Hydrogen fuel cell trains planned for British Railways from 2022

Hydrogen fuel cell train Alstom Eversholt 
The 'Breeze' hydrogen fuel cell train could run on Britain's rail network within three years

French rail multinational Alstom and UK rolling stock operating company (ROSCO) Eversholt Rail Group have today unveiled the design for a new hydrogen fuel cell train for the UK market. Based on the tried-and-tested British Rail Class 321, the fuel cell trains – nicknamed ‘Breeze’ – will bring zero-emission hydrogen tech to parts of the UK that still run on diesel.

“Hydrogen train technology is an exciting innovation which has the potential to transform our railway, making journeys cleaner and greener by cutting CO2 emissions even further. We are working with industry to establish how hydrogen trains can play an important part in the future, delivering better services on rural and inter-urban routes,” said Andrew Jones MP, UK Rail Minister.

By converting the electrical multiple units (EMUs) to what Alstom describes as a hydrogen multiple unit (HMU), the Paris based firm will combine the efficiency and practicality of the existing rolling stock with the versatility and environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cells.

The  work is expected to take place over the next three years at Alstom’s Widnes facility, with the first trains projected to run as early as 2022.
Hydrogen fuel cell trains Alstom 
The hydrogen multiple units will be able to replace diesel trains on some routes, drastically reducing the environmental impact of rail travel 

“The Breeze will be a clean new train for the UK with a stylish, modern look,” said Nick Crossfield, Alstom UK & Ireland Managing Director.

“In Germany, Alstom’s hydrogen trains are already transporting passengers in the comfort and quiet that is characteristic of these trains. The Breeze offers British rail users the opportunity to share in the pleasure that is a journey on a hydrogen train.”

The trains will be converted by Alstom and then owned by Eversholt, which will then lease them to rail operators. They are unlikely to be of much use on networks with widespread electrification (such as those found in the South East of England) but in areas without third rails or overhead lines, extensively the case in SCotland, the HMUs will deliver much-needed zero-emission mobility provided that the source of power to make the hydrogen fuel also comes from renewable sources and again Scotland is well endowed with such power sources. Scotland has been self sufficient in renewable energy now for a few years and the increasing pace of development in efficient, sustainable power projects such as the Inverurie Energy Park under development by Agile Energy  is adding to Scotland's renewable and sustainable powerhouse.

Hydrogen fuel cell trains rail 
Hydrogen fuel cell trains are already in passenger use in Germany 

“Eversholt Rail has an enviable record of innovation across its rolling stock portfolio,”  Said Eversholt Rail Client Relations Director Stephen Timothy.

“Combining the experience gained from the successful Coradia iLint and Class 321 Renatus programmes will deliver a hydrogen-powered multiple unit product that will meet sponsors’ and train operators’ aspirations for the earliest possible fleet introduction.”

“Transport in the UK has evolved over centuries from the world’s first steam train to the tens of thousands of electric vehicles on our roads today thanks to our nation of innovators,”  said Claire Perry MP, UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth.

“This new hydrogen powered train, which will only emit water, is further proof of the UK’s continued creativity to transform the way we travel as we continue to move to a greener, cleaner economy. The UK is on track when it comes to growing a world-leading hydrogen economy, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are providing £23 million to power our ambition to be the ‘go-to’ place for first-class hydrogen transport.”

Covanta & Partners Reach Financial Close on 21 MW Scottish Waste to Energy Plant

Covanta Holding Corporation has achieved financial close on the Earls Gate Energy Centre with strategic development partner Green Investment Group.

Image ©

Covanta and GIG will each hold a 25% equity ownership in the project, with co-investor and developer Brockwell Energy owning the remaining 50% stake.

"With today's announcement we mark our entry into the UK market alongside GIG, following on the heels of our very successful partnership on the Dublin project earlier this year," said Covanta's President and Chief Executive Officer, Stephen J. Jones.

According to Covanta, the combined heat and power facility located in Grangemouth, Scotland, Earls Gate is a well-structured project with long-term waste and energy contracts.

Each year, the facility will prevent approximately 216,000 tonnes of mixed household, commercial and industrial waste that cannot be recycled from entering landfills. Instead, the waste will be used as fuel to generate low-carbon heat and power that will be supplied to a co-located industrial site host.

Construction of the facility will be led by Constructions Industrielles de la Mediterranee (CNIM), which Covanta said has deep experience in energy from waste construction, primarily in Europe and the UK, and is expected to take approximately 36 months to complete.

CNIM will also provide operations and maintenance services when the project commences operations in late 2021. Covanta will provide technical oversight services during construction and operations.

Chemical manufacturer and site service provider, CalaChem, has entered into a long-term Energy Supply Agreement (ESA) for the offtake of electricity and steam produced by EGEC. The steam will be used in the manufacturing processes of CalaChem and others on site.

The ESA is expected to decarbonise CalaChem’s annual energy consumption by approximately 39kt CO2e per year – the equivalent of taking approximately 17,000 cars off the road for a year. The remaining electricity will be exported to the grid.

Earls Gate Project and Covanta Investment Details

  • 216,000 metric tonnes per year of waste processing capacity
  • 21.5 megawatt equivalent generation capacity
  • 75% of the waste secured under long-term agreements
  • 100% of electricity and steam output under a long-term agreement with industrial site host
  • Total project cost of £210 million with approximately 70% financed through non-recourse project-based debt

"Earls Gate is the first of four advanced development projects in the UK to reach financial close, with the Rookery South, Protos and Newhurst projects lined up close behind,” said Jones.

“We are very pleased with our partnership with GIG and expect it to continue to add meaningful value as we bring additional projects to market. Our expectation remains that these UK projects alone will provide $40 to $50 million in incremental annual free cash flow to Covanta when they are all fully operational," concluded the CEO.

New Payment Scheme to Replace FIT's

'New era' for UK solar, as government U-turn promises payments for exported renewable power

The new Smart Export Guarantee would ensure households and businesses are paid for any solar power fed back to the grid

Claire Perry unveils plans for a Smart Export Guarantee designed to ensure households and businesses are paid for the power they export to the grid

The government has today responded to fierce criticism of its plans to axe support for solar installations in a way that would have effectively required to households and businesses to provide power to the grid for free, unveiling proposals for a new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) to ensure small scale generators can sell any excess power.

Speaking in the House of Commons this morning, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced the launch of a new consultation on proposals to create a new market for the sale of power from new small scale renewables installations such as rooftop solar panels, following the imminent closure of the feed-in tariff incentive scheme.

The new scheme could also generate benefits for the energy system as a whole, she added, arguing it should "reduce strain on energy networks with a more decentralised and smarter local network delivering resilience much more cost effectively, unlocking innovative products for electric vehicles and home energy storage".

She hailed the proposed scheme as "a win-win for consumers and the environment and a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy".

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the SEG scheme would encourage suppliers to competitively bid for electricity generated by onsite renewables, giving exporters the best market price for any excess power they provide to the grid.

The government said the new scheme would prove more cost effective than the current FiT approach, whereby households and businesses which install small scale electricity generation are assumed to export 50 per cent of the electricity they produce and are paid for it - even when the electricity is not needed by the grid or they export less than 50 per cent.

The new scheme would instead make use of smart meter technology to ascertain how much power any installation is providing to the grid, allowing households and businesses to sell it at market prices. The approach could also open the door to wider use of energy storage systems and smart grid technologies, which could allow households and businesses to provide power back to the grid during periods of peak demand when prices for exported power will be highest.

The consultation is now scheduled to run until March 5.

James Court, director of policy and external affairs at the Renewable Energy Association, said the proposals had the potential to "usher in a new era for small-scale renewables and offer a subsidy free means for homeowners and businesses to generate their own low-cost, low-carbon electricity".

"It was clear that no-one should be asked to give away electricity for free, and we strongly advocated for a market based solution and are pleased this approach has been adopted," he said. "Whilst the details around the transition from the former subsidy scheme will be important, this signal of support for the sector from government will help our members continue to provide smarter, cleaner and cheaper electricity in the decade to come."

The new consultation follows a major row late last year when the government confirmed plans to scrap the FiT scheme from March 31 this year. It failed then to respond to industry warnings that the reforms would effectively force households and businesses installing solar panels without accompanying storage capacity after that date to provide some of their power to the grid to free.

Speaking at the time a government spokesperson said falling solar costs meant it was the right time to minimise costs for billpayers by ending the feed-in tariff and indicated the government would "consult shortly on a future framework for small-scale renewable energy generation". But they provided no indication the proposed future framework would ensure generators will in future be able to sell their exported power, prompting fierce criticism from green groups who branded the decision as "perverse" and "bizarre".

Green businesses and campaigners are likely to broadly welcome the new proposals, which promise to provide a boost to the market for solar installations, storage technologies, and other forms of onsite renewables.

However, some concerns are likely to remain over the gap between the FiT scheme ending this spring and the new SEGs scheme being fully up and running, as well as how the new market for exported power will be created and regulated given the high profile technical challenges and delays faced by the government's national smart meter roll out.

It also remains to be seen how energy companies will package purchase agreements for exported power and whether the price they are willing to pay will improve the financial argument for businesses, schools, and households to install onsite generation technologies.

Many industry experts maintain the best financial returns for solar installations are to be found by installing battery storage systems in conjunction with solar arrays, to ensure the vast majority of the power generated is used a site. It's a calculation that will only be strengthened as solar and storage costs continue to fall.

Chris Hewett, CEO at the Solar Trade Association, said the group gave the proposals "a cautious welcome".

"We are very pleased the government is unequivocal; small generators will be compensated for the power they contribute to the system, but the issue remains providing remuneration at a fair market rate," he said.

He said it was encouraging that only installations that meet independent industry standards would qualify for SEGs and that the proposals identify the System Sell Price as accurately reflecting the market value of power spilled to the grid.

"However, the consultation acknowledges many of the market barriers we have raised with government and the associated costs," he added. "Our worry is that these may impede the ability of suppliers to offer fair and meaningful rates, even though they may wish to. Customers are freely able to switch suppliers in a competitive market so where these costs fall remains vital to developing meaningful offers."

Decentralised Power Supplies

Consumers could have specialist EV power suppliers or buy from neighbours under proposed new rules

by New Power  January 3, 2019

Consumers could break away from having a single supplier for all their power by the start of 2020. An industry change that could take effect by then will mean customers can take some of their power from another supplier, such as a community energy scheme or neighbour, or they could have a dedicated supplier for one part of their usage such as charging electric vehicles. That opens new possibilities for competition, the industry believes.

The change will be enabled by a modification to industry rules proposed today by New Anglia Energy, which circumvents current industry processes that require customers to take all their power via a single ‘hub’ supplier.

Proposer New Anglia Energy says the modification (P379) “will address a significant barrier to competition in the market rules.”  It notes that although some schemes disaggregating customers’ volumes, “This is only possible on the basis of agreement between those parties and a single default supplier, and these activities are not recognised in the BSC market rules.”

The modification would introduce a new Customer Notification Agent (CNA) to the process – possibly an app or platform,  which will reconcile power flows through the meter so payments can be allocated.

The option was set out early in 2018 by settlements company Elexon (see our article from May 2018, which said system changes made to accommodate GB participation in European balancing markets (Project Terre) had laid the groundwork for the new approach. However, the market rule change had to be proposed by a Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) party.

New Anglia Energy said, “given the importance of the work to deliver the joint BEIS/Ofgem Smart, Flexible Energy Plan, … we believe the solution should be developed and tested during 2019, with an initial desire to implement in early 2020.” Its proposed timeline would see workgroups assess the change and industry consultation made, with a final modification proposal submitted for decision in October. That could allow new offerings to be made to customers at the start of 2020.