A planned new nuclear plant at Sizewell could also be a centre of hydrogen production for vehicle use, and the plant developer is seeking expressions of interest for partners to produce hydrogen and use it to run heavy vehicles at the site on the Suffolk coast.

The initiative could be the precursor to scaling up hydrogen production for use as transport fuel and in other applications.

The power plant company EDF Energy sees the East of England as a potential major market for hydrogen used as a transport fuel, because of its ports and associated haulage, shipping and offshore industries.

Assuming it wins development consent for the power plant, Sizewell C wants to reduce carbon emissions during construction, and grow the hydrogen market, by installing a 2MW electrolyser using power from the existing Sizewell B plant to produce hydrogen at a rate of 800kg per day – enough to fuel the equivalent of 16 trucks or buses.

The hydrogen would be used to fuel some of the vehicles and equipment used in the construction of the power station and reduce the use of diesel. Further uses could include supplying hydrogen to meet the requirements of local authorities, nearby ports, industry, and for local bus and rail transport.

The project is looking for interested parties to supply the electrolyser, provide hydrogen-fuelled vehicles or equipment (or express interest in hydrogen consumption for their own uses), and provide project management.  Companies “may bid into both sides,” said Julia Pyke, director of financing at Sizewell C.

Long term, Pyke said that a combination of excess power from Sizewell at times of high renewable production, alongside process heat, could allow bulk hydrogen production at low prices that could be delivered to individual vehicles via large hydrogen filling stations or used to produce 'syngas' to replace other fuels.

Nuclear plants typically lose about 60% of the energy they produce to the atmosphere as low-grade heat. But at Sizewell C, the company plans to tap off high temperature process steam, which it believes will allow it to produce hydrogen from solid oxide electrolysis at high efficiencies.

Full copies of the EOI documents and details of how to express an interest are available on the Sizewell C website. Interested parties for the hydrogen demonstrator are asked to send a submission by 8 January 2021.