Essar in £1bn Stanlow venture for largest hydrogen hub

Essar Oil UK announced it has formed Vertex Hydrogen Limited, a new joint venture with Progressive Energy, to build the UK’s largest hydrogen hub at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex near the River Mersey in Chesire that will involve £1 billion of investment.

Led by Essar as the majority shareholder, Vertex Hydrogen has been formed to provide the catalyst “for development of a hydrogen economy across North West England and North Wales, as a central part of the HyNet decarbonisation cluster.”

Essar Oil UK’s main asset is the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex, one of the most advanced refineries in Europe, which is situated close to Liverpool and Manchester.

Stanlow has 800 employees and it annually produces over 16% of the UK’s road transport fuels and plays a key role in the UK’s broader petrochemical industry.

“This initiative is a core part of a wider strategy by Essar globally to focus on investing in energy transition through the transformation of existing portfolio companies, and investments in new ventures,” said Essar.

“The UK’s first low carbon hydrogen facility at Essar Stanlow will sit at the heart of the HyNet low carbon cluster, to produce a total of 1GW per year of hydrogen, across two units, from 2026.

“This is equivalent to the domestic heating energy used by a major British city region, such as Liverpool.”

Waste fuel gases from Essar Stanlow, and natural gas, will be converted by Vertex Hydrogen into hydrogen with carbon dioxide safely captured and stored by HyNet partner Eni SpA, underground offshore in Liverpool Bay.

The hydrogen production hub will provide low carbon energy to replace fossil fuels in industry across the HyNet region, as well as heating homes, and fuelling buses, trains and trucks.

The hydrogen produced will, in the first instance, be utilised by Essar to reduce its carbon footprint at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex.

“In addition, Vertex will also provide low carbon hydrogen to a wide range of businesses, including companies from the chemicals, ceramics, paper, glass and flexible power generation sectors, such as Tata Chemicals Europe, Encirc, InterGen, Solvay, Ingevity, Novelis, Glass Futures and Saica Paper – all having expressed interest already,” added Essar.

“More widely in the region, companies such as Pilkington are demonstrating use of hydrogen in their facilities.

“Cadent Gas Ltd is also developing the UK’s first multi-user hydrogen distribution network within HyNet.”

Essar chairman Prashant Ruia said: “Essar is massively committed to investing in energy transition and is building a portfolio of companies in this space.

“Vertex Hydrogen is a central component of that vision, which will be instrumental in helping create a hydrogen future for North West England and North East Wales.

“This will see over £1 billion of investment, thereby creating jobs and supporting local communities for decades to come.”

Progressive Energy director Chris Manson-Whitton said: “As the founding developer of HyNet, we see the launch of Vertex Hydrogen as a key milestone.

“Vertex is central to unlocking the low carbon hydrogen economy, reducing emissions, creating a cleaner world for future generations whilst creating and safeguarding jobs.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.