ITM Power’s state of the art hydrogen technology, prototype production facility in Sheffield set the scene for the Chancellor to witness cutting edge British innovation in South Yorkshire.
The facility is specifically designed to manufacture the core equipment necessary to enable renewable energy to be integrated into the energy system in the future. Here, ITM is engaged in the design and production of prototype electrolysers which take renewable energy and split water into oxygen and hydrogen: the hydrogen is then stored and can be used as a clean fuel in existing gas appliances. The Chancellor took particular note of the use of ITM’s electrolysers in three areas:
- Provision of an alternative clean fuel for ITM’s hydrogen/petrol bi-fuel car;
- A high pressure refuelling system being established at ITM’s Sheffield facility; and
- The development of the equipment necessary to make possible zero carbon housing, (a government requirement for new build houses from 2016).
The Chancellor acknowledged the role for hydrogen in the energy system and appreciated the opportunity presented by ITM’s technology to reduce the UK’s dependency on hydrocarbons and for energy security.
The Chancellor was especially pleased to see the research nurtured in South Yorkshire and its potential to become a provider of core components of the energy industry in the 21st Century, with significant economic benefits to the region.
Driving in ITM’s modified factory standard Ford Focus that runs on the clean green hydrogen fuel from an electrolyser, the Chancellor commented that it was “just like driving a normal car”. ITM estimate that if car manufacturers were to add the extra equipment to vehicles on their existing production lines so as to make them Hydrogen Ready (but without the hydrogen storage tank) so that when refuelling stations become available a tank could be retrofitted, then this would add £200 - £300 to the cost of the car. Until hydrogen became available, the car would use petrol, be refuelled and drive in a perfectly normal way. Society does not have to wait for the availability of fuel cell cars to enjoy driving with zero carbon emissions using hydrogen.
Dr Donald Highgate, ITM’s Director of Research, explained, “we are particularly pleased to welcome the Chancellor to our facility at this time, as we embark on a program of prototype demonstrations in the coming months to show how our electrolyser technology can be applied to meet the carbon-neutral challenges for society today”.
An electrolyser is a device that takes electricity when available, to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is an alternative clean chemical fuel, a store of energy that is compatible with and can be burnt in today’s engines with minor modification, for zero carbon emissions.
The Chancellor with ITM Power’s Director of Research Dr Donald Highgate
The Chancellor discussing the core technology with ITM Power’s Research and Development Manager Simon Bourne