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Mersey Tidal Power | Hynet Hydrogen Cluster
- Feb 8, 2023 9:47 am GMT
Mersey Tidal Power | Hynet
An ambassadorial reception in Liverpool represented an opportunity to catch up with a couple of projects, which I've been tracking - and sharing - for years and it's great to be back to face to face and the convivial atmosphere was most welcome.
The venue was the ‘racquets club’ in the city centre. I didn't even know that there was a rackets or traditional tennis club in the city built when Liverpool was the Port of the Empire and forming a very impressive backdrop to a lovely evening.
The two subjects under discussion involved the Mersey tidal array, now being directed by a former colleague, and also the Northwest hynet CCS and hydrogen cluster. Present were political stakeholders, local government officials and the developers themselves. What is really happening behind the scenes for hynet with the article already three years old.
A dinner and reception sponsored by the British ambassador so it was good to see the political inputs and it was also nice to catch up with the mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotheram, who stood up to give an entertaining and impassioned speech on behalf of his city and the tidal and offshore wind schemes. He recalled that a boy in his ‘keks’, or trousers short trousers, he looked at the Mersey and was also aware of the power of the water and how it could be harnessed.
To his credit, he's kept that ambition going and he's very much supportive of the scheme the problems around it are not unique to tidal flow schemes. They're having already struck the ill-fated Swansea Bay tidal scheme, which struggled to keep her costs within what the Treasury would deem acceptable.
To an extent it was cannibalised by the rapid success and cost reductions enabled by offshore wind which is now below £40 per megawatt hour in the UK well below both nuclear and tidal array costs an aspiration around for over 100 years and recognised by Rotheram remains and now work on the business case to convince sometimes sceptical Treasury analysts, the next challenge.
Similar financial challenges face to face the Hynet scheme where the business case again is being refined parts of which are now starting to enter the public domain and indeed the planning system with pipelines for the carbon capture utilisation and storage element in Liverpool Bay. It’s in the public domain and the timelines favourable for the overall scheme.
We'll wait to see when once again the Treasury and other government departments feel the same. The conversation itself was energetic we had the chance to show all of Ireland delegates around some of the Northwest's energy infrastructure ranging from gas plants at Carrington to the refineries to Stanlow with, perhaps, a future for sustainable aviation fuel production.
It is great to see stakeholders engaging the awareness that project still exists as Korean partners are brought on and local press remains mindful of its presence and events such as this, keeping the larger infrastructure schemes in the public consciousness in my own northwest of England.
From an independent perspective, it may be useful to list the positives and minuses of such events. On the plus side it shows that both highlights and the Mersey tidal range game still have traction and that the right steps are being taken to move both mega projects ahead.
Also a positive is the is the bringing together of stakeholders, developers, those from involved in in tangentially in the planning sector to raise awareness and avoid an echo chamber developing where insiders talk to each other we've taken for granted assumptions and the wider public is left nonplussed and concerned about developments.
As with the offshore wind Round 4 process it's good also to see both South Wales and North Wales is engaging but from a developer point of view, there is a caution after the ill-fated Tan8 eight scheme whereby the government itself allocated areas for wind and then the relevant consents weren't forthcoming which led to many developers thinking that it might not be a good place to develop which might come back to haunt those involved as they seek a renewable future.
Another concern revolves around impetus. Hynet was announce as a world leading scheme, three or four years ago, I shared it with the community here. But other countries seem to be racing perhaps to think of the traction gained in places such as Brazil and South Africa, which weren't even on the radar back then, are moving ahead at much faster pace.
Let’s hope that speed can be regained. Full credit to all those involved in arranging best to the embassy for sponsoring it and engaging with it. I hope my region, the Northwest, can gain maximum advantage from the coming hydrogen economy.
Thanks then to the organisers for the Ambassadors reception and a stimulating evening. The only thing that I didn't notice, was somebody going around with a silver platter of chocolate
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