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Leading energy companies launch new Humber Hydrogen Hub projects in Parliament

Attendees at H2H Easington & Humber Hydrogen Hub launch
Left to right: John Johnson, SSE Thermal; Martin Scargill, Centrica Energy Storage; Dan Sadler, Equinor; Lord Callanan, Energy Minister; Graham Stuart MP, Beverley & Holderness; Martin Vickers MP, Cleethorpes.

Leading energy companies Equinor, Centrica and SSE Thermal have launched plans for a collaboration of multiple low carbon hydrogen projects on the north bank of the Humber which also link to wider plans within the region.

The plans, which include the transformation of the Easington gas terminal, were launched yesterday in the Houses of Parliament to an audience of MPs, civil servants, industry bodies and regional stakeholders. Lord Callanan, the Energy Minister responsible for Hydrogen and Carbon Capture policy, spoke at the event alongside Beverley & Holderness MP Graham Stuart and representatives from the Equinor, Centrica Energy Storage and SSE Thermal.

H2H Easington includes proposals by Equinor and Centrica to deliver a multi-stage green and blue hydrogen production facility which will scale up over time as a hydrogen economy develops. Since a co-operation agreement was signed between the two companies in 2022, detailed engineering studies have assessed projects which could produce up to 1.2GW of blue hydrogen production and up to 1GW of green hydrogen at Easington with initial projects commissioned by the end of the decade then expansion through the 2030s.

To unlock these ambitions, proposals for a green hydrogen electrolyser have been submitted to Government as part of the second Hydrogen Allocation Round process. If successful, this initial electrolytic hydrogen system would be operational by early 2029 and would fuel switch off-takers within the Easington terminal, displacing current natural gas demand and significantly reducing the site’s CO2 footprint by 100,000 tonnes per year. An immediate next step would include hydrogen for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), which is key to facilitating the energy transition in the aviation sector.

Such a transition would also safeguard many existing jobs within the historic gas terminal whilst creating new jobs and supply chain opportunities for the future. It is estimated that the 35-year economic impact of the green hydrogen proposals at Easington, including construction, operation and decommissioning of the facility, will be in the region of £1.5bn of gross value added, supporting thousands of jobs in the region.

In addition to the above, the partnership will also explore a dedicated hydrogen pipeline that would link H2H Easington to Equinor’s proposed H2H Saltend hydrogen production facility at Saltend Chemicals Park, and to Equinor and SSE Thermal’s proposed hydrogen storage facility at Aldbrough on the East Yorkshire Coast. Collectively, these projects form the Humber Hydrogen Hub.

Humber Hydrogen Hub
Humber Hydrogen Hub

Equinor and SSE Thermal are currently consulting on the proposals for hydrogen storage at the existing gas storage site near Aldbrough. The use of the geologically unique underground salt caverns for storage helps to balance the fluctuating supply and demand of a future hydrogen economy whilst improving energy security.

The 45km hydrogen pipeline proposals also include a crossing of the River Humber to provide connectivity between north and south banks, whilst there is also potential for connection to the ‘Project Union’ gas network to expand across the wider Humber region.

Decision makers from government departments including Energy Security & Net Zero, Business & Trade and Transport, joined the Government’s ‘Hydrogen Champion’, UK Research & Innovation and the Carbon Capture & Storage Association to listen to the new proposals. Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young MP, who is also a proactive advocate of hydrogen, was in attendance. The Humber region was represented by MPs Graham Stuart and Martin Vickers, as well as representatives from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Humber Chamber of Commerce and the Yorkshire & Humber CBI.

Graham Stuart MP, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness said:

“This is an exciting collection of projects which can help to deliver on the UK’s net zero goals and hydrogen targets whilst also supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda. I’m particularly proud to have such key strategic energy sites within my constituency that are attracting investment from large companies, creating new jobs for local people and supply chain opportunities for local businesses. It shows that East Yorkshire is an internationally renowned location for low carbon technologies, and this can only help to boost prosperity across the region.”

Dan Sadler, Director for Hydrogen at Equinor’s UK Low Carbon Solutions, said:

“The proposals we’ve set out today demonstrate the commitment to the decarbonisation of the Humber by three of the largest players in UK energy, each with a track record of delivering ambitious schemes that reflect the changing demands of our economy. This is a unique opportunity to link these key sites in the Humber, pairing hydrogen production with users and storage sites to create the foundational requirements for an expanding hydrogen economy throughout the 2030s and 40s. It will help to reduce emissions whilst also stimulating economic growth.”

Martin Scargill, Managing Director of Centrica Energy Storage, said:

“These projects will bring huge benefits to the Humber as we move forward to net zero. Working together, Centrica, Equinor and SSE Thermal will deliver this innovative, world leading, regional hydrogen system, that in time could see Rough connected to provide the UK with large scale, clean energy storage. We know that the UK will need to explore all possible options to meet its net zero target and these projects will support the country’s decarbonisation plans while creating jobs and certainty for the region’s industry in the future.”

John Johnson, Director of Development at SSE Thermal, said:

“Hydrogen projects like the ones we’re bringing forward at Aldbrough can help to deliver a low-carbon future for the Humber. We know that all roads to net zero lead through the region and this collaboration aims to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen by linking multiple key sites and projects in support of the UK’s decarbonisation efforts. Ultimately, the Humber Hydrogen Hub can be a key enabler of a thriving hydrogen economy.”