In the fast race between oil giants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, BP announced on March 18 it is developing plans for the UK’s largest blue hydrogen production facility, targeting 1GW of hydrogen production by 2030. The project could help the UK government’s ambitious target for the country to be the world’s first major economy to be net zero by 2050.

Blue hydrogen is produced by converting natural gas into hydrogen and CO₂, which is then captured and permanently stored.

The project would capture and send for storage up to two million tonnes of CO₂ per year, equivalent to capturing the emissions from the heating of one million UK households, based on data from the UK’s Climate Change Committee.

UK Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan noted that driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen is a key part of the UK Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and the government’s Energy White Paper and can play an important part in helping the UK end its contribution to climate change by 2050. “Clean hydrogen has huge potential to help us fully decarbonise across the UK and it is great to see bp exploring its full potential on Teesside,” BP quoted Trevelyan as saying in a press release.

The proposed development, H2Teesside, would be a significant step in developing ‎BP’s hydrogen business and make a major contribution to the UK Government’s target of developing 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030, BP said, noting that with close proximity to North Sea storage sites, pipe corridors and existing operational hydrogen storage and distribution capabilities, the area is uniquely placed for H2Teesside to help lead a low carbon transformation, supporting jobs, regeneration and the revitalisation of the surrounding area. Industries in Teesside account for over 5% of the UK’s industrial emissions and the region is home to five of the country’s top 25 emitters.

“Clean hydrogen is an essential complement to electrification on the path to net zero,” Dev Sanyal, BP’s executive vice president of gas and low carbon energy said, adding that blue hydrogen, integrated with carbon capture and storage, can provide the scale and reliability needed by industrial processes. It can also play an essential role in decarbonising hard-to-electrify industries and driving down the cost of the energy transition, Sanyal said. “H2Teesside, together with NZT and NEP, has the potential to transform the area into one of the first carbon neutral clusters in the UK, supporting thousands of jobs and enabling the UK’s Ten Point Plan,” he said.

Sanyal said the project would be located in Teesside in north-east England and, with a final investment decision (FID) in early 2024, could begin production in 2027 or earlier. BP has begun a feasibility study into the project to explore technologies that could capture up to 98% of carbon emissions from the hydrogen production process.

With large-scale, low cost production of clean hydrogen, H2Teesside could support the conversion of surrounding industries to use hydrogen in place of natural gas, playing an important role in decarbonizing a cluster of industries in Teesside.

H2Teesside would be integrated with the region’s already-planned Net Zero Teesside (NZT) and Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) projects, both of which are led by bp as operator.

The project’s hydrogen output could provide clean energy to industry and residential homes, be used as a fuel for heavy transport and support the creation of sustainable fuels, including bio and e-fuels, BP said.

The project would be developed in stages, with an initial 500MW of blue hydrogen capacity in production by 2027 or earlier and additional capacity to be deployed by 2030 as decarbonisation of the industrial cluster and hydrogen demand gathers pace. bp sees potential for further hydrogen demand in Teesside beyond 2030.

Hydrogen Europe General Jorgo Chatzimarkakis said the announcement of BP shows that Hydrogen has become systemic and real with regards to the energy transition. “Transition is in full swing,” he told New Europe on March 19. The best example of a very successful transition is the former Danish oil and gas company DONG which has become today the biggest producer of offshore wind in the world and is called Ørsted,” Chatzimarkakis added.

Last year, BP and Ørsted signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to work together to develop a ‎project in Germany for industrial-scale production of green hydrogen, made by the electrolysis of water using ‎renewable power.

Aiming to accelerate the development of the hydrogen cluster, BP has made a number of agreements with possible partners.

BP has agreed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Venator, one of the largest global producers of titanium dioxide pigments and performance additives, to scope the supply of clean hydrogen to its flagship Teesside plant.

BP has also agreed an MoU with Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the gas distributor for the North of England, to work together to initiate decarbonisation of the gas networks in the UK, helping to further decarbonise both industrial customers and residential homes through its gas network.

“It’s fantastic to see BP planning to invest in hydrogen production at Teesside, placing our region at the forefront of a green recovery,” NGN CEO Mark Horsley said. “Ahead of COP 26 in November, collaborations such as this demonstrate the scale of the ambition to meet the net zero challenge and support the UK’s transition to a zero-carbon energy system. We’re very excited to be working with bp to explore further the potential of a hydrogen gas network to play a lead role in industrial and domestic heat decarbonization,” he added.

Separately, BP has also signed an MoU with Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) to explore the potential for green hydrogen in the region, including the development of Teesside as the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub, as announced by the UK’s Department for Transport in September 2020. Green hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water, powered by renewable energy.

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