The Essar group aims for a key role in building the hydrogen market

from the North West of England Stanlow oil refinery has stood near the banks of the River Mersey for nearly 100 years. But today its leaders want to secure a low-carbon future for the next century. It produces around 17% of road fuels in the UK and big investment is going into decarbonising the facility – finance schemes to capture emissions and store them underground, FinancialTimes reported.

Essar Group, the India-based conglomerate, owns Stanlow and believes that by deploying carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), the plant will be able to prolong its life. He hears the company plays a key role in UK plans to create a market for hydrogen, as a low-carbon fuel for heavy industry and transport.

“Our company believes that carbon capture will be an important part of manufacturing for our industry and that is why we are committing to it now,” says Jon barden, Chief Operating Officer of Essar Oil. “We strongly believe that achieving net zero (emissions) is a good thing for us as a company, because the transition to hydrocarbons will be a long one,” he added, the Financial Times reported.

Much depends on the success of the CCUS. Last year, the UK government supported two CCUS clusters for accelerated development, including the North West HyNet project of which the Stanlow refinery is a part.

The CCUS has a checkered history, with the UK government withdrawing funds over the past decade and doubts about the effectiveness of some ongoing international projects. But the UK government has re-engaged in technology and wants to have at least five industrial clusters across the country to enable the capture of emissions from heavy industry.

Essar says chemistry and engineering are widely used and understood in the oil industry – although generally to maximize production by pumping CO2 back into oilfields to extract additional supply, rather than reducing emissions.

Part of the HyNet cluster in the North West of England, the plant will be used to produce so-called blue hydrogen. Blue hydrogen is created from gas but with the emissions sequestered to create a low or zero carbon fuel. This can replace the gas used to provide power to run the facility and kick-start a wider hydrogen economy, providing low-carbon fuel for other industries, the Financial Times reported. “We want to demonstrate that this is a viable technology solution and that we can implement and operate it sustainably, as part of the company’s own transition to lower carbon emissions. “, Barden said. “The goal is to reach net zero by 2040? . . . but reaching 70-80% of net zero is possible within 10 years.”


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