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Building the future with green hydrogen

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Matthew Knight is the Head of Market Development at Siemens Energy, with more than 30 years’ experience in the energy market. He is also on the Government’s Carbon Capture and Storage Taskforce and Hydrogen Expert Group, engaging with Government as an industry representative to help shape sector regulations and support. He will be exploring the future of green hydrogen with a panel of experts from the industry during RenewableUK’s next Future Systems webinar on Tuesday 04 May at 10am. Here he shares some initial thoughts on the topic:

Matthew Knight, Siemens Energy

Hydrogen is only worth doing if we do it at scale. We don’t have time to mess around with something that won’t make a tangible contribution to saving the planet. To achieve this, we need the cost of hydrogen production, storage, and transport to substantially reduce – it needs to halve in price by 2030.

Our current Siemens Energy electrolysers use 17.5MW of electricity to make eight tonnes of hydrogen per day, but we need to be working towards 50MW in the next two to three years and 100MW in the next five. This would help the industry fulfil its green promises and would need to be followed by consistent deployment of gigawatts in the UK each year throughout the next two decades to play its part in delivering net zero by 2050.

Siemens Silyzer300 electrolyser installed at the Voest Alpine steel plant in Austria

We are also developing the capability of our gas turbines to run on hydrogen. Consider the HYFLEXPOWER project, which uses one of the engines we build in Lincoln. As the world’s first integrated power-to-X-to-power hydrogen gas turbine demonstrator it will run on 100% hydrogen by 2023 – this is the very cutting-edge of the industry. I hope many more world firsts will happen in the UK within our industrial clusters as we create and develop a new industry to decarbonise our planet.

SGT-400 gas turbine

I believe in leading by doing and have personally been involved in some interesting projects which have produced world firsts themselves, albeit on a fairly small scale. I am proud of colleagues who worked with Andrew Cunningham and GeoPura to create a unit that powered a BBC Studios Winterwatch outside broadcast in Bristol, entirely with green hydrogen – as far as we know, it was the first time live TV has ever been powered by renewable energy around the globe. We’re also using the Hydrogen Power Unit to provide power to one of our construction sites, which has completely removed the need for diesel generators!

BBC Studios Winterwatch
BBC Studios Winterwatch powered by green hydrogen

This uncovered a new demand for clean, off-grid energy, among private and public service providers. We originally developed the hydrogen power unit as a green hydrogen solution for electric vehicle charging stations for car park owners and operators, enabling their customers to power up in a cleaner way. This is still on a small scale, but it is about showing what is possible, demonstrating a successful business model and, hopefully, inspiring those with larger capacity and investment to take things to the next level.

Although there is still a long way to go for the green hydrogen industry, we are already seeing interest from a broad range of industries. These include distilleries and breweries, the food and beverage industry, and leisure and tourism. For the market to rapidly expand and fulfil its potential, we need the Government to help create the market. That will be a key part of the Government’s hydrogen strategy expected later this year.

I would like to see Government support early projects of 10MW scale or more that could go ahead next year and the year after. The whole industry can learn from these early projects and we can start to grow a UK supply chain.

At Siemens Energy, we know that our future lies in hydrogen. Our purpose is to energise society and our job is to support customers with their energy transition to a more sustainable future. Green hydrogen might only be one element, but it is an important one. The time is right for renewable hydrogen and we need to grow the industry fast if we are to make a difference for our planet.



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