The Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) Partnership brings together international energy companies, heavy industry, leading infrastructure and logistics operators, global engineering firms and academic institutions in a plan to create the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040 through low carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and negative emissions, known as carbon removal technology.

The scheme is enabled by shared infrastructure that includes a pipeline network to carry hydrogen to industrial customers and carbon dioxide from power generation and industrial emitters to permanent storage in an offshore aquifer below the seabed in the UK’s Southern North Sea.

Zero Carbon Humber could reduce the UK’s annual emissions by 15% and save industry around £27.5 billion in carbon taxes by 2040. It will also help to secure the future for the Humber’s traditional heavy industry and related supply chains by enabling decarbonisation and creating opportunities for growth in new technologies. It could safeguard 55,000 existing jobs in the region, whilst creating thousands of new STEM roles and developing skills, apprenticeships and educational opportunities in the area.

The ZCH Partnership includes Associated British Ports, British Steel, Centrica Storage Ltd, Drax Group, Equinor, Mitsubishi Power, National Grid Ventures, px Group, SSE Thermal, Saltend Cogeneration Company Limited, Uniper, and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The ZCH Partnership has applied for funding from Phase 2 of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, which forms part the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, with significant investment also coming from the companies within the ZCH Partnership.

The bid builds on the Humber’s successful application for Phase One funding, which was announced in April.

The bid’s anchor project is the Equinor-led Hydrogen to Humber (H2H) Saltend project, which will establish the world’s largest hydrogen production plant with carbon capture at px Group’s Saltend Chemicals Park. H2H Saltend will convert natural gas to hydrogen and capture the carbon dioxide (CO2). In the first phase, this could reduce emissions by circa 900,000 tonnes per year as industrial customers switch fuel to low-carbon hydrogen and Triton Power’s gas power plant blends hydrogen into the fuel supply via its upgraded Mitsubishi turbines. H2H Saltend is expected to grow over time, contributing to further emissions reductions from the Chemicals Park and across the Humber.

A pipeline network, developed by National Grid Ventures, will link H2H Saltend to energy-intensive industrial sites throughout the region, enabling further decarbonisation as additional businesses switch to low carbon hydrogen and capture their CO2 emissions. The CO2 will be compressed at Centrica Storage’s Easington site and stored under the Southern North Sea using offshore infrastructure shared with the Teesside industrial cluster.

The bid for matched funding covers obtaining land rights, development consents and front-end engineering design for H2H Saltend and the onshore pipeline infrastructure for CO2 and hydrogen, enabling the scheme to move towards a final investment decision on construction during 2023, with H2H Saltend and associated infrastructure expected to come online around 2026.

At Selby in North Yorkshire, Drax Power Station would connect to the completed CO2 pipeline network, underpinning the ZCH scheme with bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – a vital negative emissions technology that Drax is pioneering and which will be essential to decarbonising the Humber Cluster and helping the UK achieve its legally binding 2050 net zero carbon target.

The pipeline network will also run via SSE Thermal’s Keadby site, where it is developing Keadby 3. This could become the UK’s first gas-fired power station equipped with carbon capture technology by the mid-2020s, providing decarbonised flexible power to compliment intermittent renewables generation and maintain security of supply. The network will also run via Immingham, where Uniper is planning to add to its European hydrogen ambitions by developing clean hydrogen production at its Killingholme site, in line with Uniper’s pledge to be carbon neutral in Europe by 2035.

As one of the UK’s leading steel manufacturers, and a significant local employer, British Steel could benefit from the ZCH infrastructure as part of its drive to lower emissions. ABP, the major ports and logistics provider for the region,  will support the global reach of the low carbon products and chemicals produced at Scunthorpe and at Saltend.

The ZCH projects are supported by the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which models the wider economic and supply chain opportunities in the UK provided by these new technologies.

In addition to the key sites that are part of the ZCH scheme, there is further potential for other future projects to attract inward investment and cement the Humber’s reputation as the UK’s Energy Estuary and a world-leading net zero region. These include integrating offshore wind power into hydrogen production, decarbonising the regional gas grid, supplying hydrogen transport fuelling hubs, providing CO2 storage services to other industrial clusters and creating the world’s first sustainable maritime refuelling port.

Ron Deelen, CEO of British Steel said: “We have ambitious plans to invest in a range of technologies to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations, with solutions that are globally recognised and acceptable to customers. The development of the ZCH project, with the proposed installation of a dual CCS and hydrogen supply pipeline, will afford us the opportunity to utilise a range of techniques to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations. This project complements the long-term decarbonising technology roadmap of British Steel.”

Greg McKenna, CEO of Centrica Storage said: “At Centrica Storage we own and operate the Easington terminal which processes gas from the Southern North Sea before being injected into the National transmission system. We are a partner in the Zero Carbon Humber bid as we believe this project represents a vital opportunity for the UK to decarbonise its industrial sectors with the Humber representing the largest CO2 emitting cluster in the country. Our business is experienced in delivering large infrastructure projects in the Easington area, having managed multiple third-party pipeline landings including the construction and operation of Langeled gas receiving facility which meets 20% of the UK’s gas demand. We look forward to supporting this project and the opportunity this provides for the UK to meet its net zero obligations by 2050.”

For more info visit: zerocarbonhumber.co.uk