Essar has formed Vertex Hydrogen Limited, a transformative new joint venture, with Progressive Energy, to build the UKs largest hydrogen hub at the Stanlow Manufacturing Complex.
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.
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.
Providing low carbon hydrogen across North West England and North Wales
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.
A total investment of approximately 1 billion pounds will be committed to deliver the hydrogen production hub.
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. 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.
Prashant Ruia, Essar Chairman, 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 pounds of investment, thereby creating jobs and supporting local communities for decades to come.”
Deepak Maheshwari, Essar Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Vertex Hydrogen is a critical investment for Essar in helping it achieve its vision of becoming the UK’s first low carbon refinery and supplying UK markets with the sustainable fuels of the future.”
Chris Manson-Whitton, Director at Progressive Energy, explained: “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.”
In November 2020, the UK government published its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, providing a roadmap to driving innovation, boosting export opportunities, and generating green jobs and economic growth across the country to level up regions.
As part of the plan, government committed to deploy Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) in two industrial clusters by the mid-2020s, with a further two clusters coming on-line by 2030. The successful deployment of CCUS is critical to meeting the UK’s net zero goals and remains crucial for industrial decarbonisation, low carbon power, engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies and delivering the government’s 5GW by 2030 low carbon hydrogen production ambition.
Vertex Hydrogen was launched in January 2022. A joint venture between Essar Oil UK (90 per cent) and Progressive Energy Ltd (10 per cent), Vertex will deliver the UK’s first low carbon hydrogen production plant to lead the country’s hydrogen production economy. Using Johnson Matthey’s Low Carbon Hydrogen (LCHTM) technology, the hydrogen production plant will sit at the heart of HyNet North West, the UK’s leading industrial decarbonisation cluster. HyNet will deploy a combination of low carbon hydrogen, distributed by Cadent Gas Ltd, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure, provided by ENI, to decarbonise industry, transport and transform how we heat our homes across North West England and North East Wales.