Equinor and SSE announce Humber hydrogen storage proposal for £290m joint venture site
Aldbrough Gas Storage Facility could be switched to low carbon fuel as duo forge first end-to-end plans in race to Net Zero
Energy majors and Humber hydrogen partners SSE Thermal and Equinor are developing plans for one of the world’s largest storage sites for the fuel of the future.
The two companies co-own Aldbrough Gas Storage Facility, where nine underground salt caverns – each the size of St Paul’s Cathedral – sit below coastal East Yorkshire agricultural land.
Commissioned in 2011, at a cost of £290 million, an upgrade could involve conversion of existing caverns or the creation of new ones.
Both SSE and Equinor are behind plans for a hydrogen-fuelled power station at Keadby, south of the Humber, with Equinor developing a hydrogen production plant, H2H Saltend on the North Bank.
The partnership marks the UK’s first end-to-end hydrogen proposal, connecting production, storage and demand projects.
Stephen Wheeler, managing director at SSE Thermal, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing our plans for the development of this world-leading hydrogen storage facility with our partners in Equinor, which would play a vital role in creating a low-carbon hydrogen economy in the Humber and beyond.
“By delivering large-scale hydrogen storage capacity, we can utilise hydrogen to decarbonise vital power generation, as well as heavy industry, heat, transport, and other hard-to-reach sectors, safeguarding and creating crucial jobs and investment across the region.”
It comes just days after Centrica revealed plans for the huge Rough reservoir, off the coast that Aldbrough sits on, less than 18 miles north of the Easington terminal.
All play key roles in the wider Zero Carbon Humber and East Coast Cluster plans, linking carbon capture and hydrogen production.
With an initial expected capacity of at least 320GWh, Aldbrough Hydrogen Storage would be significantly larger than any hydrogen storage facility in operation in the world today. It is described as ideally located to store the low-carbon hydrogen set to be produced and used in the Humber region, with 2028 eyed as a potential date to be operational.
The proposal is to initially store the hydrogen produced for the Keadby Hydrogen Power Station, but it is seen as extending well beyond electricity production.
Final investment decisions will depend on the progress of the necessary business models and associated infrastructure.
Grete Tveit, senior vice president for low carbon solutions at Equinor, said: “Hydrogen will be crucial for the UK to reach its net zero ambition. That’s why we are pleased to be working together with SSE Thermal on developing plans to store low-carbon hydrogen at the Aldbrough site, bringing us and our partners in Zero Carbon Humber closer to our joint ambition to support the Humber region to become the UK’s first net zero carbon cluster. “Projects such as these are critical for efforts to reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement and contributing to the UK’s goals to become a world leader in low carbon.”
SSE and Equinor have consent to increase capacity there, but market conditions have not seen it materialise. SSE also owns a similar sized facility at Atwck, near Hornsea.