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| 2 minutes read

Funding available for electrolyser technology

Energy storage is an area showing strong growth in patenting. In recent years, for example, several inventions have been developed in the context of energy storage solutions in combination with offshore wind installations. According to a patent insight report published by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), offshore wind combined with electrolyser technology is an area rapidly scaling up in innovation. It is therefore great to see that £500k in funding has been made available by the Net Zero Technology Centre for its electrolyser technology competition.

Different solutions have been proposed for combining offshore wind with electrolyser technology, ranging from electrolysers located onshore (with electricity being transmitted by a subsea cable from the wind farm site to the electrolyser and then hydrogen being produced on land) to electrolysers integrated in the wind turbines themselves (where hydrogen is produced offshore and then transported to shore through a dedicated pipeline). According to an article by Ramboll, there are pros and cons to each of these and the best configuration will depend on each unique offshore project. 

In 2022, however, patent filings relating to energy storage peaked with 63% pertaining to storage using hydrogen produced by on-site, offshore electrolysers. This suggests there may be greater interest in locating electrolysers offshore, which may allow for more wind sites to operate independent of grid connection, producing hydrogen for transportation to land. However, transporting hydrogen is particularly challenging for a number of reasons, and one of the main problems remains to be cost. While there are abundant pipelines in existence for the transportation of hydrocarbons, the repurposing of existing pipelines may not be the most financially viable option for transporting hydrogen due to the technical complexities involved, as indicated in the Hydrogen Backbone Link report prepared by the Net Zero Technology Centre last year (which examined opportunities around Scotland becoming an exporter of green hydrogen to Europe). 

Despite these challenges, according to analysis performed by Xodus, a long-term outlook of Levelised Cost of Hydrogen (LCOH) could fall towards £2/kg, with an estimated reference cost of £2.3/kg in 2032 for hydrogen delivered to shore. Further, BloombergNEF estimate that a mid-range price for offshore wind-to-hydrogen will be around $7/kg in 2025, dropping to $1/kg by 2050. While these estimates are positive, technological improvements are clearly still needed to realise these predictions and to make green hydrogen cost-competitive with other forms of hydrogen production. 

Regardless of whether electrolysers are located onshore or offshore, to achieve scale and drive costs down it will be important to have more powerful and efficient electrolysers. We are therefore excited to see the innovative technologies entered in the Net Zero Technology Centre’s competition, as well as other technological developments in the hydrogen space, such as that in connection with the study undertaken by Crondall Energy to develop efficient microgrid solutions for hydrogen. 

The Energy Hubs project, one of seven projects within the Net Zero Technology Transition Program, has highlighted that green hydrogen technology and infrastructure requires rapid development to achieve the UK’s decarbonisation goals. Improvements in electrolyser efficiency would have a significant impact on reducing system cost.


energy & environment, patents, yes