Climate Action

Plans unveiled for world-leading hydrogen plant in the UK

Norwegian energy company Equinor is working on a project to build a hydrogen and carbon capture storage facility near the city of Hull, UK.

  • 21 July 2020
  • Joana Costa Figueira

Norwegian energy company Equinor is working on a project to build a hydrogen and carbon capture storage facility near the city of Hull, UK.

The project’s first phase includes the 600MW auto thermal reformer (ATR) with carbon capture to convert natural gas to hydrogen.

Announced earlier this month, the project called Hydrogen to Humber Saltend (H2H Saltend), will provide the beginnings of a decarbonised industrial cluster in the Humber region, the UK’s largest by emissions.

The Humber region is currently the biggest emitter of carbon in Britain and the second-highest emitter in Europe. If Equinor’s plan goes ahead, it would amount to a green revolution at Saltend, allowing businesses on the site to convert to clean energy. If the rest of the region follows suit, by 2030 it could be one the world’s leading green energy hubs.

The project will enable industrial customers in the Park to fully switch to hydrogen, as well as converting the Park’s power plant to a 30 percent hydrogen to natural gas blend. As a result, emissions will reduce by nearly 900,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Equinor hopes to produce both blue and green hydrogen in Hull. Blue hydrogen can be made almost entirely carbon-free from natural gas, by using the capture and storage technology. Green hydrogen is made from renewable sources, bypassing fossil fuels altogether. Both types can be stored and kept in reserve, to be deployed as an inter-seasonal fuel supplementing wind and solar power.

“This is a plan,” said Al Cook, the head of Equinor’s English operations, “which would help transform the UK’s largest industrial cluster into its greenest cluster. Saltend is one of the oldest industrial hubs of its kind. Humberside has all the natural resources required on its doorsteps. It is a chance for the UK to get on the front foot in green energy race.”

Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice President for Marketing, Midstream and Processing at Equinor, said: “We believe carbon capture & storage and hydrogen can and must play a significant role” in achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

In its later phases, H2H Saltend will expand to serve other industrial users in the Park and across Humber, which employs 55,000 people in the manufacturing sector alone, contributing to the cluster reaching net zero by 2040. An estimated 43,000 new job opportunities in energy-intensive industrial sectors across the UK could be created by switching to hydrogen.