Guestblogger: Maxine Akhurst, British Geological Survey, lead of UK case study, ELEGANCY
If Europe is to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets the CO2 from large-scale industrial processes and from the reformation of hydrogen from natural gas must not be released to the atmosphere but captured and permanently stored.
Acceleration of low-carbon heating in the UK will be informed by application of research findings from ELEGANCY investigations and by collaboration with a ‘sister’ project on low-carbon industrial growth.
ERA-Net ACT is supporting two large research projects to accelerate Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Technologies in Europe:
ELEGANCY (Enabling a low carbon economy via hydrogen and CCS) exploits the synergies between hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage;
ALIGN-CCUS (Accelerating Low Carbon Industrial Growth through Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) investigates implementation of CCUS for low-carbon growth at clusters of industrial sources.
Research performed in ELEGANCY drives reduction of CO2 emissions by use of hydrogen for heating and transport and provides a commercial model for industrial CCS. Hydrogen is a clean fuel which produces only water vapour when used to heat our homes and to power bus and car transport.
In the UK the H21 Leeds City Gate project has found it is technically and economically feasible to convert the gas supply of large UK cities to 100% hydrogen. Currently, large-scale production of hydrogen, suitable for homes in large cities and for industrial heating, requires reformation of hydrogen from natural gas which generates CO2.
ALIGN-CCUS investigates large-scale, cost-effective implementation of the capture, use and geological storage of CO2 at clusters of industrial sources that produce the materials, chemicals and electricity we use in our daily lives. In the UK, the industrial sources investigated by ALIGN-CCUS are at Teesside and Grangemouth.
The two large ERA-Net ACT projects are complementary as both consider processes that occur at large industrial sites. Currently, reformation of hydrogen mostly takes place where there are other large-scale industrial operations that emit CO2. Economies of scale can be achieved by sharing infrastructure for CO2 transport and geological storage. The cost for CO2 transport and storage can be reduced for each tonne of CO2 stored, whether from hydrogen as a clean future fuel or from low-carbon operation of industrial processes. Further emissions reduction can be achieved if the heat needed to drive industrial processes can be fired by hydrogen generated at that same industrial site.
Planning for low-carbon industrial growth should integrate both industrial processes and hydrogen for heating and transport.
UK organisations in both the ELEGANCY and ALIGN-CCUS projects, co-funded by BEIS and the EC, are collaborating to maximise benefit to implement a thriving low-carbon economy in the UK. ALIGN-CCUS will provide a ‘baseline’ of CO2 supply for permanent geological storage to reduce emissions for planned low-carbon industrial growth at Teesside and Grangemouth. The findings will also inform other large industrial sites in the UK. ELEGANCY will assess the ‘additional’ CO2 storage from large-scale reformation of hydrogen needed to supply domestic heating and cooking, heating needed for industrial processes, and to power transport where electrification is unsuitable. For example, conversion to hydrogen of municipal refuse collection vehicles, buses and, eventually, trains will improve the quality of the air in urban areas to reduce harm to people as well reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.
The two projects will take a consistent approach. The detailed UK investigations in each project, to inform the findings of H21 in ELEGANCY and to progress options for CO2 storage for industrial growth at Teesside and Grangemouth in ALIGN, will be complementary. The UK scenarios investigated in each project and so the findings from the research will be comparable.
Collaboration not only allows exchange of information between the projects but also a trans-national approach to benefit from learnings gained across the project consortia. The ELEGANCY business case for hydrogen and CCS in the UK will be informed by experience of ALIGN-CCUS industrial clusters in other nations. Similarly, information from conversion of industrial heating from natural gas to hydrogen in the UK by ELEGANCY will give a practical grounding to low-carbon industrial growth in ALIGN-CCUS.