Progressive Energy and Essar Oil, which owns and operates the Stanlow Refinery in Ellesmere Port, have set up a joint venture to produce hydrogen at the refinery. Eventually investment of approximately £750M will be committed to produce enough hydrogen to meet Essar’s own demand and deliver it to other industries across the region’s so-called ‘HyNet’ cluster.
Stanlow produces 16% of the UK’s road transport fuels, and the refinery processes 10Mt of crude and feedstocks annually. In the ‘hydrogen hub’, natural gas, and fuel gases from the refinery, will be converted into hydrogen, while carbon dioxide produced during the conversion will be captured and stored in sub-surface reservoirs in Liverpool Bay.
The first hydrogen hub will produce 3TWh of hydrogen each year from 2025. A follow-on facility will produce 6TWh annually. Further capacity growth is planned to reach 80% of the government’s new target of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen for power, transport, industry and homes by 2030.
The project will use Johnson Matthey’s Low Carbon Hydrogen (LCH™) technology. Johnson Matthey claims its process captures over 95% of CO2 at lower cost than conventional steam methane reforming technology. The partners said that with SNC-Lavalin, engineering is well advanced, with funding provided by the UK government’s hydrogen supply competition – the project was awarded £7.5M in February 2020, along with £5.2M to conduct live trials of hydrogen fuelling with regional businesses Unilever and Pilkington as well as Essar Oil UK. The new agreement between Essar and Progressive Energy provides the basis to take the project through final development and into construction and operation.
Chris Manson-Whitton, director at Progressive Energy, said: “We cannot reach net zero without decarbonising industry. Today brings a key milestone in that journey as Progressive Energy and Essar Oil UK sign a Memorandum of Understanding setting out how we will work together to deliver this exciting project at Stanlow Refinery.”
Stein Ivar Bye, chief executive, Essar Oil UK, said: “HyNet and hydrogen production is integral to Stanlow’s strategy and will set it on a journey to be the UK’s first net zero emission refinery with the ambition to avoid emissions of over 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per year, the equivalent of taking nearly a million cars off the road.
“With the support from government to establish the appropriate business incentives, together with Progressive Energy, we are committed to undertaking the development and the financing of its construction.”