Ballylumford Power-to-X Project to accelerate the commercialisation of first-of-a-kind longer duration energy storage

Source: press release, 24 February 2022

Regulator Building at Mutual Energy’s Ballylumford site
Regulator Building at Mutual Energy’s Ballylumford site (photo: Mutual Energy)

B9 Energy, Mutual Energy, Islandmagee Energy Ltd and the Net Zero Technology Centre have announced that they have formed a collaboration partnership to deliver phase one of the Power-to-X Project as part of the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Longer Duration Energy Storage (LODES) Demonstration innovation competition.

BEIS has awarded GBP 986,000 to the 12-month Power-to-X Project, located in Ballylumford, Northern Ireland. Supporting the UK’s first ever Hydrogen Strategy this project will drive forward the commitments laid out in the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution which includes the ambition to deliver 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.

Phase one of the Power-to-X Project will see the delivery of a front-end engineering design (FEED) to demonstrate the concept of innovative, first-of-a-kind, longer duration (≥ 4 hours) energy storage technologies which can be deployed at scale, and where green hydrogen from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar will be stored in underground salt caverns for later use as carbon free fuel in both the transport and power generation sectors.

Ultimately the Ballylumford Power-to-X Project seeks to create a full-cycle hydrogen economy, from production, storage and distribution to usage at the site. The FEED study will establish a set of requirements to improve the security and reliability of the United Kingdom and Ireland’s power system through curtailment management and the provision of a range of system services from net-zero compliant technologies, including electrolysers, used to produce green hydrogen from surplus renewable generation, and a hydrogen-fired gas turbine.

The Ballylumford site has unique significance, combining strong connection to the gas and electricity transmission networks, interconnection with Scotland through the SNIP and Moyle pipeline and cables respectively.

The project will provide invaluable knowledge and open opportunities – allowing the generation of real-world data and practical experience in developing a high pressure 100% hydrogen network and building an understanding of the associated legislative and regulatory framework surrounding such networks. This will be critical both to delivering the crucially important energy transition for Northern Ireland and maintaining a robust security of energy supply in the future.

David Surplus, Managing Director, B9 Energy comments, “The award of this government funding from BEIS marks a pivotal moment in B9’s 9-year quest to define and develop a GW scale energy storage project that will allow offshore wind farms to be connected to the Northern Ireland electricity network without the attendant risk of life-long business interruption caused by curtailment.”

Paddy Larkin, Chief Executive, Mutual Energy says, “Our overall purpose at Mutual Energy is to deliver energy infrastructure in the long-term interest of Northern Ireland energy consumers and we are therefore delighted to support the Ballylumford Power to X Project. It represents an innovative collaboration with the potential to bring significant energy security benefits to Northern Ireland consumers and support the necessary energy transition as we strive for net zero.”

“Given our many years’ experience of managing critical infrastructure, we are ideally placed to develop the hydrogen network which will link the constituent elements of the project together and we are excited to work closely with other experts in the field on this pilot project feasibility study. Going forward and based on current technology there is no doubt that hydrogen will be essential to meet Northern Ireland’s net-zero targets, particularly beyond 2030. The intervening time must be used to plan, develop, test, and build the necessary infrastructure,” Larkin continues.

Vinay Mulgundmath, Chief Technologist, Net Zero Technology Centre, comments, “The Ballylumford Power-to-X Project offers a significant opportunity to demonstrate the concept of longer duration energy storage technologies that will be key to developing a resilient energy supply chain whilst reducing carbon emissions, positioning the UK at the forefront of net-zero objectives.”

Greg Hands, Energy & Climate Change Minister adds, “Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy. It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.”