London — Norway's Equinor said July 1 it is leading a project in the UK to develop one of the world's first "at-scale" facilities to produce hydrogen from natural gas in combination with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
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The project, called Hydrogen to Humber Saltend (H2H Saltend), supports the UK government's aim to establish at least one low-carbon industrial cluster by 2030 and the world's first net-zero cluster by 2040.
It will be located at Saltend Chemicals Park near the city of Hull and its initial phase comprises a 600 MW auto thermal reformer (ATR) with carbon capture, the largest plant of its kind in the world, to convert gas to hydrogen.
Equinor -- one of the biggest suppliers of gas to the UK -- said that subject to supportive government policy, it would mature the project toward a final investment decision during 2023 with potential first production by 2026.
Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing at Equinor, said that to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement there needed to be a "substantial" decarbonization of industry.
"We believe carbon capture and storage and hydrogen can and must play a significant role," Rummelhoff said.
"With private and public investment and supportive UK policy, the H2H Saltend project will demonstrate the potential of these technologies," she said.
Full hydrogen switch
Equinor said the project would enable industrial customers in the Saltend Chemicals Park to fully switch over to hydrogen, and the power plant in the park to move to a 30% hydrogen to natural gas blend.
As a result, emissions from Saltend Chemicals Park will reduce by nearly 900,000 mt/year of CO2, it said.
In its later phases, H2H Saltend is designed to expand to serve other industrial users in the park and across the Humber, contributing to the cluster reaching net zero by 2040.
"This will enable a large-scale hydrogen network, open to both blue hydrogen (produced from natural gas with CCS) and green hydrogen (produced from electrolysis of water using renewable power), as well as a network for transporting and storing captured CO2 emissions," it said.
Saltend Chemicals Park owner px Group said the project led by Equinor was a "significant step forward" in the transition to lower carbon production.
px took over the park, which produces more than 1 million mt/year of chemicals, from BP in 2018.
"px is committed to playing its part in this important development and shares the vision of creating a world-beating decarbonized industrial cluster on the Humber Estuary," px CEO Geoff Holmes said.
Equinor sees CCS as a critical route to a lower-carbon future. In May, Equinor and its partners took a final investment decision on Northern Lights, Europe's first commercial-scale carbon transportation and storage project off the coast of Norway.
If the Norwegian government makes a positive FID in 2020, the first phase is expected to be operational by 2024, Equinor said.
In 2018 Equinor, Northern Gas Networks and Cadent, also published the H21 North of England report showing how blue hydrogen could be produced and supplied across the north of England.
Equinor is also a partner in the Net Zero Teesside development, which proposes to build a new-build gas-fired power station with carbon capture, and extending the CCS infrastructure to the neighboring industrial cluster.