Energy heavyweights join forces for hydrogen, CCS

The UK could usher in the world’s first net zero carbon industrial centre after three energy giants joined forces to explore large-scale hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) opportunities in the Humber.

DraxEquinor and National Grid Ventures have signed a memorandum of understanding that could see the partners develop the world’s first carbon negative power station in Selby, North Yorkshire.

"The UK needs both bioenergy with CCS and hydrogen production at scale by 2030 to achieve a ‘net zero’ carbon economy. This partnership is committed to meeting this challenge putting Great Britain at the heart of the global energy revolution," said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO.

As the most carbon intensive industrial cluster in the UK, the Humber is home to the country’s largest power station. Drax’s Selby facility in North Yorkshire has a generating capacity of 3.9GW and supplies 6% of the UK’s electricity needs.

The group converted two-thirds of the coal-based power station to biomass generation, later launching a CCS pilot scheme on the site which is currently capturing a tonne of carbon dioxide a day.

The scheme uses patented solvent-based technology from C-Capture, a University of Leeds spin-off, to remove carbon dioxide from the process. The project is the first such to capture carbon from the combustion of a 100% biomass feedstock.

The use of CCS with renewable biomass is one of the few technologies which is capable of removing carbon from the atmosphere, thus making a site carbon negative.

Drax says the scheme could be scaled up to anchor a regional network capable of capturing millions of tonnes of carbon from nearby industrial activities.

The site will be the focus of the partnerships development activities, which are to include feasibility studies into the transportation and storage of carbon dioxide from the station to the North Sea, as well as the deployment of a large-scale hydrogen facility on or near the site, which will be available for industrial operations across the region.

The companies have not disclosed the size of the potential pipeline nor how much the partners intend to invest in the development of carbon capture and hydrogen in the Humber.

According to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, the development of carbon capture and hydrogen technologies will become essential if the country is to meet its ‘net-zero’ carbon target by 2050.

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