Construction to begin soon on largest blue hydrogen plant in UK

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Construction on the first phase of the largest blue hydrogen plant in the UK is set to begin soon following approval from local planning authorities at Cheshire West and Chester (CWAC). The billion-dollar plant will be located at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex in Ellesmere Port, North-west England. The first phase of construction involves constructing a pant with a capacity of 350MW. The second phase is expected to add an additional pant with a capacity of 700MW. This brings the total capacity to just over 1GW. A final investment decision (FID) has, however, not been made yet but is scheduled to be come to this year.

Project team

Essar Energy Transition (EET), a joint venture between Essar Oil UK, a refining giant, and Progressive Energy, a hydrogen specialist, is the project developer. It has pledged to spend $1bn on the first phase of the plant. Additionally, it hopes to ramp up to 4GW by 2030. Late last year, KBR was awarded the front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for the project. Local companies including Essar, Tata Chemicals, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Encirc and Pilkington will be the customers of the produced hydrogen.

Details on the largest blue hydrogen plant in the UK

By using the hydrogen to displace fossil fuels in manufacturing and industrial processes, some 2.5 million tons of CO2e emissions can be mitigated each year, according to EET. The two plants will be capable of converting natural gas and fuel gasses from the existing Stanlow Refinery into hydrogen. A proportion of the process emissions will be addressed with carbon capture technologies.

Construction is expected to take no less than 3 years. First production set for 2027 from the first plant. The project marks a key pillar of the HyNet industrial decarbonization cluster. EET Hydrogen is aiming to capture up to 97 per cent of the CO2 from the process, according to planning documents. The captured hydrogen then be stored permanently in depleted gas fields under Liverpool Bay.

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HyNet Northwest has been selected by the UK government as one of its two priority industrial decarbonization cluster for projects it is supporting as part of its broader ambition to use CCS technology to capture and store 20 to 30 million tons of CO2 per year by 2030. Italian oil giant Eni’s carbon transport and subsea sequestration facilities in the Irish Sea is the second project. In addition, other smaller CCUS providers, who have until March 2024 to apply to join the cluster.

The H2M Eemshaven low-carbon hydrogen project

This week, Equinor, a Norwegian energy giant also signed a project development agreement with Linde, a global industrial gases and engineering company to work as partners on the H2M Eemshaven low-carbon hydrogen project in the Netherlands. The 1GW blue hydrogen project is expected to produce nearly 210,000 tons of blue hydrogen made with fossil gas per year. Production is scheduled to begin in 2028 with gas for the scheme to be sourced from Norway.

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