SSE Thermal and Equinor are developing plans for one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities at their existing Aldbrough site on the East Yorkshire coast. The facility could be storing low-carbon hydrogen as early as 2028.
The existing Aldbrough Gas Storage facility, which was commissioned in 2011, is co-owned by SSE Thermal and Equinor, and consists of nine underground salt caverns, each roughly the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Upgrading the site to store hydrogen would involve converting the existing caverns or creating new purpose-built caverns to store the low-carbon fuel.
With an initial expected capacity of at least 320GWh, Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage would be significantly larger than any hydrogen storage facility in operation in the world today. The Aldbrough site is ideally located to store the low-carbon hydrogen set to be produced and used in the Humber region.
Hydrogen storage will be vital in creating a large-scale hydrogen economy in the UK and balancing the overall energy system by providing back up where large proportions of energy are produced from renewable power. As increasing amounts of hydrogen are produced both from offshore wind power, known as ‘green hydrogen’, and from natural gas with carbon capture and storage, known as ‘blue hydrogen’, facilities such as Aldbrough will provide storage for low-carbon energy.
Equinor has announced its intention to develop 1.8GW of ‘blue hydrogen’ production in the region starting with its 0.6GW H2H Saltend project which will supply low-carbon hydrogen to local industry and power from the mid-2020s. This will be followed by a 1.2GW production facility to supply the Keadby Hydrogen Power Station, proposed by SSE Thermal and Equinor as the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power station, before the end of the decade.
SSE Thermal and Equinor’s partnership in the Humber marks the UK’s first end-to-end hydrogen proposal, connecting production, storage and demand projects in the region. While the Aldbrough facility would initially store the hydrogen produced for the Keadby Hydrogen Power Station, the benefit of this large-scale hydrogen storage extends well beyond power generation. The facility would enable growing hydrogen ambitions across the region, unlocking the potential for green hydrogen, and supplying an expanding offtaker market including heat, industry and transport from the late 2020s onwards.
Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage, and the partners’ other hydrogen projects in the region, are in the development stage and final investment decisions will depend on the progress of the necessary business models and associated infrastructure.
The Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage project is the latest being developed in a long-standing partnership between SSE Thermal and Equinor in the UK, which includes the joint venture to build the Dogger Bank Offshore Wind Farm, the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Thermal, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing our plans for the development of this world-leading hydrogen storage facility with our partners in Equinor, which would play a vital role in creating a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the Humber and beyond. By delivering large-scale hydrogen storage capacity, we can utilise hydrogen to decarbonise vital power generation, as well as heavy industry, heat, transport, and other hard-to-reach sectors, safeguarding and creating crucial jobs and investment across the region.”
Grete Tveit, Senior Vice President for Low Carbon Solutions at Equinor, said: “Hydrogen will be crucial for the UK to reach its net zero ambition. That’s why we are pleased to be working together with SSE Thermal on developing plans to store low-carbon hydrogen at the Aldbrough site, bringing us and our partners in Zero Carbon Humber closer to our joint ambition to support the Humber region to become the UK’s first net zero carbon cluster. Projects such as these are critical for efforts to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement and contributing to the UK’s goals to become a world leader in low carbon.”
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