Government body UK Research & Innovation has committed £33m to the North West hydrogen and carbon capture storage project, while consortium partners pledged a further £39m.
The funding will allow HyNet North West to accelerate to a final investment decision in 2023 for the initial phase, and become operational in 2025.
Further elements of the hydrogen cluster project will follow, resulting in the distribution of up to 30TWh per year of low carbon hydrogen being distributed by 2030 – enough to displace 45% of natural gas used across the region, the partnership said.
HyNet North West has been under development for four years with work so far including extensive engineering studies and demonstration projects. Elements of the project have secured various pots of funding, including £700,000 for a smart energy system secured in October, but this is the most significant milestone yet.
Environmental survey work, supported by funding from the Cheshire & Warrington LEP, has recently begun and consultation with stakeholders and public will start later this year as part of the planning process.
Partners in HyNet North West include Progressive Energy, Cadent, CF Fertilisers, Eni UK, Essar, Hanson, Inovyn (part of the Ineos group) and the University of Chester.
From 2025, HyNet North West will begin to convert natural gas into low carbon hydrogen at Essar’s Stanlow refinery, with carbon dioxide safely captured and stored offshore in the Liverpool Bay gas fields.
A new pipeline network will transport the clean hydrogen to power industry, fuel buses, trains and heavy goods vehicles, to generate electricity, and to heat homes across North West England and North Wales.
The intention is that HyNet North West will reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions by up to 10m tonnes every year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road. By then, HyNet North West alone will already be delivering 80% of the Government’s new UK-wide target of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen1 for power, transport, industry and homes.
David Parkin, director of Progressive Energy and HyNetNW project director, said: “We know we cannot reach net zero without decarbonising industry. HyNet North West is a game-changing project of strategic importance. It is uniquely developed to be low-cost and deliverable and will begin decarbonising the North West by 2025.
“Through the production of low carbon hydrogen and the capturing and storing of carbon dioxide, it offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create real change in how we produce and use our energy, establishing a cleaner world for future generations. It will unlock a low carbon future economy in North West England and North Wales.”
Cllr Louise Gittins, leader of Cheshire West & Chester Council, said the council has “an ambition to be at the heart of the UK’s leading decarbonisation cluster, and export skills and knowledge nationally and internationally to support global action on climate change”. The funding announcement follows news that CWAC has secured £5.8m from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.
Hynet was one of the projects highlighted at Place North West’s Decarbonising the North West event earlier this month as bring vital to the region’s prospects in the low-carbon economy.