Essar Oil UK, which owns the Ellesmere Port site, has submitted plans that bring the low carbon hub a step closer. BEIS has awarded £13m to fund two world-first hydrogen projects led by the HyNet consortium in the North West. The first sees Essar Oil UK as owner and operator of the UK’s leading low carbon hydrogen project with the company also involved in the second project, to conduct live trials of hydrogen fuelling. Both HyNet projects are led by developer Progressive Energy.
The project to develop the UK’s first low carbon hydrogen plant at Essar Oil UK’s Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port, has been awarded £7.5m. The plant will produce 3TWh of low carbon hydrogen – double the UK’s total current production of biomethane – which will be provided to industrial and eventually domestic customers in the region. The facility will deliver low cost, low carbon hydrogen at scale and high efficiency, and with a very high carbon capture rate – over 95% of the carbon used in the process will be captured and stored, thanks to the pioneering carbon capture technology. When operational, the facility will capture 600,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum – the equivalent of taking over 250,000 cars off the road.
HyNet has also received £5.2m to fund live trials of hydrogen fuelling at Unilever’s Port Sunlight manufacturing site and at Pilkington’s Greengate Works glass-making plant in St Helens. The projects will aim to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used as a substitute fuel for natural gas in manufacturing processes, helping the companies’ transition to a low-carbon future and providing evidence that will pave the way for a range of global industries.
David Parkin, director, Progressive Energy and spokesperson for the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA) said: “The Committee on Climate Change is absolutely clear that to deliver Net Zero, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage are going to be a necessity. This funding is hugely significant for the North West, and the rest of the UK, providing essential support for HyNet and taking hydrogen energy from aspiration to reality.”
Mark Wilson, CEO Essar Oil UK, said: “We are excited to be part of this initiative and believe we have the facilities and technological skills to help deliver the project. The construction of the hydrogen facility at Stanlow is the first stage in becoming a carbon neutral site and will support our long-term ambition of remaining a key national supplier of energy to the UK as we move towards a zero carbon world.”
Robert MacLeod, Chief Executive, Johnson Matthey said: “If the UK is to achieve its Net Zero targets, a new era of clean energy is required in which hydrogen plays a crucial role. But we need to act now, and act collectively, to deploy low carbon hydrogen at scale.”
The Government investment will enable the North West to become a trailblazer in the UK for the transition to a low carbon economy. The projects form part of HyNet, which could see low-carbon hydrogen blended into the gas grid and piped into homes and businesses by 2025. The HyNet project is part of the wider North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster which could deliver 33,000 jobs, over £4bn investment, and save 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.