Region’s low-carbon energy cluster scoops funding

A project to map out the UK’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040, located in the North West and incorporating the HyNet hydrogen and carbon capture storage plant near Ellesmere Port, has received Government grants to spur its delivery.

The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster spans Cheshire, parts of North East Wales, Warrington, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.

The initiative is led by a consortium including Peel Environmental, part of developer Peel Land & Property; clean energy firm Progressive Energy; the University of Chester; Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership; Mersey Dee Energy; North West Business Leadership Team, and the Liverpool City Region Growth Company.

A total of £120,000 has been awarded to fund the first phase of the roadmap, comprising £36,000 from the Government’s UK Research & Innovation institute and £74,000 from industry and academia, the consortium said this week.

The roadmap will seek to identify the projects, technologies and strategic infrastructure required across the region to drive future investment in energy projects that aim to save 10 million tonnes of carbon from the region per year.

The consortium plans to lead a future funding bid for a share of £8m of Government-led grants later this year to finance the second phase of the initiative, to include more detailed feasibility and project mapping studies. Clean energy projects in Lancashire and Cumbria will also be considered.

A further £120,000 has been awarded to finance the first phase of the HyNet hydrogen and carbon capture project in Cheshire, a key part of the work being undertaken by the North West Hydrogen Alliance to develop a hydrogen economy in the region.

The HyNet low carbon hydrogen production plant, which is awaiting planning permission, would be built on a 160-acre site owned by Essar Oil UK, close to the company’s oil refinery in Stanlow.

The project has already received £13m from the Government to help finance its delivery and is viewed as a solution to delivering cleaner fuel to local manufacturing businesses including Unilever, Essar and Pilkington Glass.

This latest grant, comprising £75,000 from Government and £44,000 from industry, would help the HyNet delivery consortium, led by Progressive Energy and including Peel Environmental and others, pay for front-end engineering and design. A planning application is expected to be submitted later this year.

Once complete, the plant aims to produce 3 terawatt hours of low carbon hydrogen, double the amount of biomethane produced in the UK. The plant will also capture and store 95% of the carbon used in the process.

It will initially send power to industrial sites, and will later power domestic sites too.

Richard Carter, managing director of German chemicals company BASF, a member of the NWBLT, which he chairs, said: “The UK is locked into a net zero emissions target by 2050 and with industry accounting for a quarter of all emissions we urgently need a plan to decarbonise our industrial clusters.

“In the North West, our existing strengths in oil refining, chemical production and automotive manufacturing mean we’re ideally placed to develop solutions that can have a swift and significant impact.

“Businesses in the region are facing some of their most challenging times in decades. As we look to recovery, the clean growth agenda is going to be even more important, helping to secure the future of our industries, attract investment and deliver new jobs.”


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