Drax, Equinor and National Grid have formed a new consortium to explore the possibility of creating a low-carbon industrial hub in the Humber in the mid-2020s.
The complex would feature a hydrogen production facility and a large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) network linked to the Drax power station in Yorkshire.
Drax Group chief executive Will Gardiner said the project will seek to deliver on the recommendations of the government’s climate watchdog: “The Committee on Climate Change was clear – the UK needs both bioenergy with CCS and hydrogen production at scale by 2030 to achieve a net-zero-carbon economy.”
He added: “For decades the Humber has been a strategically important industrial cluster for the UK – it has the skills, industrial capability as well as offshore storage to transform itself into a cutting-edge low-carbon hub.”
As part of the project, the trio will examine whether the bioenergy and CCS pilot at Drax power station can be scaled up to form an “anchor” for a regional CCS network. They will also look at constructing a demonstration hydrogen production facility at the plant.
Jon Butterworth, chief operating officer for global transmission at National Grid Ventures, said: “We all agree that we must act now to start delivering a net-zero-carbon economy… We have seen rapid progress in decarbonising energy through established technologies such as wind power, solar and electricity interconnectors.
“Carbon capture, usage and storage and hydrogen create a new pathway to greater decarbonisation of the energy system and provide the platform for decarbonising our other areas of our economy which will be to the benefit of current and future generations.”
An alliance of business leaders, local politicians and academics revealed plans in March to build a zero-carbon industrial cluster between Manchester, Liverpool and Chester. The group is hoping to secure a share of £170 million of match funding announced by the government in December.