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Whitelee Hydrogen Project

Volume 704: debated on Monday 22 November 2021

I wish to update the House: today my Department has announced funding of £9.4 million for a first-of-a-kind new hydrogen project at the Whitelee onshore windfarm—the UK’s largest—in Glasgow.

The project will look to produce hydrogen for storing energy and providing zero-carbon fuel as the country shifts to a clean energy future, and support Glasgow’s ambition to become net zero by 2030.

Developed by ITM Power and BOC, in conjunction with ScottishPower’s hydrogen division, the state-of-the-art facility will be able to produce enough green hydrogen per day—2.5 tonnes to 4 tonnes—which, once stored, could provide the equivalent of enough zero carbon fuel for 225 buses travelling to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh each day. A 10MW electrolyser, to be developed and manufactured at ITM Power’s Sheffield factory, will be co-located at the Whitelee windfarm. The electrolyser is expected to be the largest deployed to date.

This project is subject to planning permission, and final investment decisions from the organisations involved, expected by summer 2022 with start of construction.

In addition, my Department is also supporting the development of hydrogen skills and standards for heating, with an additional £2.25 million in new Government funding. This funding, under the net zero innovation portfolio, will see the British Standards Institution (BSI) develop technical standards, and a consortium comprising Energy and Utility Skills and the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers will establish new standards and training specifications to facilitate the training of hydrogen gas installers.

As part of the UK Government’s plans to decarbonise the UK’s power system by 2035, they are accelerating the transition to clean, renewable energy—however, the unpredictable nature of renewables like wind power means that energy can be produced when it is not needed by the grid. Hydrogen energy can be stored for long periods of time and in large quantities, making it a vital part of the green energy future, as it provides the opportunity to convert excess renewable energy into a fuel for use across the economy. This means that hydrogen storage will play a key role in the shift towards a fully decarbonised energy system, which is crucial to the UK reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.