Equinor has submitted its planned Hydrogen 2 Humber (H2H) Saltend production facility for the next round of funding under the UK government’s Cluster Sequencing process.

Supporting its bid for funding, Equinor revealed it had struck several cooperation agreements with prospective regional hydrogen users.

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The six prospective industrial operators include Centrica Storage, which operates the Easington gas storage site in East Yorkshire in north-east England and offshore platforms in the North Sea.

“Centrica are the UK’s largest energy supplier and we are committed to being a net zero business by 2045 and helping our customers be net zero by 2050,” said Centrica Storage managing director Martin Scargill.

“Fuel-switching our operations at Easington to hydrogen would provide a unique opportunity to make a step-change reduction in our emissions, whilst also paving the way to provide large-scale, flexible low-carbon energy storage solutions for the UK.”

Ineos Acetyls, which supplies chemicals for a wide range of downstream industries from its site at Saltend Chemicals Park on the banks of the Humber estuary, is another prospective user of H2H Saltend, which is the kick-starter project for the wider Zero Carbon Humber scheme.

Zero Carbon Humber is a partnership of 12 organisations committed to making Humber the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040.

“As a business with a long tradition of developing lower-carbon solutions, Ineos Acetyls is proud to back Zero Carbon Humber’s efforts to build the world’s first net zero industrial cluster and help make the region competitive for generations to come,” Ineos Acetyls chief executive David Brooks said.

“At Ineos, we believe that achieving net zero by 2050 is only possible by significantly increasing the use of hydrogen, making the H2H Saltend project a critical component of the cluster strategy.”

Other industrial operators with which Equinor has struck cooperation agreements include Pensana, Triton Power, Vital Energi and Vivergo Fuels.

Beyond those initial offtakers, Equinor believes low-carbon hydrogen produced at H2H Saltend could be used to help decarbonise heavy industry, transport, heating and pharmaceuticals across the Humber region.

The Norwegian operator said its submission for phase two of the Cluster Sequencing was backed by 23 letters of support from MPs, local authorities, business and trade bodies, educational institutions and diversity groups across the region.

“H2H Saltend is an exciting ground-breaking project which will provide low-carbon hydrogen to multiple industries in the Humber by 2026, and the demand for this is clear from the industrial operators’ agreements we already have in place,” said Equinor’s executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing, Irene Rummelhoff.

“Importantly, it is also a major step to a wider hydrogen economy which can reduce emissions across several sectors, act as a catalyst for greater inward investment and economic growth and, working with our partners, also ultimately result in a Zero Carbon Humber.”

Equinor believes the planned 600-megawatt hydrogen production plant could enable industries at Saltend Chemicals Park and across East Yorkshire to cut CO2 emissions by nearly 1 million tonnes annually, with a 30% reduction in the Saltend Chemicals Park’s current emissions.

H2H Saltend is also seen as an essential building block in Equinor’s overall H2H ambitions, under which it will establish at least 1.8 gigawatts of production in the region by 2030.

In addition to the planned blue hydrogen scheme at Saltend, the company is plotting a 1.2-gigawatt production facility to supply the proposed Keadby hydrogen power station in eastern England, which would be built by Equinor and SSE. The partners claim it could be the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power station.

Equinor and SSE also propose to build what could become one of the world’s largest hydrogen storage facilities at the Aldbrough gas storage site in East Yorkshire.

In October, the UK government revealed that the East Coast Cluster, of which Zero Carbon Humber is a part, and the Eni-led HyNet carbon capture, storage and utilisation projects had been selected as initial beneficiaries of £1 billion ($1.36 billion) in funding.

The second phase of the Cluster Sequencing programme opened the door for decarbonisation projects within the cluster to enter Phase Two, with results expected in May.

Equinor has also submitted three other projects: two new carbon capture power stations at Keadby and at Peterhead in eastern Scotland, both developed with SSE Thermal; and the Net Zero Teesside Power project, developed in partnership with BP.