U.K. Funds World’s Most Powerful Weather and Climate Computer

Beast from the East
Beast from the East

Published Feb 19, 2020 1:09 AM by The Maritime Executive

The U.K. has announced funding for the world's most powerful weather and climate supercomputer.

The government is providing £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) to develop the supercomputer – expected to be the world’s most advanced dedicated to weather and climate – to help more accurately predict storms, select the most suitable locations for flood defenses and predict changes to the global climate. It will also provide better forecasting at airports and more detailed information for the energy sector to help mitigate against potential energy blackouts and surges.

The new supercomputer will be managed by the Met Office. The Met Office is already at the forefront of supercomputing, using its current technology to drive advances in environmental forecasting. As a result, detailed weather predictions for the U.K. now take place every hour instead of every three hours, providing timely updates when extreme weather is approaching. The benefit of this has been felt recently: major storms Ciara and Dennis, and the “Beast from the East” in 2018, were forecast five days in advance, enabling local councils and emergency services to prepare and instigate resilience plans.

Professor Penny Endersby, Met Office Chief Executive said: “This investment will ultimately provide earlier, more accurate warning of severe weather, the information needed to build a more resilient world in a changing climate and help support the transition to a low carbon economy across the U.K.”

The Government has also announced nearly £30 million in funding for five hydrogen projects this week as part of its transition to low carbon.

Dolphyn technology developed by Environmental Resources Management Limited (ERM) is to receive £3.12 million ($4 million). The project concerns the production of hydrogen at scale from offshore floating wind in deep water locations. It combines abundant U.K. offshore wind power with seawater to produce ‘green’ hydrogen which can be piped directly to shore. The concept consists of a large-scale floating wind turbine (nominally 10MW) with an integrated water treatment unit and electrolysers for localized hydrogen production. This funding will enable the detailed design of a 2MW prototype system.

The HyNet low carbon hydrogen plant project led by Progressive Energy is to receive £7.48 million ($9.7 million). A consortium of Progressive Energy, Essar, Johnson Matthey and SNC-Lavalin will deliver the project comprising the development of a 100,000 Nm3 per hour clean hydrogen production facility for deployment as part of the HyNet Cluster, using Johnson Matthey’s low carbon hydrogen technology which enables carbon capture and storage. This technology could lower the cost of low carbon hydrogen by over 20 percent. The funding will permit further project development including engineering design.

The Gigastack technology developed by ITM Power Trading is to receive £7.5 million ($9.8 million). Gigastack will demonstrate the delivery of bulk, low-cost and zero-carbon hydrogen through ITM Power’s gigawatt scale polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers, manufactured in the U.K. The project aims to dramatically reduce the cost of electrolytic hydrogen. This funding will enable ITM Power to work towards developing a system that uses electricity from Orsted’s Hornsea Two offshore wind farm to generate renewable hydrogen for the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery. The company will also develop further plans for large scale production of electrolysers.

The Acorn Hydrogen Project led by Pale Blue Dot Energy (PBDE) is to receive £2.7 million ($3.5 million). The Acorn Hydrogen Project will evaluate and develop an advanced reformation process, including assessment of Johnson Matthey’s low carbon hydrogen technology. This will deliver an energy and cost-efficient process for hydrogen production from North Sea Gas, while capturing and sequestering the associated CO2 emissions. This funding will enable further engineering studies.

The Bulk Hydrogen Production by Sorbent Enhanced Steam Reforming (HyPER) project led by Cranfield University is to receive £7.44 million ($9.7 million). The project proposes to develop a low carbon bulk hydrogen supply through pilot scale demonstration of the sorption enhanced steam reforming process, based on a novel technology invented by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI). This phase of the funding will enable the detailed design and build of the system at Cranfield University.