Norwegian-state owned Equinor is planning to build a 600MW hydrogen production plant near Hull.
The facility will turn methane, also called natural gas, into hydrogen via thermal reformation. It will capture and store the CO2 released by the process and the firm believes it will kick start a decarbonised industrial cluster in the Humber region.
The Hydrogen to Humber Saltend (H2H Saltend) project intends to produce the hydrogen for use by local industrial businesses within the park, switching them to a 70:30 methane-hydrogen blend.
Using carbon capture, Equinor calculates this will reduce emissions by almost 900,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The aim is to expand a hydrogen network across the Humber region as well as a carbon capture and storage infrastructure, where emissions are buried under the sea. Even the area around Salt End could support 3GW of annual hydrogen production, according to the firm.
Equinor added that network will be open to both hydrogen from electrolysis (e.g. excess wind power, known as green hydrogen, which would not need to use the CCS infrastructure) as well as ‘blue’ hydrogen produced from methane reformation.
A recent report from Aurora suggests while green hydrogen could largely decarbonise the power sector, blue hydrogen will need to do the heavy lifting to decarbonise transport, heat and industry.
Equinor executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing, Irene Rummelhoff, said hydrogen and CCS “can and must play a significant role” in decarbonising industry if the world is to limit the worst effects of climate change. “With private and public investment and supportive UK policy”, she added, “the H2H Saltend project will demonstrate the potential of these technologies.”
Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, is also part of the consortium of gas companies hoping to build hydrogen and CCS infrastructure in Leeds and Teesside.
However, those companies will need significant support in order to de-risk the development, finance and operation of infrastructure that is as yet unproven at scale. A hybrid structure with billpayer and taxpayer support has been mooted.
Gas firms have urged the UK to set out a robust hydrogen strategy, pointing to Germany’s comprehensive plans. The EU is expected to set out a bloc-wide hydrogen strategy next week. Failure to set out a strategy and enabling investment framework will see the UK fall behind other countries, the group argues.
See Equinor’s release here.