Above: Saltend Chemicals Park (source: px Group)


The proposal by the Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) Partnership is said to be “a first step to creating the world’s first net zero industrial cluster”, by 2040, and will support clean growth in the north-east of England. The bid, announced on 7 October, for Phase Two funding from the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, builds on a successful application for Phase One funding which was announced in April.

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

The bid centres around two elements, the first being the Equinor-led H2H Saltend (Hydrogen to Humber Saltend) hydrogen project at Saltend Chemicals Park (owned and operated by px Group) near the city of Hull. H2H Saltend includes what is projected to be “the largest plant of its kind in the world” to convert natural gas to hydrogen, combining a 600 MW autothermal reformer with carbon capture.

This will enable industrial customers in the Park to switch to hydrogen, including Triton Power’s 1200 MW combined cycle plant, which is contemplating a move to 30% hydrogen.

The second element is a hydrogen and carbon dioxide pipeline network developed by National Grid Ventures that aims to link H2H Saltend to other industrial sites in the Humber region, enabling them in turn to fuel switch to hydrogen or capture their emissions. These sites include Drax power station (which is developing bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS)), SSE Thermal’s Keadby site, Uniper’s Killingholme site and British Steel at Scunthorpe.

“We believe in the necessity of hydrogen and carbon capture to clean up heavy industry which is required to reach net zero targets.

The technologies are proven and it’s now a question of putting them together. We and our partners have made great progress in our plans to decarbonise the Humber, through working with and learning from each other and also in engaging with national and local stakeholders. We are convinced that by continuing to work together we can make this happen,” says Grete Tveit, Equinor senior vice president for low carbon solutions.

CO2 emissions from H2H Saltend and the other Humber sites will be transported by pipeline to Easington on the Yorkshire coast and then offshore to permanent storage under the southern North Sea on the UK continental shelf (Endurance aquifer).

A consortium of energy companies, including Equinor, is working to develop the offshore transport and storage infrastructure, and this network will be shared with the Teesside industrial cluster, where Equinor is also a partner in the Net Zero Teesside decarbonisation project.

The total size of the ZCH proposal is GBP 75 million, comprising private and public funding. The funds will be used to progress work towards a final investment decision during 2023 with H2H Saltend and the associated infrastructure potentially coming online in 2026.