Project will come online in 2025 and capture eight million metric tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide emissions initially, with the potential to target 30Mt later, the partners said.
Proposals for the world's first zero carbon industrial cluster in the Humber region received a boost this week after Phillips 66, Uniper, and Vitol-owned power plant VPI Immingham entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see them co-operate to advance plans to build a hybrid carbon capture and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen production facility in the region by the mid-2020s.
The companies said on Tuesday that they plan to install post-combustion carbon capture technologies on two of the three gas-powered generators at the VPI Immingham combined heat and power (CHP) plant and selected processing units at the Humber and Lindsay refineries, which are owned by Phillips 66 and Total.
Then in a second phase of the 'Humber Zero' project, the partners plan to develop a hydrogen hub that would produce hydrogen to serve the third generator and local industry. The facility could produce hydrogen using renewable energy, otherwise known as a green hydrogen, as well as blue hydrogen that is produced from natural gas and can be subsequently decarbonised using carbon capture systems.
The agreement was welcomed by Humber Zero project director Jonathan Briggs, who hailed it as a further step forward for the wide-ranging plans. "Humber Zero delivers a world scale decarbonisation project built around one of the UK's most efficient generating assets and an industrial hub in Immingham," he said. "It can establish the foundation for a gateway to decarbonise the wider Humber, bringing new industries, sectors and jobs to the region."
The 1,240MW VPI Immingham facility, one of the largest CHP plants in Europe, is used by local refineries to produce gasoline and other products from crude oil.
In the first phase, the Humber Zero project expects to capture eight million metric tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide emissions, but the project has the potential to target 30Mt of carbon dioxide emissions across the wider industrial cluster to the west of Immingham, the companies said.
Rene Schoof, head of hydrogen at energy giant Uniper, which is also contributing to the project, said its coastal location would boost its decarbonisation potential. "The proximity to offshore infrastructure for natural gas supply and carbon storage coupled with access to offshore wind power for electrolysis enables this project to offer a great decarbonisation package, we are very much looking forward to working with the other partners to develop this," he explained.
The project also has the potential to decarbonise other power stations and industry, such as neighbouring British Steel facilities, the partners noted, through a new pipeline route planned in southern Humber. And its proximity to the deep-water Immingham port could enable both the creation of a carbon dioxide exporting industry and the decarbonisation of one of the UK's busiest ports.
Mike Lockett, UK country chairman of Uniper, touted hydrogen's important role in the UK's net zero transition. "Hydrogen will play a significant role in meeting the net zero ambition and Humber Zero is an ideally located project for developing large scale hydrogen production in the UK," he said. "It's great that Uniper is part of this project and will be able to contribute its expertise to the decarbonisation of the Humber Industrial Cluster."
Hydrogen can be used as a substitute for coal, oil, and gas in a large variety of applications but is particularly vaunted as a decarbonisation solution for a sectors less amenable to electrification, such as heavy transport, steel making, and building heating.
The Humber Zero project is funded by UK Research and Innovation's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which was set up to help businesses located in key industrial clusters meet the UK' 2050 net zero objective. The partners plan to move the project to a Front End Engineering Design (FEED) phase next year.
Humber Zero is one part of the ambitious Humber Deployment Project, a project backed by 11 partners that seeks to establish the world's first zero carbon industrial hub in the region by 2040.
The Humber is home to one-third of the UK's refining capacity and is one of the country's heaviest polluting industrial corridors.
The Humber Deployment consortium, which counts Phillips 66, Uniper, Drax, National Grid Ventures Centrica Storage and Associated British Ports, claim that the initiative will contribute £18bn towards UK gross value added (GVA) while safeguarding 55,000 manufacturing jobs in the region.
However, it is in a race with a number of other industrial hubs around the UK who are all currently jockeying for position to secure government funding to support their ambitious carbon capture plans.
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