Led by Essar as the majority shareholder, Vertex Hydrogen has been formed to provide the catalyst for development of a hydrogen economy across North West England and North Wales, as a central part of the HyNet decarbonisation cluster. The initiative is a core part of Essar’s wider global strategy to focus on investing in energy transition both through the transformation of existing portfolio companies, as well as investments in new ventures.
Providing low carbon hydrogen from 2026
The UK’s first low carbon hydrogen facility at Essar Stanlow will sit at the heart of the HyNet low carbon cluster, to produce a total of 1GW per year of hydrogen, across two units, from 2026. This is equivalent to the domestic heating energy used by a major British city region, such as Liverpool.
Waste fuel gases from Essar Stanlow, and natural gas, will be converted by Vertex Hydrogen into hydrogen, with carbon dioxide safely captured and stored underground by HyNet partner Eni SpA, offshore in Liverpool Bay. The hydrogen production hub will provide low carbon energy to replace fossil fuels in industry across the HyNet region, as well as heating homes, and fuelling buses, trains and trucks.
A total investment of approx. £1 billion will be committed to deliver the hydrogen production hub.
Creating a hydrogen future for businesses
The hydrogen produced will, in the first instance, be utilised by Essar to reduce its carbon footprint at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex. In addition, Vertex will also provide low carbon hydrogen to a wide range of businesses, including companies from the chemicals, ceramics, paper, glass and flexible power generation sectors, such as Tata Chemicals Europe, Encirc, InterGen, Solvay, Ingevity, Novelis, Glass Futures and Saica Paper – all having expressed interest already. More widely in the region, companies such as Pilkington are demonstrating use of hydrogen in their facilities. Cadent Gas Ltd is also developing the UK’s first multi-user hydrogen distribution network within HyNet.
Prashant Ruia, Essar chairman, said: “Essar is massively committed to investing in energy transition and is building a portfolio of companies in this space. Vertex Hydrogen is a central component of that vision, which will be instrumental in helping create a hydrogen future for North West England and North East Wales. This will see over £1 billion of investment, thereby creating jobs and supporting local communities for decades to come.”
Deepak Maheshwari, Essar chief executive officer, commented: “Vertex Hydrogen is a critical investment for Essar in helping it achieve its vision of becoming the UK’s first low carbon refinery and supplying UK markets with the sustainable fuels of the future.”
Chris Manson-Whitton, director at Progressive Energy, explained: “As the founding developer of HyNet, we see the launch of Vertex Hydrogen as a key milestone. Vertex is central to unlocking the low carbon hydrogen economy, reducing emissions, creating a cleaner world for future generations whilst creating and safeguarding jobs.”
Driving the UK’s low carbon transformation
In November 2020, the UK Government published its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which included a commitment to deploy Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) in two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s, with a further two clusters coming on-line by 2030.
The successful deployment of CCUS is critical to meeting the UK’s net zero goals and remains crucial for industrial decarbonisation, low carbon power, engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies and delivering the Government’s 5GW by 2030 low carbon hydrogen production ambition.
Essar is committed to playing a key role with ambitious plans that include the construction of two new low carbon hydrogen production units on site as part of the HyNet consortium, with a planned total investment of approximately £850m to deliver the hydrogen production hubs.
Follow on capacity growth is planned to reach 80% of the UK Government’s new target of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen for power, transport, industry and homes by 2030.
Progressive Energy translates innovative technologies, such as hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), into concepts and ideas all the way through to their deployment to make a material difference to climate change. The company originated, and leads, the development of the HyNet decarbonisation cluster.