Essex chemicals plant to install country’s largest hydrogen fuel cell
A chemicals plant in Essex has announced that it plans to install the UK’s largest hydrogen fuel cell for the generation of clean electricity.
The fuel-cell system, provided by AFC Energy, will use hydrogen, produced as a waste by-product in the manufacture of chlorine and caustic soda at the factory, to generate enough clean electrical power to power as many as 500 homes.
The process will enable Industrial Chemicals Limited (ICL), the owner of the chlor-alkali plant, to not only reduce its dependence on the electricity grid, but also make use of the hydrogen that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.
In a statement, AFC Energy, who will own, operate and maintain the fuel cell systems, said that the system is not only the largest fuel cell system announced for installation in the UK to date, but it is believed that it will become the largest alkaline fuel cell system in operation anywhere in the world.
AFC Energy will supply the fuel-cell systems to ICL in stages under an ESCO (Energy Supply Company) model whereby ICL will provide its hydrogen and purchase power under long-term contracts.
“We are very pleased to be working with ICL in this ground breaking commercial-scale development, which will put British fuel cell technology and innovation on a global stage,” said ICL Chief Executive Officer, Ian Williamson.
“This clean energy opportunity would enable a European technology to demonstrate cost effectiveness compared with other forms of power generation.”
AFC Energy and ICL plan to start initial work on an AFC's Beta Plus System later this year and on the full-scale system after securing project finance. The two companies will “seek funding from the appropriate agencies and bodies to accelerate the planned installation” of the large-scale fuel cell system.
The project is expected to create a significant number of UK jobs in the long term, while the stationary fuel cell industry is forecast to create 500,000 global jobs in the next ten years.