UK giant Ineos has announced what it claims to be Europe's largest investment in Europe in green hydrogen production.

Ineos revealed Monday it was ploughing more than €2 billion ($2.3 billion) into electrolysis projects to make green hydrogen at several of its sites across Europe.

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The company intends to build plants in Norway, Germany and Belgium over the next 10 years, with investment also planned for plants in the UK and France.

Europe is crying out for more investment in green hydrogen

Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe

The Norwegian plant will be the first, with Ineos building a 20-megawatt electrolyser, which it claims will result in reducing the carbon footprint of its petrochemical complex at Rafnes by at least 22,000 tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide.

It will then turn its attention to a 100MW electrolyser project in Germany to further decarbonise its operations in Cologne by more than 120,000 tpa of CO2.

Hydrogen from the Koln site will be used to produce green ammonia, while Ineos says it will also open opportunities to develop e-fuels through power-to-methanol applications on an industrial scale.

Decabonisation: Ineos intends to build a 20MW electrolyser at its Inovyn Rafnes complex in Norway Photo: INEOS

“Green hydrogen represents one of our best chances to create a more sustainable and low carbon world,” said Ineos chairman Jim Ratcliffe.

“Europe is crying out for more investment in green hydrogen and Ineos’ announcement today shows our determination to play a leading role in this important new fuel.”

Ineos already claims to be Europe’s largest operator of electrolysis via its Inovyn subsidiary, and also has a history of storing and handling hydrogen, with the company producing over 300,000 tpa of hydrogen, mainly as a co-product from its chemical manufacturing operations.

The company's fresh investment in green hydrogen follows its announcement last month it would be spending about £1 billion ($1.4 billion) to reduce emissions from its Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical plant in Scotland, in combination with the Acorn carbon capture and storage project.

Green vs Blue

Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas feedstocks, with the carbon dioxide by-product from hydrogen production captured and stored. However, the process is not emissions free.

Green hydrogen is made using electrolysis powered by renewable energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, creating an emissions-free fuel.

Ineos is looking to cut emissions from the site by 60% by 2030, with plans to initially produce blue hydrogen, however the company has not ruled out introducing green hydrogen production at the site in the future as it targets net zero emissions at Grangemouth by 2045.

Ineos launched a new business last year as part of the company’s strategy to build clean green hydrogen capacity across Europe, both at Ineos’ own sites and at potential partner sites.

Ineos said Monday it expects to announce partnerships with “leading organisations involved in the development of new hydrogen applications”, without providing further details.

The company also intends to work closely with European governments to ensure the necessary infrastructure is put in place to assist the emerging hydrogen economy.