Arup selected for east coast hydrogen project

20 April 2023 4 min. read
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As the UK ups its efforts to better exploit hydrogen in the push for net zero, a project to enhance its production has tapped consultants from Arup for help. The advisory firm will undertake an engineering study to prepare UK East Coast Hydrogen for more than a decade of work.

Hydrogen is a unique and versatile fuel perfect for a low carbon economy – only producing water vapour when it is combusted, making it a zero-emission fuel. The lack of carbon emissions makes it a core component of a cleaner energy future worldwide. However, the fuel source has historically faced problems of processing and distribution which have seen it take a back-seat in the renewable energy debate.

The UK East Coast Hydrogen (ECH) project is a joint initiative between gas network operators Cadent, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and National Grid Gas Transmission, looking to change that. The initiative aims at connecting 10GW of hydrogen production to the gas network in the North-East of England, and support the government’s 2050 net zero plans.

Arup selected for east coast hydrogen project

To help the project get off to the best possible start, NGN has awarded a contract to Arupto undertake a pre-front-end engineering design (FEED) study. The contract will see Arupfocusing on areas within the ECH’s network including Teesside and the Humber, forming part of Phase 1 for a 15-year programme of works ECH will eventually undertake.

Arup UKIMEA Energy Skills Leader, Steve Saunders, commented, “Hydrogen will have a key role to play in decarbonising industry and Arup’s recent contribution to the Humber Industrial Cluster Plan and Teesside Hydrogen Vision demonstrate the environmental, economic and social potential in the Northeast of England. This study will consider many of the projects already identified through these regional strategies that are key for both importation, production and storage of hydrogen.”

The pre-FEED study is due to be completed this summer, before the rest of Phase 1 will run until 2026. This includes the FEED study and development of East Coast Cluster Infrastructure, which will involve data mining and information gathering, as well as the development of a modelling brief to confirm how many options should be modelled and to what level of detail for the next phase of the study – modelled in collaboration with NGN.

Arup has said that when the preferred options have been identified, the next phase of its study will be to develop the design with enough information to complete a FEED study. The consultancy also confirmed that an assessment of the general and specific projectchallenges of ECH’s early phases will be compiled separately.

NGN’s Senior Project Manager for Hydrogen, Chris Verity, added, “ECH will be key to enabling the hydrogen economy to grow from the initial Teesside and Humber clusters and bring a viable option for achieving net zero to the whole of the NGN network area.”

Arup has a long history of supporting projects in the development of hydrogen. In 2016, Arup and ITM Power announced a Memorandum of Understanding, through which they would supply each other with expertise and capabilities, to improve the hydrogen energy systems and the refuelling stations network in the UK. Three years later, the firm was also engaged by the RSSB, to produce a report charting the course for bringing hydro-rail to the UK’s mainline.