UK to house first blue hydrogen power plant

Keadby power station ScunthorpeThe UK looks set to become home to the world’s first large-scale power station to burn pure ‘blue’ hydrogen after the Scottish-based multinational SSE and the Norwegian state-backed oil company Equinor announced that they were to work together on plans for the plant at SSE’s Keadby complex in north Lincolnshire. The plant, which would generate enough low-carbon energy to supply more than a million homes, could be operational by the end of the decade. It would burn the blue hydrogen that is produced by processing natural gas and and then capture and dispose of waste CO2 in a process that has low but not zero emissions. Equinor is already working on plans for a second blue hydrogen production facility at Saltend on the north bank of the Humber Estuary.

The UK is currently heavily reliant on power stations that burn natural gas which produce the carbon dioxide that causes global warming. Hydrogen burns cleanly and could offer a greener alternative to supplement the power generated by wind and solar farms. The government wants hydrogen and carbon capture and storage to help to meet Britain’s 2050 net zero emissions goal and has earmarked $1bn to the development of four carbon capture and storage ‘clusters’ with the capacity of five gigawatts of low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, from both blue hydrogen and zero-carbon “green hydrogen” facilities powered by renewables.

One cluster that has already been identified is Net Zero Teesside in the north-east of England (main picture) which is being developed by a group of oil companies lead by BP and including ENI, Equinor, Shell and Total. The idea behind the project is to capture carbon dioxide, compress it and pipe it into the North Sea where it will be injected into spent oil reservoirs, effectively trapping up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 .