£1bn investment pledged for Cheshire hydrogen production hub

Stanlow oil refinery

Oil refining group Essar has formed Vertex Hydrogen, a transformative new joint venture, with Progressive Energy, to build the UK’s largest hydrogen hub at the Stanlow manufacturing complex on the banks of the River Mersey.

A total investment of approximately £1bn will be committed to deliver the hydrogen production hub.

Led by Essar as the majority shareholder, Vertex Hydrogen has been formed to provide the catalyst for development of a hydrogen economy across North West England and North Wales, as a central part of the HyNet decarbonisation cluster.

HyNet is a major project in the region to generate, store and distribute hydrogen.

The initiative is a core part of a wider strategy by Essar globally to focus on investing in energy transition through the transformation of existing portfolio companies, and investments in new ventures.

The UK’s first low carbon hydrogen facility at Essar Stanlow will sit at the heart of the HyNet low carbon cluster, to produce a total of 1GW per year of hydrogen, across two units, from 2026. This is equivalent to the domestic heating energy used by a major British city region, such as Liverpool.

Waste fuel gases from Essar Stanlow, and natural gas, will be converted by Vertex Hydrogen into hydrogen, with carbon dioxide safely captured and stored by HyNet partner Eni SpA, underground offshore in Liverpool Bay.

The hydrogen production hub will provide low carbon energy to replace fossil fuels in industry across the HyNet region, as well as heating homes, and fuelling buses, trains and trucks.

The hydrogen produced will, in the first instance, be utilised by Essar to reduce its carbon footprint at the Stanlow complex. In addition, Vertex will also provide low carbon hydrogen to a wide range of businesses, including companies from the chemicals, ceramics, paper, glass and flexible power generation sectors, such as Tata Chemicals Europe, Encirc, InterGen, Solvay, Ingevity, Novelis, Glass Futures and Saica Paper – all having expressed interest already.

More widely in the region, companies such as Pilkington are demonstrating use of hydrogen in their facilities. Cadent Gas is also developing the UK’s first multi-user hydrogen distribution network within HyNet.

Prashant Ruia, Essar chairman, said: “Essar is massively committed to investing in energy transition and is building a portfolio of companies in this space. Vertex Hydrogen is a central component of that vision, which will be instrumental in helping create a hydrogen future for North West England and North East Wales. This will see over £1bn of investment, thereby creating jobs and supporting local communities for decades to come.”

Deepak Maheshwari, Essar chief executive, said: “Vertex Hydrogen is a critical investment for Essar in helping it achieve its vision of becoming the UK’s first low carbon refinery and supplying UK markets with the sustainable fuels of the future.”

Chris Manson-Whitton, director at Gloucester-based Progressive Energy, said: “As the founding developer of HyNet, we see the launch of Vertex Hydrogen as a key milestone. Vertex is central to unlocking the low carbon hydrogen economy, reducing emissions, creating a cleaner world for future generations whilst creating and safeguarding jobs.”

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