New research published by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) says that renewable hydrogen produced by Britain’s world-leading wind farm fleet and stored in abandoned oil and gas fields can help avoid future winter energy supply shortages.
Wind and solar farms in the United Kingdom will have enough spare electricity generated in the spring and summer when demand is lower to produce enough green hydrogen to replace 25 Hinkley Point C nuclear power plants, according to “A System For All Seasons,” an analysis of the country’s electricity generation and consumption trends.
When energy demand is at its highest in the fall and winter, the hydrogen stored would provide enough energy for every UK resident to charge a Tesla Model S electric vehicle more than 21 times. This would create a clean energy buffer, eliminating the need to manage limited energy supplies on the international market.
To make matters worse, the study also reveals that Britain possesses sufficient hydrogen storage capacity to meet the country’s needs in salt caverns in the North Sea and abandoned oil and gas sites elsewhere.
Using renewable hydrogen will help reduce the number of wind farms needed by more than 75% by 2050, according to the study, because it will ensure that the electricity generated by the UK’s wind farms is used efficiently, by preventing surplus electricity from going to waste (source).
‘A System For All Seasons’ finds that:
- Britain’s wind and solar farms could generate between 60-80GW of renewable hydrogen – the equivalent capacity of 25 Hinkley Point C nuclear power plants – from spare renewable electricity generated in the spring and summer months, between May and October each year.
- Running the energy system this way will reduce the need for the total electricity generating capacity of UK wind farms from 500-600GW by 2050 down to 140-190GW – a reduction of up to 76%.
- It would mean Great Britain would be using spare renewable electricity that would otherwise go to waste to produce green hydrogen. Under the alternative scenario, additional wind farms would need to be built to accommodate for autumn and wind energy demand peaks but be left unused during other times of the year.
- With 140-190GW of wind generation capacity, 115 to 140TWh of green hydrogen would be stored – enough energy for every person in the UK to charge a Tesla Model S more than 21 times.
- The potential storage volume from Britain’s salt fields ranges from >1TWh up to 30TWh. For disused oil and gas fields, the potential storage volume for individual sites ranges from ~1TWh up to 330TWh.
Commenting, Chris Train OBE, ENA Green Gas Champion, says: “This research shows how green hydrogen can provide a clean energy bumper that can protect us from fluctuations on the international energy markets, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – whatever the weather, come rain or sunshine. It will also allow us to get the most out of the energy infrastructure that is at the forefront of our renewable revolution, whilst ensuring that we have a net zero energy system that is truly a System For All Seasons.”