Lyons – Hydrogen production is a key driver of the green economy

Date published: 30 May 2022

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has visited a local energy project to view how they are working to produce green hydrogen from renewable energy sources.

Gerard McIlroy, Finance Director at Mutual Energy, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and David Surplus, CEO, B9 Energy at Ballylumford Power Station..
Gerard McIlroy, Finance Director at Mutual Energy, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and David Surplus, CEO, B9 Energy at Ballylumford Power Station..

The Ballylumford Power-to-X Project on Islandmagee ultimately aims to create a full-cycle hydrogen economy, from production and storage, through to distribution and usage at the site and beyond.

The project sees local firms B9 Energy, Mutual Energy, and Aberdeen based Net Zero Technology Centre collaborating to bolster NI’s green credentials and foster growth in the renewables sector.

The project will deploy an innovative membrane free electrolyser to provide longer duration electrical balance for wind energy that would otherwise go unused. The hydrogen will be distributed in a dedicated transmission pipeline and stored underground in a local salt cavern system for later use as carbon free fuel in both the transport and power generation sectors.

Speaking afterwards Minister Lyons said: “Internationally significant projects, such as the Ballylumford Power-to-X project, demonstrate how Northern Ireland is uniquely positioned to become a leader in hydrogen deployment and technology innovation. It has significant wind resource, a modern gas network, interconnection to both the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain, a relatively small geographic area and a world-renowned reputation for engineering and manufacturing.   In addition, institutions such as Ulster University, Queen’s University and Belfast Metropolitan College, are leading the way in advanced manufacturing techniques, robotics and hydrogen training and safety.

“Hydrogen production is being positioned not just as a route to decarbonisation but also as a key driver of the green economy.  Opportunities for Northern Ireland include the local manufacture of electrolysers, hydrogen fuel, and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles for which there will be a rapidly growing demand world-wide.  This would potentially create many new jobs in hydrogen technology, in the aerospace and advanced materials sectors and their supply chains.”

The Minister added: “The unabated rises in energy bills, driven by our continued reliance on importing fossil fuels, highlights the importance of our local Energy Strategy ‘The Path to Net Zero Energy’ which aims to reduce the energy we use by investing in energy efficiency and take advantage of our natural resources to generate clean indigenous energy.  Through focussing on our natural resources, we can ensure that more of the money we invest and spend on energy in Northern Ireland stays in the local economy, helping to create local jobs and wealth.”

David Surplus, spokesperson for the Ballylumford Power-to-X project said: “We welcome this visit from the Minister to our innovative project that we hope will not only benefit the economy in the local area but enhance Northern Ireland’s position within the renewable energy market on a global scale. The project represents a 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.

“The BEIS funded Ballylumford Power-to-X Project offers an 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. It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and help end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels.”

The Ballylumford site has unique significance, combining strong connection to the Northern Ireland gas and electricity transmission networks alongside interconnection with Scotland through the Scotland-Northern Ireland Pipeline (SNIP) and Moyle electricity interconnector.

Notes to editors: 

1. CAPTION: Pictured (L-R) at the Ballylumford power station is: Gerard McIlroy, Finance Director at Mutual Energy, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons and David Surplus, CEO, B9 Energy. Mutual Energy and B9 Energy are part of the Ballylumford Power-to-X project collaboration which aims to create a full-cycle hydrogen economy, from production and storage through to distribution and usage, at the site and beyond.

2. The Ballylumford  Power-to-X Project is part of the UK Government’s Department of Business Energy & Industry Strategy (BEIS) Longer Duration Energy Storage (LODES) Demonstration innovation competition. BEIS has awarded £986,000 to the 12-month Power-to-X Project, located in Ballylumford. 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 5GW 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 (>= 4hrs) 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.

3. About NZTC

  • The purpose of the Net Zero Technology Centre is to develop and deploy technology to accelerate an affordable net zero energy industry. The Net Zero Technology Centre was created as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal, with £180 million of UK and Scottish government funding to maximise the potential of the North Sea.
  • Since our inception in 2017, we have been advocates of the role of technology in decarbonising the oil and gas industry. We launched a Net Zero Solution Centre in 2019. In 2020, we redefined our purpose to focus on developing and deploying technology for an affordable net zero Energy Industry. In 2021, we completed our pivot, changing our name from OGTC to the Net Zero Technology Centre to more accurately reflect our purpose.
  • More than £211 million has been co-invested with industry in technologies from effective well plugging and abandonment, asset integrity to autonomous robotics and renewable power systems. We have screened over 1,560 exciting new technologies, completed or progressed 168 field trials, over 29 technologies have been commercialised, 45 tech start-ups supported, and we have helped generate £10-£15 billion GVA potential for the UK economy.
  • Further details are available on the Net Zero Technology Centre website.

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6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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