The UK’s largest industrial region is one step closer to realising its net zero goal after a bid for government funding was approved to launch Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) Partnership’s decarbonisation plan.
With the project gaining governmental aid, it has moved closer to spearheading the hydrogen revolution in the UK, expecting to become an example for other industrial zones across the UK to replicate.
The partnership’s plan could help the region reach net zero by 2040 through low carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and carbon removal technology.
The ZCH bid’s anchor project is the Equinor-led Hydrogen to Humber (H2H) Saltend proposal, which will establish the world’s largest hydrogen production plant with carbon capture on the Humber’s north bank.
H2H Saltend will convert natural gas to hydrogen and capture the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the process.
This could reduce emissions by circa 900,000 tonnes per year as industrial customers at px Group’s Saltend Chemicals Park switch fuel to low-carbon hydrogen while Triton Power’s gas power plant blends hydrogen into the fuel supply of its converted Mitsubishi Power turbines.
Geoff Holmes, CEO of px Group, said, “Our Saltend Chemicals Park will be home to the ZCH anchor project, Hydrogen to Humber Saltend, which will establish the world’s largest hydrogen production plant with carbon capture.”
In addition to this, the project will utilise a shared pipeline network that will carry hydrogen to industrial customers and remove CO2 from power generation and industrial emitters, transporting it to permanent storage in an offshore aquifer in the UK’s Southern North Sea via pipelines developed by NEP, serving both ZCH and Net Zero Teesside (NZT).
A pipeline network, developed by National Grid Ventures, will link H2H Saltend to energy-intensive industrial sites throughout the region with it expected to capture at least 17 million tonnes of CO2 per year and supply up to 10GW of hydrogen by the mid-2030s.
Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice-President for Marketing, Midstream and Processing at Equinor, said, “Starting with the H2H Saltend hydrogen project, Zero Carbon Humber will bring huge benefits to the Humber economy, protecting and creating jobs and reducing emissions.”
“It will transform the Humber into the UK’s largest net zero cluster, unlock new industrial opportunities in the wider region, and make the UK a leading example the world can learn from.”
The matched funding to ZCH covers obtaining land rights, development consents and front-end engineering design for H2H Saltend and the onshore pipeline infrastructure for CO2 and hydrogen, enabling the scheme to move towards a final investment decision on construction during 2023, with H2H Saltend and associated infrastructure expected to come online around 2026.
Ron Deelen, CEO of British Steel, said, “The development of the ZCH project, with the proposed installation of a dual CCS and hydrogen supply pipeline, will afford us the opportunity to utilise a range of techniques to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations.”
In addition to the key sites that are part of the ZCH scheme, there is further potential for other future projects to attract inward investment and cement the Humber’s reputation as the UK’s Energy Estuary and a world-leading net zero region.
These include integrating offshore wind power into hydrogen production, decarbonising the regional gas grid, supplying hydrogen transport fuelling hubs, providing links to CO2 storage services to other industrial clusters and creating the world’s first sustainable maritime refuelling port.
Greg Mckenna, CEO of Centrica Storage, said, “Hydrogen will be a key enabler of the UK’s transition to Net Zero, and this bid win is a significant step forward in the decarbonisation of the Humber region.”
The news is further boosted by a successful bid from the ‘Northern Endurance Partnership’ (NEP) which provides the offshore pipeline and safe storage for emissions captured both in the Humber and Teesside, also successful in a separate bid.
The three projects total nearly £240m ($331m) of private and public funding to decarbonise the North East of England and potentially around 50% of the UK’s industrial carbon emissions.
The ZCH Partnership includes Associated British Ports, British Steel, Centrica Storage Ltd, Drax Group, Equinor, Mitsubishi Power, National Grid Ventures, px Group, SSE Thermal, Saltend Cogeneration Company Limited, Uniper, and the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).