Progressive Energy will build what it claims is the UK’s first low carbon hydrogen plant on a 160-acre site owned by Essar Oil UK, close to Stanlow refinery, with an application expected this year.
The plant is one of two world-first projects which have received a total of £13m from the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. The schemes aim to demonstrate that hydrogen can be used as a replacement for natural gas.
The projects are being led by HyNet, a consortium which includes Peel L&P and the University of Chester, set up to facilitate the reduction of CO2 emissions in the North West.
Of the £13m, there will be £7.5m spent on the development of the Ellesmere Port plant which, when operational will capture 600,000 tonnes of CO2 a year; the equivalent of taking more than 250,000 cars off the road.
The energy produced will be provided to industrial customers initially before being rolled out to domestic customers in the region and will be distributed by way of a new pipeline network under development by Cadent.
A further £5.2m will go towards funding live trials of hydrogen fuelling at Unilever’s Port Sunlight manufacturing site in Wirral, and at Pilkington’s Greengate Works glass-making plant in St Helens.
David Parkin, director of Progressive Energy, a specialist developer of clean energy projects, said: “The Committee on Climate Change is absolutely clear that to deliver net zero, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage are going to be a necessity. This funding is hugely significant for the North West, and the rest of the UK, providing essential support for HyNet and taking hydrogen energy from aspiration to reality.”
Mark Wilson, chief executive of Essar Oil UK, said: “We 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.”
HyNet is made up of Essar, Pilkington, the University of Chester, Peel L&P, Eni, Cadent, SNC-Lavalin, Unilever, JM Energy Corporation, CF Industries and Progressive Energy.