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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L018284/1
Title: Hydrogen's value in the energy system (HYVE)
Principal Investigator: Ekins, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Papageorgiou, Professor L Coker, Dr P Harrison, Professor GP
Agnolucci, Dr P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Professor PE Dodds
Project Partners:
Air Products and Chemicals Department of Energy and Climate Change E4Tech Ltd
London Hydrogen Partnership Scotia Gas Networks (SGN) Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
Scottish Hydrogen &Fuel Cell Assoc SHFCA
Department: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2014 Ends: 30 November 2017 Value (£): 700,396
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Dec 2013 SUPERGEN Hydrogen Challenge (2013) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project will assess the potential value of hydrogen to the UK as part of a transition to a low carbon economy. It will assess the potential demand for and value of hydrogen in different markets across the energy system and will analyse the supply chain required to produce and deliver that hydrogen, including the supply of hydrogen from using electrolysers for load balancing in the UK electricity system with a high penetration of renewable electricity.

In the short-term, hydrogen electrolysers can support electricity system load balancing as the proportion of intermittent renewables increases. The Universities of Edinburgh and Reading have led efforts to characterise the UK wind power resource and to understand how new developments can be incorporated into the UK electricity system. This project will extend the models developed at these institutions to assess the indirect value of hydrogen in supporting a high penetration of renewable electricity by avoiding electricity network reinforcement. It will also link these models with the UK energy system model at UCL (UK TIMES) to assess the direct value of electrolysed hydrogen to companies, if the hydrogen is used in the gas network (power-to-gas), as an industrial feedstock, as a transport fuel or for large-scale storage as part of the electricity system. The models will identify the most appropriate locations for electrolysis deployment and the timescales on which they should be deployed.

In the medium-term, the most important use of hydrogen is likely to be in the transport sector. UCL has recently examined how a hydrogen supply chain might develop across the UK using a new spatially-explicit infrastructure planning model called SHIPMod. This project will add a number of new features to this model including hydrogen pipelines and finer temporal disaggregation to link with the electrolysis parts of the network models developed at Edinburgh. It will be used to assess the value of hydrogen supply infrastructure and will identify the optimum deployment of infrastructure across the UK.

In the longer term, hydrogen is a zero-carbon option to replace natural gas for heat generation. UCL have examined the potential for converting the natural gas networks to use hydrogen and to examine the long-term prospects for micro-CHP to replace boilers. This project will build on this research with the aims of: (i) assessing the value of hydrogen to the UK for heat provision; (ii) understanding the impact of hydrogen on the gas distribution networks; and, (iii) examining how using hydrogen for heat as well as transport would impact the development of a hydrogen supply infrastructure.

Hydrogen infrastructure represents a risky investment in the early stages of a transition because of the highly uncertain future uptake of hydrogen vehicles. It is important to factor the cost of this risk into the value of hydrogen. We will use a mixture of real options and stochastic programming analysis, using the UK TIMES energy system model and the SHIPMod infrastructure planning model, to account for and manage risk in different scenarios (including using hydrogen only for transport or using it for both transport and heat). Hence we will identify scenarios with lower investment risk and we will identify policies that will reduce these risks and facilitate the development of a hydrogen economy.

This project will build on existing research projects, including using models developed by the EPSRC H2FC Supergen Hub and the EPSRC Adaptation and Resilience in Energy Systems (ARIES) project. Funding for hydrogen research in the UK is currently almost exclusively focused on technology development and this project will fill an important gap in the funding landscape by taking a whole systems approach to understanding the potential role of hydrogen in future UK low-carbon energy system configurations.

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