If the UK is going to meet its net zero target, then industrial processes must become low carbon. Failure to decarbonise industrial processes will result in the loss of industrial capacity and associated jobs.
Low carbon hydrogen will be important in decarbonising industrial processes that would be harder or more expensive to abate through other measures such as electrification. Low carbon hydrogen can also provide an alternative to natural gas and other high carbon fuels currently used for industrial heating.
The largest potential demand for low carbon hydrogen by 2030 is in chemicals and steel. There is also potential for low carbon hydrogen to be used in metals and minerals, food and drink, paper and pulp, ceramics, glass and oil refineries.
Having affordable, low carbon hydrogen will in turn enable new industries to develop. Examples include the manufacture of hydrogen-powered aircraft and container ships.
And in the long term, cheap, low carbon hydrogen will enable entrepreneurs and innovators to experiment with other potential applications, creating economic growth and new jobs.
Members of Hydrogen UK are leading projects to examine and improve the feasibility of hydrogen in industrial processes. There are more than a dozen hydrogen projects under development in the UK.
Equinor’s H2H Saltend project will see the construction of a 600MW Auto Thermal Reformer (ATR) with carbon capture to produce blue hydrogen from natural gas.
The project is Equinor’s kick-starter project to help decarbonise the UK’s largest industrial emitting region, the Humber, with the hydrogen going to industrial users and Triton Power’s Saltend Cogeneration Station.
Triton’s 1,200MW combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) combined heat and power (CHP) station with Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) turbines will switch to a 30% hydrogen blend by 2026, significantly reducing emissions associated with power and steam production. It could be the UK’s first CCGT to blend and burn significant volumes of hydrogen.
When it becomes operational at the end of 2026, H2H Saltend will contribute 12% of the UK’s target 5GW of clean hydrogen capacity by 2030 and cut CO2 emissions by 900,000 tonnes each year.
Equinor intends to build on this by tripling its hydrogen production in the Humber by 2030 to further grow the regional low-carbon economy.
H2H Saltend will support employment in the region with the construction and operation of the plant, as well as jobs in production, transportation, storage and marketing.
The project, as part of the Zero Carbon Humber partnership, has been awarded funding by UK Research & Innovation to progress through its front-end engineering and development (FEED) stage.