The GeoPura Hydrogen Power Unit (HPU), that uses fuel cell technology to convert green hydrogen into zero-emission, critically backed AC electricity, has been utilised during a maintenance outage at Uniper’s Cottam Development Centre (CDC) natural gas plant in Nottinghamshire. Displacing traditional diesel generators, it has saved 94 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the three- month outage. This is approximately the same amount of CO2 produced by a car that has driven around the world seventeen times.
Commissioned by power station owner Uniper, and utilised by main contractor Siemens Energy during the recent maintenance works, the 250kW HPU has been used to power the outage village, including welfare facilities and EV charging for all electric vehicles on site.
Cottam Development Centre is the first Uniper power station maintenance outage to be powered by green hydrogen in this way. The high efficiency, 445MW natural gas power plant undergoes routine maintenance outages every 4-5 years, which requires a secure backup power supply when disconnected from the main power grid.
The HPU is fuelled using green hydrogen, which is produced locally by GeoPura using renewable energy from a biomass facility approximately eight miles away. This is an efficient example of how new zero-emission technology can be used to minimise the environmental impact of shutdown operations.
The HPU provides zero emission electricity for off grid, temporary and backup power applications, not only reducing carbon emissions when compared with a diesel generator, but also eliminating other harmful NOx and particulate emissions that have an impact on air quality. The only exhausts being heat and water that can be redirected for use on site elsewhere, the HPU also runs significantly quieter than traditional generators, improving the working environment for contractors on site.
Tom Kavanagh, Uniper Plant Manager, Cottam Development Centre and Killingholme, said: “Uniper has committed to an ambitious target to make its European power generation fleet carbon-neutral by 2035, and reducing Scope 3 indirect carbon emissions by 35% by 2035, compared to the base year 2021*. To achieve this, we are committed to finding solutions to delivering this goal across all operations, and CDC are pleased to be able to play our part during the power station maintenance outage.
“Temporary power requirements during outages are often reliant on diesel generators, but having a GeoPura HPU fuelled by green hydrogen, has enabled us to significantly reduce the emissions associated with the maintenance works, contributing to our 2035 objective.
“The use and reliability of the GeoPura HPU for the first time ever during a Uniper power station outage has been very positive. The support provided by GeoPura on the installation, operation and fuelling of the system made switching to this new technology at our CDC plant, seamless for us. And Uniper will share the lessons learned from using this technology across our fleet of UK power stations.”
Already familiar with the HPU technology, Siemens Energy who is working in collaboration with GeoPura to scale up the production of the units and accelerate their deployment, identified the sustainability benefits the unit would bring to the project and recommended its use during the works.
Darren Davidson, Managing Director of Siemens Energy Gas Services UK, added: “Initially the HPU was primarily being used to power the contactor cabins and provide EV charging, however once established and the technology was proven to be reliable on site, its use was extended to replace an additional two diesel generators. Due to increased flexibility the system offers, the HPU was more than capable of supporting this additional load and provided even greater savings than originally planned.
“As the largest contractor for the outage, Siemens Energy is committed to delivering the upgrades in a sustainable way and this latest installation continues to demonstrate the versatility of the GeoPura HPU, which has huge potential to provide an alternative, emissions free option for our temporary energy needs.”
Andrew Cunningham, CEO of GeoPura, commented: “This is another example of how hydrogen is being used across multiple industries to reduce emissions, improve air quality and provide reliable, critically backed power displacing high CO2-emitting diesel generators.
“Reaching net zero in the UK is going to need all parts of the economy to play their part, including energy companies such as Uniper and by powering a major outage such as this, we continue to demonstrate the powerful role hydrogen can play in reaching this goal. I congratulate Uniper and the team at CDC for taking this first step, and look forward to the possibility of working together on future deployments as our units become mainstream practice in the field.”
A GeoPura HPU is built on industrial hydrogen fuel cells, and provides 250kW electrical output, 80kW thermal power and 216kWh battery storage. Packaged within a standard 20ft shipping container, a GeoPura HPU and a supply of hydrogen can be delivered to almost any location, providing easy access to emissions free electricity. GeoPura currently produces hydrogen using renewable electricity at a site in Low Marnham, augmenting its own production with green hydrogen from other suppliers to keep up with increasing demand.The GeoPura unit has already displaced diesel generators used in construction, provided power for off-grid events, festivals and TV production, as well as supplying ultra clean, large scale rapid vehicle charging. The ongoing development of hydrogen fuel cell systems is being undertaken in collaboration with Siemens Energy at the Heaton Works site in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
*Uniper publishes Sustainability Report 2021 and sets itself new sustainability targets