BP is progressing plans for a 1 gigawatt blue hydrogen project that the UK supermajor claims would, if it takes off, be the UK’s largest such hydrogen facility.

London-headquartered BP on Thursday revealed it is performing a feasibility study for the facility in Teesside towards taking the final investment decision in 2024, which would lead to operational start-up by 2027.

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The feasibility study is exploring technologies that BP said could capture up to 98% of carbon emissions from the hydrogen production process.

With 1GW of annual hydrogen production targeted by 2030, this could see up to 2 million tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide being sent for secure subsea storage.

That amount of annual production would meet 20% of the UK’s hydrogen target and could lead to the development of an industrial hydrogen cluster and enable decarbonisation of industries in the region, BP claimed.

BP said the proposed development, H2Teesside, would be a significant step in developing ‎the company’s hydrogen business and make a major contribution to the UK government’s target of developing 5GW of hydrogen production by the end of this decade.

With close proximity to North Sea storage sites, pipeline corridors and existing operational hydrogen storage and distribution capabilities, BP said the area is uniquely placed for H2Teesside to help lead a low-carbon transformation, supporting jobs, regeneration and the revitalisation of the surrounding area.

The region is also home to five of the country’s top 25 CO2 emitters, BP said, without identifying any of the five.

Essential component on path to net zero

“Clean hydrogen is an essential complement to electrification on the path to net zero. Blue hydrogen, integrated with carbon capture and storage, can provide the scale and reliability needed by industrial processes,” said BP’s executive vice president of gas and low carbon energy, Dev Sanyal.

'Clean hydrogen is an essential complement to electrification on the path to net zero': BP executive vice president of gas and low carbon energy Dev Sanyal Photo: BP

“It can also play an essential role in decarbonising hard-to-electrify industries and driving down the cost of the energy transition.”

UK Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan added: “Driving the growth of low-carbon hydrogen is a key part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and our Energy White Paper and can play an important part in helping us end our 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.”

Integration plans

Blue hydrogen is produced by converting natural gas into hydrogen and CO2, which is then captured and permanently stored. H2Teesside would be integrated with BP’s already planned Net Zero Teesside and Northern Endurance Partnership carbon capture, utilisation and storage projects.

The operator plans to develop H2Teesside in phases, with an initial 500 megawatts 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 noted it sees potential for further hydrogen demand in Teesside beyond 2030.

Partnerships lined up

The company has wasted no time in lining up agreements with potential partners for H2Teesside.

Leading the charge: BP is spearheading the Net Zero Teesside project - the region is home to five of the UK's top 25 emitters, the supermajor said Photo: NET ZERO TEESSIDE

These include a memorandum of understanding with Venator, a large producer of titanium dioxide pigments and performance additives, to scope the supply of clean hydrogen to its flagship Teesside plant.

BP has also signed an MoU with regional gas distributor Northern Gas Networks (NGN) to collaborate to initiate decarbonisation of the gas networks in the UK.

It’s fantastic to see BP planning to invest in hydrogen production at Teesside, placing our region at the forefront of a green recovery.

"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,” said NGN chief executive Mark Horsley.

Green hydrogen explored

BP has also signed an MoU with Tees Valley Combined Authority 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 last September.

Green hydrogen is produced by the electrolysis of water, powered by renewable energy.

“This is a huge vote of confidence in our region and puts Teesside at the forefront of efforts to achieve the government’s ambitious target for the UK to be the world’s first major economy to be net zero, by 2050,” said Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchon.

BP and Denmark's Orsted last year signed a letter of intent to work together to develop a ‎project in Germany for industrial-scale production of green hydrogen.