Norway's Equinor and French utility Engie have agreed to launch a feasibility study for their H2BE project, which aims to produce hydrogen from natural gas using autothermal reforming (ATR) technology, combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS).
The ATR technology promises decarbonisation rates above 95% and for producing hydrogen at large scale, at competitive cost levels.
The new partners are planning to transport captured carbon dioxide in liquid form for permanent sub-surface storage at a location in the Norwegian North Sea.
Equinor said the two companies have agreed to assess the technical and economic suitability of the technology at a site in Belgium's Ghent area.
“Commercial talks with potential hydrogen offtakers, predominantly large, hard-to-abate industries, continue simultaneously," Equinor said.
"Moreover, discussions are ongoing with North Sea Port on integration with port infrastructure.
“Having necessary hydrogen and CO2 infrastructure in place are crucial elements for the success of the project.
"Therefore Engie and Equinor joined forces with Fluxys, the independent gas transmission system operator in Belgium.”
Edouard Neviaski, chief executive of Engie's Global Energy Management entity, said his company is convinced that decarbonised thermal energy is required to achieve carbon neutrality in the economy, alongside renewable electricity sources.
“We firmly believe that renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, with multiple uses and advantages, have everything to be the undeniable ally to accelerate the development of a solid infrastructure and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy,” he said.
Grete Tveit, Equinor’s senior vice president for low-carbon solutions, said the Norwegian company sees potential to deliver reliable low-carbon hydrogen from natural gas to enable large-scale decarbonisation of industries, including continuous and flexible electricity production.
“Equinor believes that hydrogen and CCS are vital to succeed with the energy transition and to reach net-zero ambitions,” she said.
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