UK geoscience and geospatial data and software firm Getech is expanding into hydrogen project development, with a pipeline amounting to c.240MW and two UK hubs it hopes to advance towards FID within two years.
The first planned hub is to be located in Shoreham on the south coast of England, while the other will be in Inverness. Getech will develop green hydrogen production, storage and dispensing facilities, as well as wider distribution.
“Our development business at the moment is exclusively in green hydrogen, but we are looking to add alongside that some other assets in geothermal,” Getech CEO Jonathan Copus tells Hydrogen Economist.
Getech anticipates similar development timelines for the Shoreham and Inverness hubs. The firm has completed feasibility studies and customer development work and is due to begin pre-Feed for both hubs soon.
The company targets FID by the second half of 2023 or first half of 2024 and aims to produce first hydrogen at both hubs by 2025.
Both projects will be developed in a modular way, with the ambition to ultimately produce 10t/d of hydrogen at each project.
“For our first phase, we are working with design capacities of 2.5t/d, which will scale up as the customer base grows,” Copus says.
“At this stage, it is important we are building a pipeline, but it is also really important that people are delivering robustly engineered, safe and commercially attractive projects—and that is what we are building in Shoreham and Inverness. And we are taking all the knowledge and expertise we build through those to repeat throughout the portfolio.”
Getech expects both hubs to serve the mobility sector. The port of Shoreham has a concentration of demand, according to Copus, with around 1,000 HGVs moving in and out every day and large fleets of heavy, high-capacity forklift trucks being used to move materials around.
“What we are looking for in these hubs is a really compelling reason, at that particular location, why green hydrogen is the path to decarbonisation—because it is not necessarily [the right path] everywhere,” he says.
Meanwhile, the combination of low temperatures, distances between refuelling points and extreme topography present major challenges for battery-electric vehicles in the Scottish highlands, creating a similarly compelling business case for the Inverness project, according to Copus.
“We have [a memorandum of understanding] with the Highlands Council to take Inverness as an ‘anchor hub’ and expand it into a network of hydrogen hubs which we can use to start decarbonising the broader highlands region,” he says.
While Copus is optimistic about national policy support for hydrogen production, he expects further support will be needed to stimulate demand and help customers from the mobility sector switch from diesel.
He also expects that the hub model for hydrogen production will dominate due to the lower energy density of hydrogen compared with diesel.
“The economics of hydrogen really start to fall apart when you try and move it around. Our model is very much to produce the hydrogen where the customer needs it, because otherwise the customer has to shoulder the transportation costs and complexities as well,” he says.
Reliability and uptime are a particular focus leading into pre-Feed, Copus adds.
“If any company is producing green hydrogen and cannot deliver it, that in itself is a significant problem. There has to be robustness of equipment and robustness of engineering in order to meet customer needs,” he says.
“Our hydrogen developments do not hinge on technology that has yet to be invented. That is the good thing about hydrogen—pretty much all of what we need to establish these hubs and grow them already exists.”
Getech’s primary geospatial data business is “fully integrated” into project development as it helps identify the best locations for hubs, based on drivers of green hydrogen demand, Copus says.
The company is also involved in other sectors that could impact the progress of the hydrogen industry and wider decarbonisation initiatives—such as carbon storage and critical mineral extraction.
And a ramp-up in both electrification and production of electrolysers is expected to put additional pressure on metals. Copus highlights copper and platinum group metals as elements that are in particularly high demand.
“The energy transition is driving a massive diversification in the number of metals we need,” he says, adding that national resource security was a critical issue.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted how quickly supply chains can be disrupted due to geopolitical tensions, and Copus notes that availability and cost of raw materials is a significant concern for all companies working to accelerate the energy transition.
“We are helping companies and governments navigate these challenges by using Getech’s data, software and expertise to locate and develop new economic concentrations of critical minerals,” he says.