Siemens Energy, lead contractor for the construction of National Grid’s Viking Link interconnector project in Lincolnshire, has installed a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell to provide off grid power to the project’s construction site for the first time.
Off grid power is necessary as this site won’t have a grid connection for at least six to eight months, and the fuel cell system will provide enough heat and power for the construction village during that time, removing the need for diesel generators.
The installation of the hydrogen fuelled critical power system took place in August and will provide 250kVA of standard three phase, 400V electrical power and up to 80kW of heating to around 20 cabins across the construction village.
The fuel cell system, piloted by Siemens got a further development boost by its partner, GeoPura, and now uses the waste heat, normally lost from the fuel cell’s cooling system.
The fuel cell system incorporates 216kWh of battery storage, used to smooth the peaks in power demand and improve the efficiency of the system.
The battery storage also means that the output of the system will not suffer if hydrogen supply stops.
The only by-product of using a fuel cell to generate power on-site from hydrogen is water, and in contrast to utilising diesel generators – the usual way of providing off grid power to construction sites – it will eliminate NOx and particulate emissions from the area.
Initially the hydrogen supplied for the fuel cell system will come from conventional hydrogen sources, but will move to green hydrogen, once a suitable supply has been confirmed.
According to Siemens, the project will need around seven tonnes of hydrogen.
By using green hydrogen, a tonne of CO2 will be saved each week, which is the equivalent of taking 20 cars off the road.
The fuel cell system is based on a single 20-feet shipping container which houses all the equipment needed to convert the hydrogen into electricity and heat.
The development of the fuel cell, since the demonstrator model, took place at Siemens Energy’s site in Newcastle by GeoPura.
The work, which took a year, means the new Mark 1 system is more compact and efficient and can supply hot water as well as electricity.
It uses Siemens Energy monitoring and control for critical power applications and is now available for manufacturing in Newcastle in greater quantity.
Three Siemens Energy apprentices also worked on the project and gained useful learning and development, with each tasked with mini projects which they managed themselves helping develop their skills and build confidence.
Steve Scrimshaw, VP, Siemens Energy UK&I, said:
“This is a great project and I’m delighted that we as Siemens Energy, with our partner GeoPura, have been able to walk the talk on how to build the hydrogen economy.
“In order to get the hydrogen economy moving we need to create a market, and it is small projects, such as this, which will increase the demand for green hydrogen, providing a pipeline of work for the supply chain.”
Andrew Cunningham, Managing Director of GeoPura, said: “This project shows that zero emission power generation has reached a point where it can viably replace off grid diesel generation and remove these health risks to the benefit of all.”
Mike Elmer, Viking Link project director for National Grid Ventures, said: “As we travel toward a cleaner net zero future, interconnectors play a huge part in ensuring zero carbon electricity gets to where it is needed most. We’re also constantly looking at how we can use greener solutions in the construction of interconnectors like Viking Link.
“The transformative engineering that is using emission-free hydrogen to provide heat and power to our site brings us another step closer to our 2050 net zero targets.”
The Viking Link
Viking Link project is a joint venture between National Grid Ventures, part of National Grid, and the Danish electricity system owner and operator, Energinet.
The 1.4 GW high voltage electricity interconnector will be the longest in the world when completed, stretching 765 kilometres subsea and onshore connecting from Bicker Fen in Lincolnshire, UK and Revsing in South Jutland, Denmark.
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