Business leaders behind huge zero and low carbon plans for the Humber have welcomed the launch of the UK Hydrogen Strategy.
More than a third of the government’s stated 5GW ambition could be achieved on the Energy Estuary.
This week’s publication has been described as kick-starting that regional ambition, with three proposed production hubs – Equinor’s at Saltend, Uniper at North Killingholme and the pioneering Gigastack green energy project close to the latter, with major storage facilities eyed for Aldbrough and offshore at Rough.
Read more:Treasury minister tours the ‘birthplace of the UK’s hydrogen industry’ taking in key Humber sites
Immingham, the UK’s largest port, has revealed grand fuel-switching plans, with clusters of hydrogen end users from oil to steel, through power and other process industry sectors.
It follows offshore wind as a second major pillar in the transformational plans for decarbonisation on the Humber – already described as being part of the ‘birthplace of the UK’s hydrogen industry’.
Pulling much of it together is the Zero Carbon Humber proposal for a dual network of hydrogen supply and carbon capture.
A spokesperson for the Zero Carbon Humber partnership – with 12 member companies actively engaged – said: “This is a welcome step forward in kick-starting a hydrogen economy in the Humber. Over the coming years, the combination of hydrogen, carbon capture and negative emissions technologies will play a pivotal role in decarbonising critical sectors of our economy including power, heating, transport and heavy industry.
An overview of the East Coast Cluster bid’s Humber assets, from Northern Endurance Partnership, uniting Zero Carbon Humber and Net Zero Teesside.
“The Zero Carbon Humber partnership, as part of the East Coast Cluster, brings together the companies that can make this a reality, incorporating hydrogen production facilities, hydrogen-fuelled power stations, hydrogen storage and common hydrogen infrastructure linking them together. These projects combined have the potential to meet over a third of the Government’s 5GW hydrogen capacity target. Developing this world-leading infrastructure in the Humber would build the capacity of the UK-wide supply chain, support thousands of jobs and help level up the region.”
Equinor is an anchor element, with plans for production at Saltend and a joint venture with SSE for power production in North Lincolnshire.
Grete Tveit, senior vice president for low carbon solutions with the Norwegian energy major, said: “We welcome the publication of Britain’s first-ever Hydrogen Strategy and look forward to use our extensive experience in helping UK Government meeting the 5GW low carbon hydrogen production capacity target by 2030.
“At Equinor we stand ready to offer low carbon projects, including potentially the UK’s first low carbon hydrogen plant H2H Saltend, as well as the Keadby Hydrogen power station and Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage projects we’re developing together with SSE Thermal.
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“These projects will help deliver industrial decarbonisation and economic benefits on an unprecedented scale.”
Uniper, with large scale production plans centred around its North Killingholme power station, said it looks forward to continuing to engage with government in developing business models and driving forward decarbonisation – referencing the Humber.
It had only called for strategy acceleration last week.
Mike Lockett, Uniper UK country chairman, said: “The plan set out in the Hydrogen Strategy, together with the set of consultations, provides the next step in developing the framework that will need to be in place for investors like Uniper to take forward hydrogen projects in the UK.
Uniper’s Killingholme Power Station – where plans for large scale hydrogen production are being drawn up.
“We know that hydrogen will be crucial in helping the UK achieve Net Zero by 2050, especially in tackling hard to decarbonise sectors such as industry, heat and transport. To ensure we can deliver hydrogen at scale it is important to recognise the role that both blue and green hydrogen will play, which is why we welcome the Government’s commitment to a ‘twintrack’ approach. Investing in both blue and green hydrogen is essential to drive forward innovative solutions that will reduce emissions across key sectors, whilst supporting global competitiveness, and the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery.
“However, whilst we welcome this package of measures, we must also recognise that this is the start of a process and there is more work to be done in bringing forward investment in technology and infrastructure, if we are to make a UK hydrogen economy a reality.”
An early leader in hydrogen deployment is ITM Power, working with Phillips 66 Humber Refinery and Orsted on the Gigastack project in the Humber. The Sheffield firm also provides electrolyser units to industry globally. Mr Kwarteng visited the new factory as part of the announcement.
Chief executive Dr Graham Cooley said: “By supporting the creation of a UK home market, today’s announcement is a very welcome step in helping British companies cement their positions as world leaders in hydrogen technology. The industry needs a policy landscape in place that identifies priorities and support mechanisms for rolling out green hydrogen production in the UK and that’s just what today’s Hydrogen Strategy sets out.
“Green, zero-carbon hydrogen can abate greenhouse gas emissions from industry, transport and heat. It can be used to store our abundant renewable energy from offshore wind and longer term, be used to create export markets. This is a win for the UK’s decarbonisation plans, a win for cleaner air and a win for British jobs.”
Greeting the strategy release, chief executive at SSE, Alistair Phillips-Davies, also flagged projects in the Humber.
He said: “We strongly welcome the publication of this first-ever Hydrogen Strategy and hope to turn this encouraging strategy into firm and rapid action through our exciting plans. These include working with Equinor on the world’s first major hydrogen-fired power station at Keadby and developing hydrogen storage caverns at Aldbrough , as well as our partnership with Siemens to co-locate hydrogen production facilities at our wind farms. The strategy is a welcome first step to realising the potential of hydrogen.”
Also looking at storage – and domestic use is Centrica, via its storage and British Gas entities.
Centrica’s Rough platform.
(Image: Centrica Storage)
Chris O’Shea, chief executive, said: “The Government’s Hydrogen Strategy is a welcome and crucial step in demonstrating a commitment to the important role of hydrogen as a low carbon fuel in the future energy mix in the home and industry.
“We’re already installing hydrogen ready boilers today and we support the Government’s proposal that all new boilers installed after 2026 are hydrogen ready. This will be one of the least disruptive and cheapest options for consumers, which will help ensure a just and fair transition for all.
“Producing hydrogen at scale will require hydrogen storage facilities to manage the inevitable fluctuations in production and demand, and it’s why we are discussing with Government the possibility of converting our Rough North Sea field into a major hydrogen-ready storage facility to meet this need at the lowest cost. In doing so, we hope to provide a crucial part of the foundations of the hydrogen economy to put us on track to meet the objective shared by both Government and Centrica of meeting net zero in 2050.
“We want to do this in a way which reduces the cost of the energy transition to consumers and supports a green industrial revolution by creating thousands of jobs.”
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