Final aim of Hydrogen to Humber Saltend project that proposes to bury captured carbon emissions under the sea is to expand a hydrogen network across the Humber that can drive the industrial region towards net zero.
Equinor has unveiled plans to build a "world-leading" facility at a chemicals park near Hull that would produce hydrogen from natural gas in combination with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The Norwegian energy giant said today that the proposed 600MW production plant, dubbed Hydrogen to Humber Saltend (H2H Saltend), would be the largest of its type in the world.
In an initial phase, the firm estimates the plant would help the Saltend Chemicals Park to reduce its emissions by nearly 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and allow the park's industrial partners to switch to a hydrogen-natural gas blend.
Carbon dioxide emissions produced in the hydrogen production process would then be captured and transported east by a pipeline to offshore underground storage in the Southern North Sea, Equinor said.
In later phases, the project would be expanded to serve other industrial users in the Park and across the region, allowing the Humber industrial cluster to reach net zero emissions by 2040, Equinor said.
The large-scale hydrogen network would be open to both hydrogen produced from natural gas with CCS - otherwise known as blue hydrogen - and green hydrogen, which is produced using electrolysis powered by renewables.
Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for marketing, midstream, and processing at Equinor, said the project could make the UK and the Humber region a "world-leading example" on how to decarbonise industry using hydrogen and CCS technologies.
"The world continues to need more energy at lower emissions so we can achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement," she said. "This necessitates a substantial decarbonisation of industry, in which we believe carbon capture and storage and hydrogen can and must play a significant role. With private and public investment and supportive UK policy, the H2H Saltend project will demonstrate the potential of these technologies."
Equinor expects to make the final investment decision on the project during 2023, and predicts that production could start three years later. The project is part of the broader Zero Carbon Humber Alliance's application for funding from the second phase of the government's Industrial Challenge Fund.
Al Cook, executive vice president and UK country manager for Equinor, said the project could "transform the UK's largest industrial cluster into its greenest cluster"
The Saltend Chemicals Park, which comprises chemical plants and Triton Power's combined gas turbine power station currently emits around 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
The UK government has committed to fully decarbonising at least one of the UK's industrial clusters by 2040, prompting regions across the county to vie for government funding. The Humber faces competition from industrial clusters in North West England, Teesside, Grangemouth near Falkirk in Scotland, South Wales, and Southampton, which are all working on their own net zero emission plans.
Humber Zero Carbon Alliance members Phillips 66, Uniper, and Vitol-owned power plant VPI Immingham unveiled plans in May to install post-combustion carbon capture technologies on gas-powered generators as well as a develop a new hydrogen production plant at facilities in the region.
Geoff Holmes, chief executive of px Group, which owns and operates Saltends Chemical Park, toasted the latest "landmark project". "We are fully committed to helping industry reach net zero and both CCS and hydrogen will play a huge part in that," he added. "We're looking forward to collaborating with all the project partners as we work towards this common goal."
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