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UK government to boost production of hydrogen from biomass

The UK government has launched a new £5 million programme to help develop innovative technologies that produce hydrogen via bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

The BECCS process produces hydrogen by ‘gasifying’ plants and other biomass – heating them intensely with very low levels of oxygen. The biomass, which absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere as it grew, releases it again – along with hydrogen - as it is gasified. The carbon negative process captures the CO2 and permanently stores it, while the hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel, with water vapour its only by-product when burned.

The £5m Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme fund forms part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes through the 2020s and 2030s.

BEIS intends to use the Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme to support the development of low cost, energy and material efficient technologies which will optimise biomass and waste feedstocks for use in advanced gasification, as well as the development of advanced gasification technology components that can be used to convert biomass or waste into aviation fuel, diesel, hydrogen, methane and other hydrocarbons.

It also hopes to support the development of novel biohydrogen technologies, such as dark fermentation, anaerobic digestion and wastewater treatment, which can be combined with carbon capture.

Small and large businesses as well as research institutions and universities can now bid for a share of the fund under phase 1 of the programme. Each project is able to bid for up to £250,000 to help develop its plans and demonstrate the feasibility of its proposed innovation. A second phase will provide further funding to support the most promising phase 1 bids.

The government said hydrogen BECCS technologies “have a key role to play” on the UK’s path to net zero emissions, providing hydrogen as a clean fuel for hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as transport and heavy industry, while also removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Greg Hands, energy and climate change minister, said: “This innovative technology offers incredible potential for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, crucial to reaching our net zero goals. This government funding will help support the development of this new technology in the UK, boosting green jobs and investment while slashing carbon emissions.”

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