Energy partners to develop claimed world-first decarbonisation projects

Article by Amanda Jasi

ENERGY companies Equinor and SSE Thermal have unveiled plans to jointly develop two projects including what they claim will be one of the UK’s first power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and the world’s first major 100% hydrogen-fuelled power station.

According to the partners, the low-carbon power station projects will be the first of their kind and would be based in the UK’s Humber region. The projects are expected to enable the region to make a significant contribution to national CCS and hydrogen targets.

Keadby 3, the CCS power station, will be a 900 MW facility fuelled by natural gas. Carbon dioxide (CO2) captured at the facility would be transported using shared pipelines before being stored under the Southern North Sea. The station could deliver 15% of the UK’s target of capturing 10 Mt/y of CO2 by 2030. As part of its ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, the UK Government intends to establish two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s and aims for four by 2030, capturing up to 10 Mt/y of CO2.

The announced projects would use parallel hydrogen and CO2 pipeline infrastructure being developed by Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) and North Endurance Partnership (NEP), both of which involve Equinor. Announced in 2019, the ZCH partnership aims to create a “net-zero” carbon cluster in the North of England. NEP was formed to develop CO2 transport and storage infrastructure in the UK North Sea.

The development consent application for Keadby 3 is expected to be submitted in Spring, and it could potentially come online by 2027, which would bring it in line with the UK’s ambitions for Track 1 industrial projects. Track 1 is a provisional name for the two industrial clusters prioritised for deployment in the mid-2020s.

The hydrogen-fuelled power station, Keadby Hydrogen, would have peak demand of 1,800 MW of hydrogen, generating about 900 MW of electricity while emitting zero emissions at the point of combustion. The facility would be the world’s first major 100% hydrogen-fired power station, according to the partners, securing at-scale demand for demand for hydrogen in the region for decades to come. The partners say that with the appropriate policy mechanisms in place, the power station could come online by the end of the decade.

Keadby 3 and Keadby Hydrogen would replace older, carbon-intensive generation in the electricity grid and are expected to provide flexible and efficient power to support intermittent renewable generation. This would help to maintain supply security through the net-zero transition.

Both projects are in the development stage and the companies will continue to engage the Government, regulators, and stakeholders. A final investment decision (FID) will depend on progress of policy frameworks that facilitate delivery of the “critical” net zero infrastructure.

The plans are part of a new cooperation agreement expected to support the UK’s transition to net zero and accelerate decarbonisation of Humber, UK, the nation’s largest and most carbon intensive industrial cluster, according to the partners. The planned power stations would form a “clean power hub” near Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire and would be among the first in the world to use CCS and hydrogen technologies.

The projects are expected to create thousands of skilled, green jobs, and to revitalise “a key industrial heartland”.

The agreement will also see Equinor and SSE Thermal develop options for hydrogen blending at SSE’s Keadby 2 project, with the aim of progressively decarbonising the UK’s “newest and most-efficient” power station. Keadby 2 is an 840 MW gas-fired power station currently under construction in North Lincolnshire.

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Thermal, said: “With over 12 million tonnes of annual carbon emissions, ideal transport and storage options, and major energy and industrial companies working together, the Humber has to be at the centre of the UK’s decarbonisation strategy.”

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “The Humber region is at the heart of our commitment to tackle climate change and is already on the frontline of developing vital clean technologies which will change the way people’s homes and businesses are powered while slashing emissions.

“This new partnership will ensure that world-first technology is being developed in Scunthorpe and across the Humber, creating green jobs and bringing new investment which will benefit local communities and businesses – revitalising this industrial heartland as the UK builds back greener.”

The partners have also agreed to collaborate on projects elsewhere in the UK.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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