The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has awarded £13 million to fund two world-first hydrogen projects led by the HyNet consortium in the North West. The first is a low carbon hydrogen project, involving Johnson Matthey as technology provider, SNC-Lavalin as project delivery specialists and Essar Oil UK as owner and operator. The second project, to conduct live trials of hydrogen fuelling, includes regional businesses Unilever, Essar Oil UK and Pilkington. Both HyNet projects are led by developer Progressive Energy.
The project to develop the UK’s first low carbon hydrogen plant at Essar Oil UK’s Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port, has been awarded £7.5 million. The plant will produce 3 TWh of low carbon hydrogen – double the UK’s total current production of biomethane – which will be provided to industrial and eventually domestic customers in the region. The facility will deliver low cost, low carbon hydrogen at scale and high efficiency, and with a very high carbon capture rate – over 95% of the carbon used in the process will be captured and stored, thanks to carbon capture technology. When operational, the facility will capture 600 000 tpy of CO2 – the equivalent of taking over 250 000 cars off the road.
Hydrogen will be distributed by way of a new pipeline network under development by Cadent, which will also provide the pathway for renewable hydrogen once costs come down in the future. The funding will also deliver the front-end engineering design (FEED) of the plant, providing a reference design for the facility to be replicated across the UK and internationally.
HyNet has also received £5.2 million to fund live trials of hydrogen fuelling at Unilever’s Port Sunlight manufacturing site, which produces many of the UK’s home care and personal care products, and at Pilkington’s Greengate Works glass-making plant in St Helens.
In St Helens, the use of hydrogen in the glass-making process will be a global first, while the demonstration at Unilever’s Port Sunlight will be the first meaningful use of hydrogen in a commercial scale boiler. The project also includes a FEED study for a new 100% hydrogen-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant, using gas turbines, at Essar’s Stanlow refinery. Evidence from the demonstrations will pave the way for conversion to low carbon hydrogen across a range of global industries.
The projects will aim to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used as a substitute fuel for natural gas in manufacturing processes, helping the companies’ transition to a low-carbon future and leading the way for others to follow.
Mark Wilson, CEO at Essar Oil UK said: “We are excited to be part of this initiative and believe we have the facilities and technological skills to help deliver the project. The construction of the hydrogen facility at Stanlow is the first stage in becoming a carbon neutral site and will support our long term ambition of remaining a key national supplier of energy to the UK as we move towards a zero carbon world.”