Acorn, Cavendish agreement could boost UK blue hydrogen capacity to 11.5GW

Author: Jake Stones

2021/10/12

LONDON (ICIS)--The Acorn Project and Project Cavendish announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for captured carbon’s transportation and storage (T&S) on 12 October, supporting an additional 1.7GW of UK hydrogen capacity by 2030.

The Acorn Project, a key carbon capture and storage (CCS) project located at St Fergus, Scotland, offers T&S infrastructure for the Scottish Cluster, which aims to deliver CCS and hydrogen across Scotland.

Project Cavendish is planned to be located at the Isle of Grain, next to key UK energy infrastructure such as the 1GW UK-Netherlands BritNed power interconnector, Grain LNG, the Uniper Grain power station and SSE Thermal’s Medway station.

The MoU outlined that captured emissions from Project Cavendish blue hydrogen production could be transported by vessel to Peterhead in Scotland.

Provided sufficient T&S, Project Cavendish could provide large-scale blue hydrogen supply to key demand regions within the south of England.

PRODUCTION

The capacity of Project Cavendish is forecast to reach 700MW by 2027 and up to 1.75GW by 2030.

If that capacity comes online, ICIS data shows that UK blue hydrogen capacity could reach over 11GW by the end of the decade, well-above the government’s target of 5GW as announced in the country’s strategy.

At 1.75GW, Project Cavendish could produce around 17TWh/year of hydrogen, ICIS analysis shows.

Combined with other key projects, total output by 2030 could reach over 100TWh, around 2,700ktH2. The UK currently produces 27TWh/year of hydrogen, roughly 700ktH2/year.

Comparatively, output was forecast to reach just 42TWh according to the UK government’s Energy Whitepaper released in December 2020 and based on 5GW of capacity.

UK GOVERNMENT CLUSTER SEQUENCING

The Scottish Cluster is part of the UK government’s cluster sequencing programme, which aims to have two CCS projects online by the mid-2020s under its Track 1 projects.

If the Scottish Cluster doesn’t receive Track 1 funding then projects such as  Cavendish and the INEOS Grangemouth blue hydrogen capacity could be pushed back towards later in the decade as the CCS T&S is a key component to blue hydrogen production.

The UK government is expected to make its decision on Track 1 selection by October.

LNG

The plant is expected to be low-carbon hydrogen, which if generated via reformed natural gas could support LNG imports for Grain LNG as the UK decarbonises. Grain LNG annual capacity is 20 billion cubic metres (bcm), which is expected to rise to 25bcm/year by around 2025.

The terminal received 6bcm in 2019 and 5.2bcm in 2020. At full capacity, Project Cavendish natural gas demand could reach 20.3TWh/year, roughly 1.8bcm/year.

POTENTIAL POWER GENERATION

The Isle of Grain also boasts around 2GW of CCGT generation capacity across Uniper’s Grain Power Station (1,725MW) and SSE Thermal’s Medway Power Station (735MW).

Both Uniper and SSE Thermal are part of the Project Cavendish consortium.

When discussing the potential of using hydrogen for power generation, SSE Thermal told ICIS “SSE Thermal could be a key early customer for low-carbon hydrogen in the region, using the fuel to decarbonise its power generation at Medway while supporting the growth of the wider hydrogen economy in the South-East.”

SSE Thermal is also planning on building one of the UK’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power generation units, the 900MW Keadby Hydrogen plant.