNG.
The 12-month trial will be partly funded by a grant from the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC), which has given 20 projects a total of £8m through its Open Innovation Programme. Each aims to develop technology that could reduce emissions offshore, accelerate clean energy production and enable the delivery of the UK’s net zero ambitions.
The 49MW gas-fired plant at Brigg is designed to meet demand during peak times or when generation from renewables is low, typically operating for less than three hours a day. Mixing hydrogen in with natural gas reduces the overall carbon intensity.
It’s anticipated that during the trial in Q3 2023, no more than three per cent of the gas mix could be hydrogen, increasing to 20% incrementally after the project. In the long term, the vision is to move towards 100% hydrogen and deploy similar technology across all gas-fired peaking plants.
HiiROC’s proprietary technology converts biomethane, flare gas or natural gas into clean hydrogen and carbon black through an innovative Thermal Plasma Electrolysis process. This results in low carbon, or potentially negative carbon, ‘emerald hydrogen’.
Greg McKenna, MD of Centrica Business Solutions, said, “Gas still plays a huge role in maintaining a secure, stable supply of power in the UK, with around 40 per cent of our power coming from natural gas.”
Alexander Stafford MP, Chair of the Hydrogen All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “This is the first time hydrogen will be used within a grid connected gas fired power plant in the UK, making this trial an important step forward towards realising the role hydrogen can play in decarbonising our energy system.”
Tim Davies, HiiROC’s CEO, said, “With the continued and crucial rollout of renewable energy generation, intermittency of power supply is a key issue, and the programme we are developing with Centrica will explore routes to address intermittency without generating CO2 emissions.”