Innovative Hydrogen Storage as a Service model set to transform UK market

01 February 2024

A groundbreaking project set to revolutionise gaseous hydrogen storage and distribution solutions has been launched and includes expertise from the University of Sheffield AMRC. 

The new Hydrogen Storage as a Service (HySaaS) is being funded by Innovate UK and is a collaboration between the AMRC, University of Sheffield, Chesterfield Special Cylinders, Element 2 and HIVE hydrogen. 

Partners will focus on three main areas; operator cost optimisation, enhanced safety and business model innovation, which aims to assess the feasibility of significantly reducing the capital cost of hydrogen storage via the HySaaS business model.

Stuart Dawson, chief engineer for hydrogen at the AMRC, said: “We’re delighted to be a partner on this project, as it is a clear example of how our expertise in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), can be tangibly applied to enable cylinder level condition monitoring to lower CAPEX barriers, enhance safety and enable new business models.”

Frank Ashton, hydrogen business development and partnerships manager for Chesterfield Special Cylinders, added that the business brings many decades of successfully providing hydrogen storage solutions to the project. 

“We are delighted to play a central part in bringing together this project collaboration, which won support from Innovate UK,” he said. 

“Ultimately, we believe it will accelerate decarbonisation through the earlier adoption of hydrogen thanks to lower than anticipated entry costs for hydrogen storage solutions, and by increasing the operational ‘uptime’.”

James Harris, chief operating officer for Element 2, said: “Effective transport and storage of hydrogen is a cornerstone of the UK’s low carbon economy and is an area ripe for innovation.

“Element 2 is excited to be part of this innovative project team, and to support the consortium in designing and running a successful pilot.

“Ultimately, the technical and economic learning that this project provides will help the industry to improve quality, reduce lifetime operational costs, and to accelerate our plans for growth with confidence.”

Looking into the three main focus areas for the project a little more closely;

1. Operator cost optimisation: The HySaaS project is expected to reduce the capex costs required for storage and distribution for hydrogen refuelling and other small-to-medium scale value chain projects from the levels
currently seen at this early stage of market development.
The project will evaluate the operator cost benefits of a service model which includes ‘renting’ instead of selling hydrogen storage modules. Potential secondary benefits include increased operational ‘uptime’ and life of hydrogen storage and distribution solutions, thus, reducing operators’ Total Cost of Ownership at the same or better levels of safety. 

2. Enhanced safety: Condition monitoring of gaseous hydrogen pressure vessels is sometimes applied at a bundle level, where multiple cylinders are assessed as a unit. However, service conditions for individual cylinders can vary greatly over time, depending on operating parameters. Project HySaaS will explore the feasibility of cylinder-level monitoring, therefore allowing
more precise risk identification, and more frequent data collection to inform optimised preventive maintenance actions.

3. Business model innovation: The project will assess the feasibility of innovative deployment of a rental business model for hydrogen storage and distribution assets by exploring the stakeholder, technical and commercial implications of its long-term use. This work will provide insights on how to deliver stakeholder and commercial solutions and to make this business model work alongside traditional sales models.

Diana Raine, HIVE Hydrogen director, shared her thoughts on the collaboration: “The HySaaS project provides the perfect opportunity to examine how new offerings can help optimise and accelerate the UK’s hydrogen market whilst improving operational safety for the whole sector. 

“We are excited to be part of this collaborative effort that has the potential to drive positive change.” 

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