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Equinor and SSE Thermal Aldbrough contract awards demonstrate Humber hydrogen ambition

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The Aldbrough gas storage facility
The Aldbrough gas storage facility.
(Photo: Stuart Nicol / Equinor ASA)

Hydrogen storage will be pivotal in creating a large-scale hydrogen economy in the UK allowing cost effective balancing of hydrogen production and supply.

Leading energy companies Equinor and SSE Thermal have awarded two key contracts for work on the proposed hydrogen storage facility at Aldbrough, reinforcing their commitment to kickstarting a low carbon hydrogen economy in the region.

Engineering company Atkins and sustainability consultancy Environmental Resources Management (ERM) have been awarded major contracts, representing an important milestone and progress in the proposed development of one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities.

The Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage project is a collaboration between Equinor and SSE Thermal which plans to store low carbon hydrogen either within the existing natural gas storage facility or at a new hydrogen storage site adjacent to the Aldbrough Gas Storage facility in East Yorkshire. This could be in operation by early 2028, with an initial expected capacity of at least 320 Gigawatt hours (GWh), which is enough to power over 860 hydrogen buses a year. Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage would be a critical asset to helping the UK meet its low carbon hydrogen ambitions.

Atkins has been awarded the contract to conduct a feasibility study to assess the design of the hydrogen storage caverns at Aldbrough as well as the corresponding pipeline to transport hydrogen to and from the proposed new Humber Low Carbon Pipelines (HLPC) being developed as part of the Zero Carbon Humber partnership. The outcome of the assessment will provide the foundation for the next phase of scoping work as the project matures. The contract also includes the option for subsequent pre-FEED (front end engineering design) work.

ERM’s contract covers the environmental, health, safety and permitting aspects of the scheme, which are vital to developing Equinor’s future ‘Hydrogen to Humber’ (H2H) ambitions and enabling flexibility in the regional hydrogen production, usage and storage value chain.

Hydrogen storage will be pivotal in creating a large-scale hydrogen economy in the UK allowing cost effective balancing of hydrogen production and supply. Hydrogen storage will support fuel switching in many sectors including flexible power generation alongside intermittent renewables, industrial use and heat. It will also support optimal production of both blue and green hydrogen production as the hydrogen economy grows, providing back-up where large proportions of energy are produced from renewable power.

The contract awards demonstrate the importance of the Humber region in the future hydrogen economy. Equinor, which operate hydrogen, carbon capture and renewables projects across Europe, have an ambition to reach 1.8GW of hydrogen production in the Humber, over a third of the Government’s UK-wide target by 2030. It recently announced plans to assess hydrogen town trials in Northern Lincolnshire, and its partnership with SSE Thermal in the Humber includes both Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage and the world’s first 100% hydrogen power station at Keadby.

Equinor’s flagship H2H Saltend project, which will produce low carbon hydrogen to help decarbonise and fuel switch the Saltend Chemicals Park, currently one of the region’s most carbon intensive sites is the kick-starter project for a wider hydrogen economy in Humber. The H2H Saltend scheme will be submitted to the second phase of the Government’s ‘Cluster Sequencing Process’ later this month.

Dan Sadler, Vice President of UK Low Carbon Solutions at Equinor, said:

“Equinor has ambitious plans to develop a hydrogen economy in the Humber, including production, usage and storage, which will make it an international beacon for low carbon energy. We are delighted to award contracts to two leading British companies that bring real expertise in their field and can help to make this ambition a reality.”

Oonagh O’Grady, Head of Hydrogen Development at SSE Thermal, said:

“We know hydrogen storage will be crucial in creating a large-scale hydrogen economy in the UK, balancing production and demand and accelerating the transition to net zero. The contracts awarded to Atkins and ERM represent an important milestone in our plans for hydrogen storage at Aldbrough, which would play a major role in building a low-carbon future in the Humber.”

For more information contact:
Erildas Budraitis
+44 7779972659

About Equinor

Equinor is the country’s leading energy provider, supplying natural gas, oil and electricity, and aims to reach net zero emissions globally by 2050. It is a leader in carbon capture & storage and hydrogen, developing the H2H Saltend low-carbon hydrogen production plant that is at the heart of the Zero Carbon Humber partnership.

It is collaborating with SSE Thermal on low-carbon power projects using hydrogen and carbon capture in the Humber and a further carbon capture power project in Scotland. It is partnering in the Net Zero Teesside power project and, as part of the Northern Endurance Partnership, it is developing CO2 transport and storage infrastructure for the East Coast Cluster, comprising the Humber and Teesside. Equinor’s UK activities also include operating offshore oil and gas fields and offshore wind farms, and its expansion plans include Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

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About SSE Thermal

SSE Thermal is responsible for SSE plc’s flexible generation and energy storage activities, with over 600 direct employees across the UK and Ireland. As part of its commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions, the business has a core focus on decarbonising its operations through carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen technology. In addition to the plans at Aldbrough, SSE Thermal is progressing plans with Equinor for two low-carbon power stations at Keadby in North Lincolnshire, and a further low-carbon power station at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. SSE Thermal is part of the FTSE-listed SSE plc, the UK’s leading generator of renewable energy and was a Principal Partner to the UK Government for COP26.

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About Atkins

Atkins is a world-leading design, engineering and project-management consultancy, seeking to make the world’s infrastructure work better. Using data-rich, virtual and collaborative technologies, Atkins helps clients to make better decisions for complex projects. Its approach and use of cutting-edge technology radically transforms projects and improves results across the entire lifecycle of an asset.

In industries ranging from healthcare and civil infrastructure to energy, housing and resilience, Atkins provides data-driven expertise that ensures projects are delivered on time and on budget, making the lived environment more human and sustainable.

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About ERM

ERM is the largest global pure play sustainability consultancy, partnering with the world’s leading organizations, creating innovative solutions to sustainability challenges and unlocking commercial opportunities that meet the needs of today while preserving opportunity for future generations.

Its diverse team of world-class experts supports clients across the breadth of their organizations to operationalize sustainability, underpinned by its deep technical expertise in addressing their environmental, health, safety, risk and social issues. This comprehensive service model allows ERM to develop strategic and technical solutions that advance objectives on the ground or at the executive level.

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