What We Do

Progressive Energy is primarily a project development and implementation company, and has extensive experience of overcoming the technical and commercial challenges associated with bringing new technologies to market.

We have significant experience of developing CCS projects, and are currently engaged in the development and operation of major hydrogen-related projects to decarbonise the gas networks and in the roll-out of battery storage projects to reduce electricity costs for industrial power consumers.

Progressive also acts as a consultant to Government, including BEIS and Ofgem, along with private sector clients, such as energy utilities, banks, private equity funds, oil and gas companies, technology providers and other project developers.

CCUS

Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is a key tool in the fight against climate change.

A CCUS scheme will involve:

  • Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from power generation, hydrogen production or industrial manufacturing processes
  • Transporting the CO2 safely in a pipeline or by a ship
  • Injecting the CO2 into a permanent and safe store, usually end-of-life offshore oil or gas fields

CCUS is increasingly recognised as an approach to decarbonising the ‘hard to reach’ sectors of the economy. These include heat supply to households and businesses and flexible electricity generation (both via enabling low carbon hydrogen production), transport and the direct capture of CO2 from industry that can’t be mitigated by any other technology.

Progressive Energy has been at the heart of developing CCUS schemes in the UK for over twenty years, and is at the forefront of current CCUS project development. The HyNet project is underpinned by CCUS to decarbonise all of the above hard to reach sectors, with CO2 storage planned in depleted gas fields in Liverpool Bay.

Hydrogen Supply

The Committee on Climate Change has highlighted that the UK needs significant volumes of low carbon hydrogen to reach ‘Net Zero’. The 270 TWh of hydrogen by 2050 identified in its Net Zero report is similar to the amount of natural gas used to heat all our homes in the UK today.

Hydrogen has an important role to:

  • Reduce CO2 emissions from our factories and industrials
  • Enable more offshore wind and solar power by providing electricity when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining
  • Reduce CO2 emissions from heating our old and drafty houses; and
  • Complement electric vehicles by reducing CO2 emissions from moving people and goods around the country.

HyNet will deliver the UK’s first large scale low carbon hydrogen plant by 2025. By 2030, it will grow to provide energy equivalent to the North West region’s entire domestic natural gas demand.

The first plant will be located at the Stanlow Refinery, using on local expertise and much existing infrastructure. A consortium of Essar Oil UK, Johnson Matthey, SNC Lavalin and Progressive Energy has been awarded £7.5M of Government funding to undertake a related engineering and development programme. This will be completed in spring 2021, enabling an investment decision shortly thereafter.

Hydrogen Distribution

Low carbon hydrogen will enable decarbonisation of industry, household heating, electricity generation and transport.

Hydrogen distribution networks are required to connect hydrogen production sources to these multiple users and also to storage locations, much the same as is the case for the use of natural gas today.

Progressive Energy, along with partners including Cadent Gas, is currently leading work in relation to a hydrogen distribution network for the HyNet project in the North West England. The outputs from the work will include:

  • An operational model, taking into consideration future rapid growth in hydrogen demand
  • System supply and demand balancing, using geological storage in salt caverns (as for natural gas in the region today);
  • Optimal pipeline routes whichminimise disruption, environmental impacts and cost.

The above work will be followed by a full consenting and permitting phase, such that the network is ready for investment alongside the associated hydrogen production and CCUS infrastructure.

 

Network Blending

Progressive Energy is project managing the UK’s first demonstration of hydrogen injection into an operating gas network.

HyDeploy is a collaborative project, including Cadent Gas and Northern Gas Networks, HSE, Keele University and ITM Power.

HyDeploy has secured the UK’s first ever safety approval to inject hydrogen into a gas network at 20%, which is significantly above the current regulatory limit. Since October 2019, hydrogen has been safely injected into a ‘closed’ gas network at Keele University, supplying over 100 homes and 30 commercial premises.

Two larger trials in ‘public’ networks have also received full funding. The first of these will commence in late 2020 in the North of England and include 670 homes.

HyDeploy will conclude in 2023, having supplied the evidence base necessary to enable wider hydrogen injection into gas distribution networksin the UK, starting with that in the North West as part of the HyNet project.

For more information on HyDeploy, please click here.

Industrial Fuel Switching to Hydrogen

Energy intensive manufacturing requires significant amounts of heat and steam, which cannot be raised by way of electrification or via biofuels.

Since 2016, Progressive has been working with a range of major manufacturers in the North West to explore how they may convert to low carbon hydrogen. Via secure, network-supplied hydrogen and by maintaining the existing gas network supply, the HyNet project provides industry with an attractive pathway to decarbonisation.

To enable this transition, a consortium led by Progressive has been awarded £5.3M of Government funding to undertake a design and practical demonstration programme. This work includes use of hydrogen in existing plant at two locations; in a steam-raising boiler at Unilever’s Port Sunlight site, and in NSG-Pilkington’s glass furnace at St Helens. In addition, detailed engineering is being undertaken to enable Essar’s Stanlow Refinery to invest in a hydrogen-enabled combined heat and power system.

The programme of work will enable these three sites to make an investment decision to convert to hydrogen as soon as it is available from HyNet in the mid-2020s. It will also provide the evidence required to enable widespread conversion of similar industrial sites both in the North West and across the wider UK.

Energy Storage

Progressive Energy’s expertise in energy storage covers natural gas and hydrogen storage in underground caverns, liquefied and compressed air storage and use of batteries.

Underground salt cavern-based storage is a critical part of the decarbonised energy system of the future, as it offers a means to ‘buffer’ base load hydrogen production with intermittent and variable demand. This is demonstrated as part of Progressive’s wider HyNet project, in which hydrogen will be stored in caverns to supply industry, flexible power generators and a blend of hydrogen to the gas network.

Progressive has supported Bryt Energy Storage, a subsidiary of Statkraft UK Ltd, in the development of an integrated storage product and virtual power plant (VPP) system. Progressive assisted Bryt in determining the value of services that would support investment in both ‘behind the meter’ (BtM) and ‘in front of the meter’ (IFoM) applications, along with selecting a battery technology and an integration partner for the power control systems. The first of Bryt’s batteries are currently undergoing commissioning and testing prior to wider deployment across its customer base.

BioSNG

For waste that cannot be reused or recycled, energy recovery represents an environmentally sound option compared to landfill, particularly where it can be used to displace fossil fuel derived energy.

Progressive has been pursuing the production of biomethane from waste wood, and the residual material left over after recycling. This form of biomethane is called BioSNG and is identical to the gas we use today and so can be injected into the existing gas network to heat our homes and to fuel heavy goods vehicles. As it is largely derived from biomass, it is also considered to result in far lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).

A demonstration facility is under construction in Swindon, which will convert 10,000 tonnes per annum of refuse derived fuel into grid quality gas. Progressive has also secured planning permission for a commercial-scale project in the North West. This project will capture 100,000 tonnes per annum of biogenic CO2 for permanent storage as part of the HyNet project, delivering negative carbon emissions. In the future, a similar, simpler process may be used to make bio-hydrogen.

Energy System Modelling

Progressive Energy believes in understanding energy challenges in their broadest context.

We have led numerous projects with both gas and electricity networks to quantitatively study decarbonisation of the whole energy system including heat, power and transport. This work helps to inform Progressive’s strategic thinking around how the energy system might be developed to better serve society’s needs.

Our work to date has primarily been in collaboration with Wales and West Utilities, utilising the ‘Pathfinder’ model. For the HyHy project, for example, we modelled the 2050 Cardiff energy system to explore the relationship between hydrogen supply and hybrid heating technologies, with the goal of informing stakeholders of the potential advantages of strategically coupling these two technologies.

We also use whole system modelling on an ongoing basis to explore the cost and carbon benefits associated with deployment of the HyNet project. This work has demonstrated that both the initial phase of HyNet and subsequent extension beyond the North West and into South Wales and the Midlands, would result in significant benefits compared with alternative pathways.

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