Essar to invest £45m in UK’s first hydrogen refinery furnace

In a UK first, Essar Oil UK (EOUK) has announced plans to install a new £45 million furnace at Stanlow that’s capable of using hydrogen as its fuel source and, once hydrogen fuelled, will reduce Stanlow’s CO2 emissions by 11%.

The scheme (which is subject to planning approval) comprises the decommissioning of three existing furnaces and their replacement with a single, highly efficient furnace and will reduce Stanlow’s carbon emissions due to gas-only firing and new burners that emit lower levels of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) as well as futureproofing to enable the use of sustainable fuel types in the future such as hydrogen. The planned investment marks another significant milestone in the energy producer’s commitment to become the UK’s first low carbon refinery and follows the launch of Vertex Hydrogen last month.

Building for a cleaner future

Representing a £45 million investment, the new furnace forms a key part of the company’s strategy to reduce its own carbon emissions.  Unique in its ability to run entirely off hydrogen, the furnace has an improved energy efficiency of 4% compared to existing furnaces, which will save 16,600 tonnes of CO2 per annum, as well as reducing ongoing maintenance costs. It is currently being fabricated in Thailand and will be delivered to the site almost fully constructed.

Set to be installed in 2022, the furnace will become fully operational next year. From 2026 onwards it will be fuelled by hydrogen produced at Stanlow as part of the HyNet North West decarbonisation cluster.  Essar’s new joint venture, Vertex Hydrogen, will develop the world’s first and largest blue hydrogen production plant at Stanlow and the hydrogen produced there will be used at the site as well as distributed to businesses in the region to support their own transition.

Securing Stanlow’s future

Deepak Maheshwari, Chief Executive Officer at Essar Oil UK, commented: “We have hugely ambitious plans for Stanlow and are committed to making it the UK’s first low carbon refinery. By affecting a significant and rapid transition to hydrogen, we are securing the long-term future of this vitally important national asset whilst also playing a key role in supporting the UK’s plans for building the low carbon economy of tomorrow. We would like to thank our community for its ongoing support of our refinery at Stanlow.”

Essar’s Stanlow refinery – which supplies 16% of the UK’s road transport fuels – sits at the heart of HyNet North West. The initiative was designated as a Track 1 Industry Cluster by Government in October 2021 and plans to produce 1GW per year of hydrogen – the equivalent to the domestic heating energy used by a major British city, for example the Liverpool City Region.  As well as being used by Essar, the hydrogen will be supplied to a wide range of businesses across the North West, including Tata Chemicals Europe, Encirc, and InterGen.