On 12 January 2022 the UK government launched a new programme to help develop innovative technologies to produce hydrogen gas from sustainable biomass and waste.
This will, if it proves successful and commercially viable, give owners and investors in biomass and waste plants such as anaerobic digestion plants a 'net-zero' revenue stream as an alternative to biogas and biomethane.
Why is this needed?
The UK has legislated a 'net zero' emissions target by 2050. This means reducing emissions as much as possible. But emissions from 'hard to treat' sectors like industry, transport and heat currently can't be eliminated entirely, so development of new technologies is required to target these sectors. One such technology category is BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage), which the UK government wants to champion. BECCS is effectively carbon negative as it takes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it emits. This is because the plants it uses as feedstock absorb CO2 as they grow. They are then turned into hydrogen using one of several possible processes. Hydrogen only emits water vapour when burned, so is a clean fuel. Any carbon dioxide produced during the BECCS process is captured and stored, rather than being released back into the atmosphere.
What funding is available?
The Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme offers £5 million of funding, which is part of BEIS' £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. Each project can bid for between £50,000 and £250,000 in Phase 1 to help develop their project plans and demonstrate the feasibility of their proposed innovation.
The most promising projects from Phase 1 will then move to Phase 2 and get further funding to develop a prototype demonstration project.
What technologies can apply?
There are three categories of hydrogen BECCS technology solutions:
- Category 1: Feedstock pre-processing: the development of low cost, energy and material efficient technologies which will optimise biomass and waste feedstocks for use in advanced gasification technologies (such as pelletising, mechanical sorting, thermal treatments like torrefaction)
- Category 2: Gasification components: the development of Advanced Gasification Technology components focusing on improving syngas quality and upgrading for hydrogen generation
- Category 3: Novel biohydrogen technologies: the development of new biohydrogen technologies where the core conversion technology is not gasification, and which can be combined with carbon capture, for example dark fermentation, anaerobic digestion (AD), waste water treatment, Steam Methane Reforming of biogas from AD.
- 4 March 2022 (12 noon) - Applicants need to register to access the Phase 1 application form
- 11 March 2022 (12 noon) - Deadline to submit the Phase 1 application and declaration forms
- 29 April 2022 (subject to revision depending on the number of applicants) - Applicants informed of the outcome
- May 2022 (to commence 1 June 2022) - Contracts awarded
- November 2022 - Phase 2 applications open
To find out more, click here for full details.