US supermajor ExxonMobil is exploring the creation of a potential hydrogen hub at a UK industrial cluster that is already home to the company’s Fawley refinery.

ExxonMobil revealed Wednesday it had signed a memorandum of understanding with SGN and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG) to explore the use of hydrogen and carbon capture to help reduce emissions from the Southampton industrial cluster.

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“We are pleased to be part of this collaboration that includes a technical study to assess the potential for the Fawley facility to play a key role in both hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage solutions,” president of ExxonMobil’s Low Carbon Solutions business, Joe Blommaert, said.

“With well-designed policy and regulations, hydrogen can help reduce the emissions of the Southampton industrial area that provides vital products for modern life.”

ExxonMobil cited a feasibility study already carried out by SGN and GIG, which it said showed annual hydrogen demand from the Southampton industrial cluster could rise to as much as 37 terawatt hours by 2050, including forecast heating demand from 800,000 homes in England's south.

The study also estimates carbon capture facilities could initially capture roughly 2 million tonnes per annum of CO2, including from initial hydrogen production of roughly 4.3TWh per annum, which, with the right government support, could commence as early as 2030.

“Hydrogen will play a vital role in decarbonising industrial clusters like Southampton, and so it is extremely positive that our recent exploratory study has concluded that this hydrogen project is both technologically and economically feasible,” said head of GIG Europe, Edward Northam.

“Getting the project to development will require close partnership with local industry – which is why ExxonMobil, a potential cornerstone producer and user of hydrogen, joining our project is a significant step forward.”

ExxonMobil views hydrogen with carbon capture as a viable pathway to reduce emissions From Southampton’s industrial sector and stimulate the local economy through the conversion of the natural gas network, while helping reduce emissions from domestic heating and transport.