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Zero Carbon Humber Partnership submits £75 million bid to advance UK’s first net zero industrial cluster

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Twelve leading companies and organisations across the Humber have jointly submitted a bid worth around £75 million to accelerate decarbonisation in the UK’s most carbon intensive industrial region.

The Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) Partnership brings together international energy companies, heavy industry, leading infrastructure and logistics operators, global engineering firms and academic institutions.

Its aim is to create the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040 through low carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and negative emissions, known as carbon removal technology.

Shared infrastructure, including a pipeline, means hydrogen can be transported to industrial customers, while carbon dioxide from power generation and industrial emitters can be permanently storage in an offshore aquifer below the seabed in the UK’s Southern North Sea.

ZCH claims it could reduce the UK’s annual emissions by 15% and save industry around £27.5 billion in carbon taxes by 2040.

It’s also thought that through the safeguarding of heavy industry in the region, 55,000 existing jobs can be preserved, while also developing thousands of new STEM roles.

The ZCH Partnership includes Associated British Ports, British Steel, Centrica Storage Ltd, Drax Group, Equinor, Mitsubishi Power, National Grid Ventures, px Group, SSE Thermal, Saltend Cogeneration Company Limited, Uniper, and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

It has applied funding from Phase 2 of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, which forms part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Significant investment will also come from the companies within the Partnership.

It follows the Humber’s successful application for Phase One funding, which was announced in April.

The bid’s anchor project is the Equinor-led Hydrogen to Humber (H2H) Saltend project, which will establish the world’s largest hydrogen production plant with carbon capture at px Group’s Saltend Chemicals Park.

The scheme will convert natural gas to hydrogen and capture the carbon dioxide and could reduce emissions by circa 900,000 tonnes per year.

A pipeline network, developed by National Grid Ventures, will link H2H Saltend to energy-intensive industrial sites throughout the region, enabling further decarbonisation as additional businesses switch to low carbon hydrogen and capture their CO2 emissions.

The CO2 will be compressed at Centrica Storage’s Easington site and stored under the Southern North Sea using offshore infrastructure shared with the Teesside industrial cluster.

The private and public bid for funding covers obtaining land rights, development consents and front-end engineering design, enabling the scheme to move towards a final investment decision on construction during 2023 – it is expected to come online around 2026.

Site map.

Greg McKenna, chief executive of Centrica Storage said: “At Centrica Storage we own and operate the Easington terminal which processes gas from the Southern North Sea before being injected into the National transmission system.

“We are a partner in the Zero Carbon Humber bid as we believe this project represents a vital opportunity for the UK to decarbonise its industrial sectors with the Humber representing the largest CO2 emitting cluster in the country.

“Our business is experienced in delivering large infrastructure projects in the Easington area, having managed multiple third-party pipeline landings including the construction and operation of Langeled gas receiving facility which meets 20% of the UK’s gas demand. We look forward to supporting this project and the opportunity this provides for the UK to meet its net zero obligations by 2050.”

Will Gardiner, Drax chief executive, said: “Advancing the Zero Carbon Humber plan is a major opportunity to decarbonise the UK’s most carbon-intensive industrial region – protecting jobs, tackling climate change and helping this uniquely well-placed area to deliver clean growth after Covid.

“Drax’s pioneering work developing bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) could deliver 16 million tonnes of negative emissions a year – critical for the Humber’s efforts to reach net zero and also positioning the UK as a world leader in a vital carbon removals technology that will be needed globally to meet climate targets.

“BECCS is the most cost-effective negative emissions technology available now and uniquely – it also produces flexible, renewable electricity – demand for which will grow as the economy further decarbonises.”

Al Cook, executive vice president and country manager at Equinor said: “The Zero Carbon Humber bid demonstrates the ambitious action needed to drive a low carbon recovery and reach net zero. This proposal, supported by a broad group of companies, will bring huge benefits to the Humber economy, protecting and creating jobs and reducing emissions.

“As the UK’s leading supplier of energy, Equinor has been contributing to reducing emissions from power with our natural gas and offshore wind. The H2H Saltend project at the centre of this bid will both demonstrate the value of hydrogen and carbon capture across the wider energy system, and unlock the transformation of the Humber into the UK’s largest and greenest industrial cluster.

“We and our partners will continue to progress our proposals, working closely with key stakeholders. Together we can make the Humber and the UK the environmental standard bearer that the world can learn from.”

Jon Butterworth, managing director of National Grid Ventures said: “National Grid sits at the heart of the energy system, and we want to play our full role in supporting the UK’s economic recovery through innovating and investing in strategic infrastructure solutions to support a net zero future.

“The Humber region offers unmatched potential to protect and grow jobs and decarbonise the UK’s largest industrial heartland.  A key to unlocking that potential will be to deliver the transport and storage infrastructure that will incentivise industrial emitters to adopt carbon capture technology.

“We are committed to working with our partners across the Humber region, leveraging our knowledge and experience of gas and electricity transmission infrastructure, and our experience of working on previous CCS projects, to accelerate the development of CCUS in the Humber and across the UK.”

Geoff Holmes, CEO of px Group said: “px Group is delighted to be at the heart of the H2H Saltend bid, a truly revolutionary and exciting project that puts Saltend and the Humber at the heart of the UK energy transition.

“Saltend Chemicals Park, in the UK’s Energy Estuary, is perfectly positioned to be a key driving force behind the UK’s switch from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener, energy – a national priority.”

“Saltend Chemicals Park is already home to several world-class chemicals and renewable energy businesses.  Integration and connectivity creates synergies and innovation within the park cluster. We’re looking forward to achieving the same with all the partners involved in the H2H Saltend and Zero Carbon Humber ISCF bid.”

Stephen Wheeler, managing director of SSE Thermal said: “We know the Humber has the potential to lead the way in the UK’s transition to a net-zero future, and it’s essential we’re working together across the various industries in the region to turn this vision into a reality.

“For SSE Thermal’s part, we’re looking to develop a clean power hub for the region in North Lincolnshire, with Keadby 3 as the UK’s first gas-fired power station equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.

“Through the development of shared CCS and hydrogen infrastructure, the Zero Carbon Humber Partnership can help drive a clean industrial revolution across the Humber and wider regions, stimulating billions of pounds in private investment and supporting thousands of high-quality jobs.”

Mick Farr, president and chief operating officer of Triton Power said: “Triton Power is delighted to support the next step of the energy transition. Our combined heat and power business at the Saltend Chemicals Park is integral to the ISCF bid and the H2H project.

“We have an experienced team, flexible assets and the technology necessary to make the fuel switch to hydrogen. We are proud to be part of the collaborating team where we have seen real engagement and a ‘can do’ spirit between partners.

“As a northerner, being able to deliver a compelling opportunity for our region that will have both local and national lasting effects is immensely satisfying and I really hope that this vision is transparent to government.”

The ZCH projects are supported by the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which models the wider economic and supply chain opportunities in the UK provided by these new technologies.

Ben Morgan, Research Director at the institution, said: “We are excited to be part of the Zero Carbon Humber project. Bound by a common objective of reducing carbon emissions across Yorkshire and the Humber we bring to the project a wealth of experience in advanced manufacturing innovation and supply chain development.

“As part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, we have strong partner networks and proven supplier engagement models which will enable the ZCH project to anchor large sections of this nascent industry supply-chain in the UK. This in turn will provide long term sustainable wealth and support levelling up of the UK economy.”

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