Energy companies join forces to create low carbon future for the Humber region

Equinor, Centrica and SSE Thermal have launched plans for a collaboration of multiple low carbon hydrogen projects on the north bank of the Humber.

The plans, which include the transformation of the Easington gas terminal, were launched in the Houses of Parliament to an audience of MPs, civil servants, industry bodies and regional stakeholders.

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.

If successful, this 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 cutting 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 safeguard existing jobs within the gas terminal while creating new jobs and supply chain opportunities for the future.

In addition to the above, the partnership will 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.

Equinor and SSE Thermal are currently consulting on the proposals for hydrogen storage at the existing gas storage site near Aldbrough. The storage would help balance the fluctuating supply and demand of a future hydrogen economy while improving energy security.

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

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.”

Dan Sadler, director for hydrogen at Equinor’s UK Low Carbon Solutions, said: “The proposals we’ve set out 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 reduce emissions while 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.

“We know 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, added: “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.”