Renew On Line (UK) 62

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 162 July-Aug 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy Review EAC Review, FoE Scenarios

2. BWEA on offshore wind wind ups and downs

3. Wave & Tidal Power in Scotland and Wales

4. Reactions to the Budget...and the Climate Review

5. Greening London.. but not Devon

6. Energy Statistics RO grows

7. Coal to come back cleaner? Clean coal

8. Building Battles Building regs and codes

9. Policy moves. Tory greening, UKERC query

10. Stern Climate Views doom ahead?

11. Fuel Cells R&D slow progress

12. EU News Wind and biofuels grow

13. US News Wind battles, Bushes plan

14. World News Divisive Climate Pact?

15. Nuclear News US reprocessing

11. Fuel Cells R&D

In answer to Parliamentary Question on 9 Feb, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks reported on progress so far on UK fuel cell research.
He noted that the DTI had commissioned two reports in 2004: “Hydrogen Energy Support in the UK” and “A Strategic Framework for Hydrogen Energy in the UK” (
He went on ‘Government research funding includes support for industrial collaborative research and development for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies through the DTI’s Technology Programme. The programme seeks to advance these technologies for both stationary power generation and transport applications, with a view to achieving the cost reductions and performance levels necessary for commercial deployment. This support currently amounts to approximately between £2-3m per annum.’
In parallel, he noted that basic research in universities on both fuel cells and hydrogen is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), including through the SUPERGEN initiative, which in turn supports the UK Sustainable Hydrogen Energy Consortium (UK SHEC) which has received funding of £2.5m.
In addition to SUPERGEN, EPSRC has awarded £1m to investigate the potential role of formic acid as a chemical method for the storage of hydrogen, and £500,000 has been granted to three projects on fundamental science and engineering relevant to the hydrogen economy. He added that hydrogen and fuel cell projects are also eligible to apply to the Carbon Trust for research funding and several had: see:

He went on ‘On 15 June 2005, 1 announced the Government’s response to the report “A Strategic Framework for Hydrogen Energy Activity in the UK” which includes a funding commitment of £15m over four years for a UK wide hydrogen and fuel cell demonstration programme. The demonstration scheme is currently in preparation, and will require EC state aid approval. The Government have also provided funding of over £450,000 for the trial of three hydrogen powered fuel cell buses in London as part of the EU CUTE (Clean Urban Transport in Europe) project. £7.5m of funding has been provided for the fuel cell and low carbon vehicle technology Centre of Excellence (CENEX) based in Loughborough.’
Finally he noted that the Dept. for Transport had announced in Jan, as part of their Horizons innovative research programme, ‘a competition for projects to investigate the options for the further steps required to move to the adoption of a hydrogen transport infrastructure’ which aimed ‘to support between two and four projects examining the practicality and timing of the introduction of the required infrastructure to support hydrogen fuelled vehicles at a cost of up to £500,000’.
That was a more substantial response than was given by Jacqui Smith MP in a holding answer on the potential of fuel cells for schools. She said the government was ‘keeping a watching brief on the development of fuel cells’ but ‘at the moment they are in prototype stage and too unreliable or expensive to be used in schools but future developments may make them a cost-effective replacement for boilers’. Funny that, it’s not a school, but Woking has had one powering a swimming pool for some time.

PV not nuclear?

According to Prof. Keith Barnham from Imperial College London and co-authors, in an article in Nature Materials, the UK could have 12 GW of solar PV installed by 2023, the same as current nuclear capacity, if PV production was expanded by 40% per year, less than the world increase of 57% in 2004. While that may be true, the amount of energy produced would be a lot less, since PV has a much lower load factor (maybe 11%) than nuclear plants (80%) and is also much more expensive in p/kWh terms. But work at Imperial on quantum well cells could double energy conversion efficiency.

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