Equinor and SSE Thermal have revealed plans to jointly develop two first-of-a-kind, low-carbon power stations in the Humber region.
The plans comprise one of the UK’s first power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and the world’s first major 100% hydrogen-fuelled power station.
Underpinned by a new cooperation agreement between the two companies, the plans would support the UK’s transition to net zero and accelerate the decarbonisation of the Humber, the UK’s largest and most carbon-intensive industrial cluster.
The two decarbonised power stations, which would form a ‘clean power hub’ near Scunthorpe would be among the first in the world to utilise CCS and hydrogen technologies.
Keadby 3 and Keadby Hydrogen would replace older, carbon-intensive generation on the electricity grid, providing flexible and efficient power to support intermittent renewable generation and maintain security of supply through the net zero transition.
These projects would also result in the Humber making a significant contribution to the UK’s 2030 targets for CCS and hydrogen.
Keadby 3 would be a 900MW power station fuelled by natural gas and fitted with carbon capture technology to remove the CO2 from its emissions.
The captured CO2 would then be transported using shared pipelines before being securely stored under the Southern North Sea.
A formal consultation for Keadby 3 concluded in early 2021 and the project is currently progressing towards the submission of a development consent application in Spring 2021. It would have the potential to come online by 2027, in line with Government ambitions for ‘Track 1’ industrial cluster projects.
Keadby Hydrogen power station would have a peak demand of 1,800MW of hydrogen, generating around 900MW of electricity with zero emissions at the point of combustion.
The Keadby 3 and Keadby Hydrogen projects are both in the development stage and the companies will continue to engage government, regulators and stakeholders.
Final investment decisions will depend on the progress of policy frameworks that are commensurate with the delivery of this critical net zero enabling infrastructure.
The projects would utilise the parallel hydrogen and CO2 pipeline infrastructure being developed by the Zero Carbon Humber (ZCH) partnership – which includes Equinor and SSE Thermal – and offshore CO2 infrastructure developed by the six-member Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), which includes Equinor.
Both ZCH and NEP won public funding from the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in March.
Equinor’s H2H Saltend project will be the first to connect into the ZCH infrastructure and will come online by the mid-2020s. Like the additional hydrogen that would be produced for the Keadby Hydrogen project, H2H Saltend will provide low-carbon hydrogen to already-identified customers.
As part of the agreement, SSE Thermal and Equinor are also developing options for hydrogen blending at SSE Thermal’s Keadby 2 project (already under construction), aiming to progressively decarbonise the UK’s newest and most-efficient power station. The companies also have the intention to collaborate on projects elsewhere in the UK.
The agreement builds on the longstanding partnership between Equinor and SSE in the UK, which includes joint ownership of the Aldbrough Gas Storage facility in East Yorkshire, and the joint venture to build the Dogger Bank Offshore Wind Farm, the largest offshore wind farm in the world.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “The Humber region is at the heart of our commitment to tackle climate change and is already on the frontline of developing vital clean technologies which will change the way people’s homes and businesses are powered while slashing emissions.
“This new partnership will ensure that world-first technology is being developed in Scunthorpe and across the Humber, creating green jobs and bringing new investment which will benefit local communities and businesses – revitalising this industrial heartland as the UK builds back greener.”