Throwback Thursday Story: Uniper’s Killingholme, a Hydrogen Hub In The Making

By January 12, 2023 6   min read  (967 words)

January 12, 2023 |

Fuel Cells Works, Uniper, Hydrogen, News, fuel cells

How Uniper is starting to turn its plans for its Humber site into reality

We’ve previously highlighted the potential for Uniper’s Killingholme site to play a key role in our energy evolution and to contribute to the UK Government’s aim of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030.

What we visualise for Killingholme, and initial studies show to be both feasible and viable, is for the development of a large scale hydrogen production hub, which could supply local industry, power and transport, on the South Humber bank and beyond.

Why hydrogen?

1920 kh sign daff portrait5 2The energy sector has achieved a remarkable 72%* reduction in emissions since 1990. But for the UK to meet net zero by 2050, other industries need to match this progress and new solutions are needed to help achieve this. This is particularly applicable for those areas of the economy that are still dependent on high-carbon emitting fuels, e.g. transport, industry and heating our homes.

Hydrogen can provide the answer and can be refined into renewable liquid fuels, such as synthetic diesel and aircraft fuel, providing a clean energy source for those hard-to-decarbonise sectors of the economy. It can be stored in the same way as natural gas, offering the potential for a variety of uses and making use of existing gas storage facilities.

Producing green or blue hydrogen is also a way of decarbonising the existing natural gas supply, which could be a solution for home heating and for the UK’s energy security, when used as a fuel for existing gas power stations.

Why the Humber?

The Humber is a location of strategic importance for the UK’s overall net zero ambitions and it is currently home to in excess of 5GW of installed power generation, much of which is currently fossil-based. This proximity to both power and port infrastructure, has made the Humber an attractive location for heavy manufacturing industry. It’s therefore no surprise to learn that the Humber is the largest carbon emitting industrial cluster in the UK, estimated to emit over 30Mt of CO2 annually. Decarbonising this area alone would contribute significantly to the UK’s overall target to reach net zero by 2050.

Additionally, the Humber is close to and has existing connections to a growing supply of renewable energy from offshore wind production facilities in the North Sea, which can be used in the production of green hydrogen.

Uniper’s Humber Hub

1920 kh sign daff landscape1Uniper has committed to being carbon neutral in its European generation by 2035, with hydrogen technology as a cornerstone of its strategy. It has ambitious plans to develop a hydrogen hub at Killingholme, with up to 700MW blue hydrogen production and up to 100MW green hydrogen production.

For the UK to achieve its ambition of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, it will be vital to adopt a strategy that encompasses optimising hydrogen production both from renewables (green hydrogen) and from existing natural gas resources with carbon capture and storage (blue hydrogen). Uniper’s plans would see the Killingholme site producing green and blue hydrogen by the mid 2020’s, which could then be used to decarbonise heavy industry, transport, heating and power throughout the Humber region.

Uniper is currently preparing for the Front End Engineering Design work needed for the blue hydrogen facility; this will start in in 2022, and includes initiating early stage environmental surveys. Where possible, Uniper plans to utilise existing infrastructure onsite, to ensure hydrogen production costs are kept as low as possible.

Vital to the realisation of blue hydrogen at the Killingholme site is the delivery of a CO2 transport and storage network through the Zero Carbon Humber project. The phased development of up to 700MW of hydrogen, would see the capture of approximately 2Mt of CO2 per year, contributing significantly to the UK Government’s target to capture 10Mt of CO2 per year by 2030.

As a pioneer in the field of hydrogen, Uniper’s plans for Killingholme would also contribute to the Humber’s emergence as a leader in clean energy production; future proofing the industry and ensuring a skilled workforce to provide the essential services that we need, now and for the future.

Uniper has a reputation for helping the energy industry develop skilled employees through its award-winning Engineering Academy and in 2020, it became a member of the Energy and Utility Skills Partnership, with a role on the partnership’s CEO Council. Its focus is on working collaboratively with sector partners to inspire the next generation of apprentices, as well as those looking to retrain for careers in the energy and utilities sector.

Shared ambitions

Uniper is already involved in progressing decarbonisation in the Humber, as a partner in the Zero Carbon Humber project. This project has recently received UKRI funding for its plans for low carbon hydrogen production, along with carbon capture and storage, enabled by shared infrastructure. Carbon will be captured at locations around the Humber and from blue hydrogen production at Killingholme. The captured carbon will then be transported to permanent storage offshore in facilities such as the re-purposed Endurance offshore geological storage field in the UK’s North Sea.

The offshore infrastructure and storage being delivered by the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP) is also shared with the Net Zero Teeside (NZT) project.

This collaborative approach underlines the growing momentum in the Humber to realise its potential to contribute to the UK’s net zero ambitions. Furthermore, as one of the UK’s historic industrial heartlands, the potential socioeconomic benefits these developments will bring to the region cannot be ignored.

Uniper is proud to bring its experience in hydrogen production to the Humber and play its part in making this happen.

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