First production from UK’s first large-scale low carbon hydrogen plant set for 2025


The UK’s first ever large-scale low carbon hydrogen production hub will begin production in the mid-2020s, a report has set out.

On 24 February, Vertex Hydrogen – the joint venture between Essar and Progressive Energy – published a paper, outlining the design and development process for a 1GW low carbon hydrogen production hub to decarbonise industry as part of the HyNet cluster. By 2030, the hub will deliver 30TWh of low carbon hydrogen production capacity, with its development set to progress through four stages, commencing with “Plant 1”.

HyNet Hydrogen Production Plant 1 will be able to deliver 350MW of low carbon hydrogen by 2025 and has been developed to a FEED level of technical definition. All required external connections and utilities can be made available to the site at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex – where it will be based – supporting the deployment of both Plants 1 and 2. Consenting has been progressed, with the consortium behind the project, which also includes Kent and Johnson Matthey, submitting a Hazardous Substances Consent application, Environmental Permit variation, and Planning Application, with a commercial programme of work underway to progress the necessary contractual negotiations to take place between now and a Final Investment Decision (FID).

Johnson Matthey’s low carbon hydrogen technology will be used for HyNet hydrogen production, representing the “best in class” technology for high purity low carbon hydrogen production from natural gas. The report highlighted how it delivers over 85% thermal efficiency and around 97% carbon capture, representing a “substantial improvement” on the BEIS counterfactual plant. In comparison, Plant 1 will consume 20% less feedstock gas and emit 70% less CO2 for the same hydrogen output. 

Co-location with the refinery within the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex underpins deliverability, it further set out, outlining how it is an established operational site with refined and proven frameworks and experienced staff to deliver well managed, safe operations. It unlocks opportunities and will help to manage risks. It sits at the heart of regional and national fuel supplies, making it well placed to unlock the transition towards low carbon energy distribution.

It also highlighted appetite for private investment for both Hydrogen Production Plant 1 and 2, while stressing the need for a contracted support regime for Plant 1 in 2022, prior to a FID, to ensure delivery at pace.

Plant 2, meanwhile, can be deployed rapidly and cost effectively to increase HyNet production capacity to over 1GW by 2026. This will provide the supply into HyNet’s wider hydrogen distribution and storage facilities, supporting decarbonisation in the wider north west region. Furthermore, due to economies of scale and beneficial use of shared infrastructure established for Plant 1, it anticipates an accelerated execution timeline and significant reduction in the levelised cost of hydrogen production from Plant 2.