Norway’s Equinor and Scottish energy giant SSE are working together to develop what could potentially be one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities.

SEE confirmed this week the pair are developing plans to use their existing Aldbrough gas storage facility, on the east Yorkshire coast in the UK, to store low-carbon hydrogen as early as 2028.

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The site, which was commissioned in 2011, consists of nine underground salt caverns, each roughly the same size as London’s Saint Paul’s Cathederal.

In order to store hydrogen at the site, SSE said those existing caverns could be converted, or new purpose-built caverns could even be built to store the fuel.

The site would have an initial expected capacity of at least 320-gigawatt hours, which SSE claimed would make it larger than any hydrogen facility currently in operation around the world.

UK's first end-to-end hydrogen proposal

The duo claim their partnership marks the first end-to-end hydrogen proposal in the UK, connecting production, storage and demand projects.

The proposed storage site is located near the Humber region, where Equinor is proposing to develop 1.8GW of blue hydrogen production, starting with its 600-megawatt H2H Saltend project, which could start up by mid-decade.

H2H Saltend would then be followed by a 1.2GW production facility to supply SEE and Equinor’s proposed Keadby hydrogen power station, which the partnership claims would be the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power station and could start up before the end of the decade.

SSE claims the storage facility would also help unlock the potential for green hydrogen in the region, while supporting supply to a growing offtaker market that extends beyond power generation.

“We’re delighted to be announcing our plans for the development of this world-leading hydrogen storage facility with our partners in Equinor, which would play a vital role in creating a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the Humber and beyond,” SSE Thermal managing director Stephen Wheeler said.

“By delivering large-scale hydrogen storage capacity, we can utilise hydrogen to decarbonise vital power generation, as well as heavy industry, heat, transport, and other hard-to-reach sectors, safeguarding and creating crucial jobs and investment across the region.”

Meeting zero carbon ambitions

The storage facility and associated hydrogen projects form part of the Equinor-led Zero Carbon Humber scheme, which recently partnered with the Net Zero Teesside and the Northern Endurance Partnership. These industrial hubs across Teesside and the Humber account for about 50% of all UK industrial cluster emissions.

The newly established East Coast Cluster will submit a bid to the UK government’s cluster sequencing for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) deployment process, which will choose the first two industrial decarbonisation schemes in the UK to win backing from Whitehall.

The initiative to decarbonise the UK’s industrial clusters is crucial in the nation’s ambitious target to cut its carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, compared to 1990 levels, as it aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Senior vice president for low-carbon solutions at Equinor, Grete Tveit, stated hydrogen will be vital if the UK is to reach its ambitious climate targets.

“That’s why we are pleased to be working together with SSE Thermal on developing plans to store low-carbon hydrogen at the Aldbrough site, bringing us and our partners in Zero Carbon Humber closer to our joint ambition to support the Humber region to become the UK’s first net zero carbon cluster,” she stated Thursday.

“Projects such as these are critical for efforts to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement and contributing to the UK’s goals to become a world leader in low carbon.”