Green hydrogen made on site is set to heat boilers at UK factories making Kleenex, Andrex & Huggies paper products, under an initiative launched by Octopus & RES, the world’s biggest independent clean energy developer.

The power duo announced this morning that HYRO, their £3 billion joint venture introducing the clean gas to industrial users, is now committed to replace conventional gas heating at paper multinational Kimberly-Clark’s factories at Northfleet, Kent, pictured, and in Wales.

Octopus and RES formed HYRO to foster on-site electrolysis of hydrogen by manufacturers relying on processes feared too difficult to strip of carbon, or who for other reasons find the leap from gas to electric heat too hard.

Via a power purchase agreement signed two years ago, Kimberly-Clark already sources clean electricity from Octopus’ new Cumberhead wind farm in the Scots Borders, which began generating this year. The supplier’s generation arm manages Cumberhead on behalf of ORIT, its infrastructure trust.

Separated by more than a hundred miles, HYRO’s electrolysers at the two Kimberly-Clark plants will have a combined capacity of 22.5 MW. They will offer a chance to strip thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions every year from the multinational’s carbon footprint in Britain.

Government backing for HYRO has followed.  A D-ESNZ unit has approved the Kimberly-Clark implementation to enter due diligence for Whitehall’s first electrolytic hydrogen allocation round.

Policy makers intend such grant-giving to scale up green hydrogen, pushing the new technology’s upfront costs lower, and thus shrinking the barriers facing firms who want to opt for lower carbon heat.

Local planners’ say-so is needed before engineers can strip out the paper-maker’s conventionally fired boilers. The two projects will shortly go out to public consultation.

As well its links to Kimberly-Clark, HYRO has a third project shortlisted under the Whitehall funding mechanism, intended to decarbonise production at a whisky distillery in the Highlands.

“Well-loved household brands will soon be manufactured with green hydrogen instead of polluting gas”, predicted Alex Brierley, co-head of Octopus Energy Generation’s fund management team.

“For heavy industries unable to electrify, hydrogen produced from home-grown clean energy like wind and solar can be a  winning solution. We hope more businesses follow their lead to a future without fossil fuels,” Brierley added.

Rachel Ruffle, RES’s boss for Europe, said: “HYRO’s partnership with Kimberly-Clark demonstrates how we can transition to clean fuels, creating jobs, investment, and a globally competitive economy in the process.”


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