Mar 1, 2021

Enegix Energy unveils Brazil green hydrogen project

Hydrogen
Brazil
investment
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Enegix Energy's Base One green hydrogen project in cooperation with the State Government of Ceará in Brazil marks an US$5.4 billion investment
Enegix Energy's Base One green hydrogen project in cooperation with the State Government of Ceará in Brazil marks an US$5.4 billion investment...

Australian renewable energy company Enegix Energy has unveiled the Base One green hydrogen project in cooperation with the State Government of Ceará in Brazil, marking an investment of US$5.4 billion. 

Under the terms of the recent MoU signed with the state governor Camilo Santana, Enegix will set up the world’s largest green hydrogen plant that will produce over 600 million kgs of green hydrogen per year from already contracted 3.4GW of combined baseload wind and solar power through a partnership with Enerwind. The project is expected to take 3-4 years to build.  

Base One will be established in the state of Ceará, northeast of Brazil and will provide a strategic location for Enegix’s renewable hydrogen production with direct access to all major international markets via ocean freight. 

A 500-hectare plot of commercial land has been scoped in the Port of Pecém, a world-class deepsea port with established infrastructure and access to the required quantities of water - to enable the electrolysis process to separate hydrogen and oxygen elements. 

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Enegix’s planned next-generation facility will be run completely using renewable energy with zero emissions and will harness the great renewable energy potential that Ceará has available with solar and onshore and offshore wind to be realised allowing Base One to be expanded to over 100GW to meet global demand. 

Wesley Cooke, Founder and CEO, said its partnership with the Ceará State Government will turn Ceará into a major hydrogen export location and establish Enegix as a global renewable power producer, aligning with its vision and strategy to replace expensive, high emission power grids with renewable, baseload, and cost-effective zero-carbon grids. 

"Through this partnership, we plan to create a new model of sustainable energy for the world’s fast-growing population while reducing dependency and cutting end-user costs on high carbon-emitting fuel sources like diesel," he said. 

Base One has the potential to reduce annual CO2e emissions by 10 million tons per year and would become "the single largest carbon emission reduction project in the world," according to a statement.

In other global developments: 

  • Portugal is targeting green hydrogen production by the end of 2022 and already has private investment worth around 10 billion euros ($12 billion) lined up for eight projects.
  • Mainstream Renewable Power and Norway’s Aker Clean Hydrogen are partnering on the production of green hydrogen and low cost ammonia in Chile. 
  • The H2 Green Steel industrial initiative, backed by EIT InnoEnergy and Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek, aims to build the world’s first large-scale steel production plant powered by green hydrogen, in north Sweden.
  • CMB, ITOCHU and Nippon Coke & Engineering Company are setting up a company focusing on local hydrogen production for consumption on the northern island of Kyushu, Japan. 
  • Plug Power and SK Group have announced the completion of $1.6 billion capital investment to partner in accelerating hydrogen as an alternative energy source in Asian markets.
  • Plug Power has also signed an MoU with Acciona to launch a 50-50 JV headquartered in Madrid.  
  • Italian utility Enel has agreed with Saras to develop a project to supply green hydrogen to the Italian refiner’s Sarroch site in Sardinia.

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Jul 28, 2021

Industry movement with heat decarbonisation

Gas
Renewables
Heatnetworks
Decarbonisation
Dominic Ellis
6 min
As SGN and Vital Energi announce 50:50 joint venture, the heat decarbonisation market is seeing some welcome movement

It is estimated that the heat network market requires approximately £30 billion of investment by 2050 to meet the UK Government’s net zero targets, and the decarbonisation of heat has been highlighted as a particular challenge.

The Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget states the UK should target 20% of UK heat demand through low-carbon heat networks by 2050 - but as with most discussions surrounding mass decarbonisation, even reaching that target won't be an easy task. In the UK approximately 40% of energy consumption and 20% of GHG emissions are due to the heating and hot water supply for buildings.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate that globally, around half of all energy consumption is used for providing heat, mainly for homes and industry.

Source: Heat Trust

This week saw some positive movement, however, with gas distribution company SGN and UK renewable energy solutions provider Vital Energi announcing a 50:50 joint venture, which will create an Energy Services Company (ESCO) representing utility infrastructure and heat network providers. 

This includes delivery of heat to developments planned by SGN’s property arm, SGN Place, and the local vicinities where there is a demand for low-carbon heat.

The objective is to supply new and existing residential, industrial and commercial facilities and development activity is already underway for two projects in Scotland and the South East, with another 20 in the pipeline. SGN is looking to develop alternative heat solutions alongside its core gas distribution business and expand into the growing district heating market, recognising the future of heat is likely to include a mix of technological solutions and energy sources.

Vital Energi is seeking to expand into asset ownership opportunities to complement its core design, build and operations businesses. The complementary skillsets of both organisations will offer a compelling proposition for developers, commercial and industrial users and public sector bodies seeking low-carbon heat solutions.

SGN’s Director of Commercial Services and Investments Marcus Hunt said: “Heat networks are likely to play an increasing role in the delivery of UK heat in the context of net zero. The creation of this joint venture with market-leading Vital Energi enables us to build a presence in this emerging market, delivering new heat infrastructure and supporting decarbonisation.”

Nick Gosling, Chief Strategy Officer at Vital Energi, said: “Combining the resources, expertise and know-how of both organisations will allow us to play a major role in delivering the UK’s transition to low and zero-carbon heat.”

In March, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) starting collaborating with Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) to decarbonise heat and power at Kirkwall Airport through green hydrogen technology. 2G Energy was selected to deliver a CHP plant which generates heat and electricity from 100% hydrogen.

Heat decarbonisation options 

The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) highlights the following options for decarbonising heating. 

Electrification

Use renewable electricity to generate heat in the home. As power sector emissions fall, emissions associated with electric heating are decreasing rapidly.

Low carbon gases

Replace natural gas that most homes use for heating with hydrogen, which releases energy but not carbon dioxide, the only waste product is water. Biomethane is also an option as it produces less carbon than natural gas over a full lifecycle.

For hydrogen to work, the pipes in the national gas grid would need to be replaced and home boilers would need to be adapted or changed. This is possible but could incur considerable cost. 

Biomethane is chemically identical to methane from natural gas, so is suited to existing infrastructure and appliances. It is unlikely, however, that it can be produced in sufficient quantities to replace fossil gas entirely.

Hybrids

A hybrid system combining both electrification and hydrogen is a third option. Here, heat pumps could be used to meet the majority of heat demand, with a (low carbon) gas boiler taking over in extremely cold weather. Advantages of this approach include helping establish a market for heat pumps while hydrogen is developed to displace natural gas in the hybrid system eventually, and the ability to call on hydrogen when heat demand is at its very highest.

Heat networks

Heat networks connect a central heat source to a number of buildings via a series of underground hot water pipes, and are popular in countries such as Denmark, where heat networks supply 63% of households. The Government expects the heat networks market in the UK to grow quickly to supply up to 20% of heat demand over the next decade or so, investing £320 million into its flagship Heat Networks Investment Project to help get this underway.

Heat networks work particularly well in built-up urban areas or industrial clusters where there is a large and concentrated demand for heat. Over time, it is thought that if the central heat source can be low carbon, then there is the opportunity to ensure that multiple homes and buildings are decarbonised at once.

Biomass

Biomass can be used to reduce emissions when used instead of more polluting fuels like oil in off gas grid properties. Support for biomass boilers has been available since 2011 via the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), but take-up has been low.

Supply constraints also restrict the role that biomass – burning solid material such as wood – can play. In any case, according to the Committee on Climate Change, this resource may be better used in other sectors of the economy such as construction, where it provides carbon storage without the need for CCS and reduces demand for carbon-intensive materials such as steel and cement.

The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC)'s latest report sets out how rapidly increasing demand for bioresources could outstrip sustainable supply, undermining climate mitigation efforts and harming biodiversity, unless alternative zero-carbon options are rapidly scaled-up and use of bioresources carefully prioritised.

"Alternative zero-carbon solutions, such as clean electrification or hydrogen, must be developed rapidly to lessen the need for bio-based solutions," it states.

The overall decarbonisation of industry is another major challenge, especially among four sectors that contribute 45 percent of CO2 emissions: cement, steel, ammonia, and ethylene, according to a McKinsey report. 

The process demands reimagining production processes from scratch and redesigning existing sites with costly rebuilds or retrofits. Furthermore, companies that adopt low-carbon production processes will see a short- to mid-term increase in cost, ultimately placing them at an economic disadvantage in a competitive global commodities market.

Next steps

Ken Hunnisett is Project Director for the Heat Network Investment Project (HNIP)’s delivery partner Triple Point, which is the delivery partner for the government's Heat Network Investment Project, which is responsible for investing up to £320million in strategic, low-carbon heat network projects across England and Wales.

He is calling for the urgent need to invest in the development of new heating infrastructure to support the nation’s decarbonisation effort. So far £165m of HNIP funds have prompted £421m CAPEX, providing more green jobs as the UK economy eases from the lows sustained from the pandemic.  

Decarbonising the UK's heating infrastructure is critical if we are to reach our net-zero goals and it’s crucial that progress is made in this decisive decade, he added. 

"Heat networks are a part of the lowest-cost pathway to decarbonising our homes and workplaces in the future but are also the bit of the jigsaw that we can be putting into place now," he said. "Penetration into the UK market is still low, despite heat representing 37% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, the largest single contributor by some way. Funding needs to be urgently directed towards reducing the environmental impact of the residential sector, particularly given the slow pace of the decline in residential emissions in comparison to those of business and transport."

Currently, just 3% of UK buildings are serviced by heat networks. "Further investment in this industry, using public and private funds, will not only drive wider sustainability targets but will boost the economy by providing more green jobs as the country emerges from the pandemic," he said.

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