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ITM Power lands feasibility funding for ambitious Cheshire energy storage project

Project Centurion could potentially make a "significant contribution" to the decarbonisation of the UK's electricity and gas networks, according to ITM.

Bridges across the River Mersey, at Runcorn
Bridges across the River Mersey, at Runcorn

ITM Power plc (LON:ITM) told investors it has secured UK government funding to advance a possible power-to-gas energy storage project in Runcorn, Cheshire.

Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency, will provide funds for a feasibility study that will assess the proposed ‘Project Centurion’ which would demonstrate a 100MW P2G energy storage system – which would produce low carbon hydrogen for heat, decarbonisation of industry, and transport fuel.

READ: ITM Power opens Swindon hydrogen refuelling station

“Once successfully demonstrated, such systems can make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of the electricity and gas networks, and by coupling these two networks together provide energy storage, allowing the UK energy system to accommodate increasing amounts of renewable energy, reducing curtailment and constraint,” ITM said in a statement.

Examine the business case for Project Centurion

Specifically, the feasibility phase of the project will aim to produce a system design with costs significantly below current targets, build the consensus on P2G systems, and to produce an evidence base for raising project financing.

It will produce a business case and delivery plan for Project Centurion, with a clear description of the next steps.

"Project Centurion is an ambitious project with an important consortium of industrial partners that share a world class vision of power-to-gas energy storage,” said Dr Graham Cooley, ITM chief executive.

“The project explores green hydrogen production, pipeline transmission, salt cavern storage and gas grid injection at an industrial scale and will assess the business case for deployment."

It will be a breakthrough project

ITM is partnered in the venture by INOVYN, Storengy, Cadent and Element Energy.

The study will, specifically, look at the possibility of siting a 100MW Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyser at the INOVYN Runcorn Site.

INOVYN already produces hydrogen as a co-product of a chlor-alkali process, and, the gas is used mainly onsite.

That site has an existing 420MW supergrid connection, power electronics and planning consent for industrial scale hydrogen production.

As part of the scoping, the report will look at the transport of hydrogen by pipeline to salt caverns for storage and/or blended with natural gas.

It will also assess the feasibility of injecting gas into the local gas network. The envisaged project could be the first-time a P2G system injects hydrogen into the public gas network in the UK at scale.

Also, it would be the first time the electricity and gas system would be coupled in the UK to provide energy storage for excess electricity; and it will be the largest water to hydrogen electrolyser system in the world, ITM noted.

Large scale electrolysis, gas storage and decarbonisation

"This is an exciting project building on our extensive experience of large scale electrolysis, generating and handling hydrogen, together with expansion of our gas storage operations into new areas,” said INOVYN project manager Richard Stevenson.

Storengy UK managing director Catherine Gras added: “Power to gas energy storage is key to decarbonise European energy systems.”

“We firmly believe hydrogen is a promising solution and a project like Centurion will allow us to identify the conditions under Project Centurion is an exciting project and we are delighted to be a part of it,” said Simon Fairman, director of network strategy for Cadent.

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