Zero-carbon Humber cluster to rollout carbon capture and hydrogen production

Plans to create the world's first zero-carbon industrial cluster in the Humber region reached another milestone this week, as Phillips 66 and Uniper signed an agreement to deploy a carbon capture and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen production facility.

Plans are now in place to install CCS technologies at the VPI combined heat and power (CHP) plant

Plans are now in place to install CCS technologies at the VPI combined heat and power (CHP) plant

Last year, Drax, Equinor and National Grid published a roadmap fleshing out their plans to create the world's first zero-carbon industrial hub in the Humber region by 2040. The roadmap sets out proposals to build a demonstration hydrogen production facility in the region by 2025 and install carbon capture equipment on one of the four biomass units at Drax’s power station in Selby two years later.

The project, which had its first funding phase approved last month, has now outlined plans to introduce CCUS and hydrogen production.

Organisations involved in the project, including Phillips 66, Uniper and the VPI Immingham plant owned by Vitol, have entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build and operate a hybrid CCUS and hydrogen production facility by 2025.

Plans are now in place to install CCS technologies at the VPI combined heat and power (CHP) plant. Refineries owned by Total and Phillips 66 will also explore the use of the technology.

Uniper’s head of hydrogen Rene Schoof said: "The proximity to offshore infrastructure for natural gas supply and carbon storage coupled with access to offshore wind power for electrolysis enables this project to offer a great decarbonisation package, we are very much looking forward to working with the other partners to develop this." 

The companies involved include some of the largest businesses in the Humber region: Associated British Ports; Centrica Storage; Drax Group; Equinor; National Grid Ventures; Phillips 66; px Group; SSE Thermal; Saltend Cogeneration Company; VPI-Immingham LLP; and Uniper.

The project partners claim that the initiative will contribute £18bn towards UK Gross Value Added (GVA), while safeguarding 55,000 jobs in manufacturing across the region.

Under the 2050 net-zero ambition, the UK Government has committed to fully decarbonising at least one industrial cluster by 2040. This has spurred a race between clusters in the North West, Teesside, Humberside, Grangemouth, South Wales and Southampton to become the first to do so.

As part of the Industrial Clusters Missionthe Government opened two innovation funds in October aimed at helping businesses located in key industrial clusters to plan and deploy technology to help reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Up to £140m could be accessed by successful applicants. 

Elsewhere, BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total have all signed up to spearhead the development of the Net-Zero Teesside project, which focuses heavily on the use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS).

The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster, led by the University of Chester and Manchester Metropolitan University, will create a skills roadmap to develop the “complementary” skill sets of oil and gas works to harness new low-carbon technology such as hydrogen and carbon capture.

The Liverpool and Manchester mayors and Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are working with the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) to develop a decarbonised cluster that could deliver 33,000 jobs and save 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Matt Mace



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