Use of hydrogen to mitigate intermittency in renewable generation in the UK

Project: Central government, health and local authorities

Project Details


BEIS (formerly DECC) and EPSRC provided £33k each towards the funding of a PhD studentship at the University of Bath.

Layman's description

The UK has vast renewable resources that could be used to decarbonise much of the electricity and heat demands but due to their intermittent nature it will be difficult to integrate large amounts into the energy system and ensure that they are utilised fully.

Energy storage can increase the utilisation of these renewable technologies but large-scale electricity storage is not currently practical. However, hydrogen may be a more viable solution because it can be stored by injecting it into the natural gas grid, where it will directly contribute to the decarbonisation of any demand for natural gas, e.g. heating and electricity generation. Salt caverns have the capacity to store the quantities of energy required for inter-seasonal storage, e.g. allowing solar energy in the summer to be used for heating in the winter.

The aim of this project is to identify options for the generation, storage and transportation of hydrogen to decarbonise energy provision in the UK by developing a mathematical model that will capture the spatial and temporal dependencies of the system. A number of themes will be examined but principally we will aim to consider the following:

1. How hydrogen can be used as a power storage mechanism in order to decarbonise the power system without the penalties of conventional back-up generation. We will look at examples of this being done in other countries and consider the experience of vendors developing electrolysers to identify the limits of the technology and especially its application to the UK grid. A mathematical model will be developed to determine if it is technically feasible and if so determine the scale of the engineering upgrades required.

2. The transition from the current energy system to any future system is very important. Therefore the multi-vector model that we will develop will include long-term investment and planning decisions to determine the most cost effective, environmentally-friendly transition to the future network while also determining what that network should be.

3. This approach also presents other opportunities for systems integration. For example, it would be ideal if the waste heat from the electrolyser and from the gas-to-power plants could be re-utilised in district heating systems and we will look at how the re-use of waste heat would affect the viability of the approach and allow a path to make this transition.
Short title£66000
Effective start/end date28/02/1728/08/20