New hub to lay foundations for Aberdeen’s future hydrogen investment
A Hydrogen Hub based in Aberdeen which will capitalise on the city’s leading role in developing it as an alternative for transport fuels has been agreed by the local authority.
The Hydrogen Hub is intended to lay the foundations for substantial growth and future investment, unlocking the potential of the region to weave a strong, sustainable hydrogen-based thread into the long-term energy transition now being embarked on.
A raft of recommendations approved at Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee yesterday means the project sets the direction for future developments and initiatives for hydrogen as an alternative for transport fuels while at the same time using Aberdeen’s expertise in innovation as the energy capital of Europe.
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub will help the city achieve its ambitions for net zero and as part of the Strategic Infrastructure Plan - Energy Transition (SIP) which outlines infrastructure projects which will contribute to the energy transition from fossil based to net carbon zero public sector, net carbon zero city, and ultimately a climate positive city over the next few decades.
The committee members approved for council officers to undertake a procurement exercise and award for the commission of works to adapt existing hydrogen refuelling facilities to receive hydrogen from an external supply, and to identify the optimum investment and delivery model for the production, storage and distribution of renewable hydrogen for Aberdeen, and report back to committee with the results.
It also approved that council officers undertake procurement exercises for external consultancy and technical advice to determine the optimum investment and delivery model and for feasibility studies into future applications of fuel produced by the Hydrogen Hub.
The committee further approved the expenditure to purchase 10 hydrogen fuel cell buses through the FCH JU JIVE project, to undertake a procurement exercise and award a tender to establish Joint Hydrogen Vehicle Procurement Frameworks working with other north-east authorities and public sector bodies.
Aberdeen City Council city growth and resources convener, Councillor Douglas Lumsden, said: “I’m delighted to see the progress in the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub project as it will help to deliver long-term growth in the green energy sector for the city and wider region.
“We have been a frontrunner in developing hydrogen as a fuel that can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels including the world’s first hydrogen double decker which arrived in the city earlier this month.
“The new developments for the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub will ensure the city remains as a leader in new and innovative technologies while at the same time striving to achieve net zero and be a climate positive place to live, work and visit.”
The report to committee said up to £15 million of funding to support the delivery of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub Phase One outputs has been applied for from the Scottish Government’s Energy Transition Fund.
The long-term vision and aspiration for the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub is to deliver a commercial scale, green hydrogen production, storage, and distribution hub in the Aberdeen City Region. It would deploy electrolysis powered from an appropriate renewable energy source.
The report to committee said there are several potential sites for both the production hub and the energy source and initial discussions have commenced with multiple operators as to the most commercially and technically advantageous model to establish a production hub.
To develop these further, council officers will undertake an options appraisal to determine the best commercial model for the council which will consider the role of the council in relation to hydrogen production, distribution, and refuelling infrastructure. Options could include opportunities for council investment, either directly or through a joint venture with a commercial partner or by the establishment of special purpose vehicle.
The Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub is a key project in the ‘Strategic Infrastructure Plan – Energy Transition’ and is designed to put Aberdeen at the forefront of a developing hydrogen economy and to maintain the region’s profile and credentials as a centre of excellence for hydrogen deployment.
It aims to deliver a large-scale hydrogen production facility from renewable energy to decarbonise transport, heat, and industrial sectors.
The report to committee said not only does the hydrogen hub, and its subsequent phases, have the potential to provide a significant contribution to UK Government and Scottish Government Climate Change targets, it aligns with the UK Government’s announcement of a Hydrogen Transport Programme, the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government and the imminent Hydrogen Policy Statement and action plan.
A study of an Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub was written to address the economic and commercial case for investment in commercial scale, and renewable green hydrogen for use in the transport, heat and industrial sectors. The work identified there was growing demand for hydrogen in Aberdeen, particularly the new fuel cell buses being introduced under the European ‘Joint Initiative for Vehicle Expansion’ (JIVE) project, and this requires expanded production and distribution infrastructure of renewables-based fuel that can be sold to users at a price that may also facilitate further demand growth.
The study found the Hub programme has the potential to catalyse growth in the use of renewable hydrogen across the transport sector (early opportunities include buses, council vehicles and commercial vehicles), and lay the foundations for penetration of this zero-carbon fuel in other applications such as domestic/commercial heat and industry. Delivering the Hub programme is thus a stepping-stone to wider use of hydrogen, which in turn will accelerate the transition to a Net Zero economy in both Aberdeen and across the wider region.
Hydrogen can facilitate more efficient utilisation of renewable electricity generators, especially offshore wind, and is expected to play a role in meeting long-term emission reduction targets in many countries around the world.
Officers have assessed a schedule of phased investments required to meet the objectives of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub and include hydrogen demand, distribution infrastructure, and green hydrogen production, the report said.