Stanlow owner lands £7.2m grant

A project that forms part of Essar Oil UK’s plans to decarbonise the Ellesmere Port refinery site has secured backing from the Government’s Industrial Energy Transformation Fund.

The funding has been made available through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and will be invested in a project to install a new furnace in the crude distillation unit at Stanlow, able to run on a 100% hydrogen fuel source.

Support from BEIS represents a major boost for Essar. The Indian-owned company, which bought the 2,000-acre Stanlow refinery from Shell in 2011, was led in April to affirm its commitment to the site following reports of financial troubles.

The furnace will use hydrogen produced by the HyNet North West hydrogen cluster project at Stanlow, with the first stage of the initiative set to come on stream in 2025.

Essar said that once completed and operational, the net zero-ready furnace will reduce Stanlow’s CO2 emissions by 11% per year and deliver immediate energy efficiency improvements. Two blue hydrogen production hubs are being bult at Stanlow as part of the HyNet project.

HyNet has been in development over the last four years, with work so far including extensive engineering studies and demonstration projects. In March the project secured £72m in decarbonisation funding, £33m of it from UK Research & Innovation, the remainder from project partners.

Essar has also this year announced plans to create a new facility to convert non-recyclable household waste into sustainable aviation fuel. The £600m project involves Essar Oil UK, Fulcrum BioEnergy and Essar’s subsidiary company Stanlow Terminals.

Essar chief operating officer Jon Barden said: “This year has been about beginning to execute the strategy we’ve put in place to decarbonise Stanlow and position the site as a provider of sustainable fuels for the future.

“The investment into CD4, alongside the HyNet and Fulcrum projects, demonstrates our commitment to developing low carbon operations, with the ambition of becoming a net zero site by 2040.

“The funding from BEIS is an endorsement of the steps we’re taking, as well as a signal of the Government’s intent to transform the North West into a clean energy hub supporting jobs and economic growth for years to come.”

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