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Hydrogen and the UK green revolution

Release date:
13 December 2021
Kick-starting hydrogen production in the UK is just one of the ways we’re helping to support the government’s green agenda, with more energy, more sustainable jobs and more lower emissions transport
 
🕒 4 min read | 📖 Feature| 💡 Why it matters

It was once the centre of the world’s steel industry and witnessed the world’s first steam passenger train take its inaugural journey. Now, England’s north-eastern region of Teesside is at the heart of a new industrial revolution: a green revolution that the UK government hopes will turn the area into a world-class low carbon hydrogen hub and support its ambition to reach net zero by 2050. 


And to help the UK advance its green agenda, bp is growing our portfolio of hydrogen projects aimed at delivering low carbon fuel for industry and transport on our roads. 

 

Most recently, we’ve announced plans that could deliver a major hydrogen transport hub on Teesside by 2030. “Teesside has a lot of transport links,” says James Patterson, bp’s VP of green hydrogen solutions. “There’s an airport, port and rail network, as well as buses and trucks. So, it has all these fantastic opportunities to demonstrate hydrogen as a transport fuel at a significant scale.”


Getting to that lower carbon transport future starts with HyGreen Teesside – a project to build one of the biggest ‘green’ hydrogen facilities in the UK that makes hydrogen through water electrolysis using an electrolyzer powered by renewable energy.

Decarbonizing industry

Initially, it is expected to produce enough hydrogen for 1,300 new heavy-duty trucks. By 2030, it has the potential to deliver the equivalent of 500MWe of low carbon hydrogen – capable of decarbonizing more than 10,000 heavy-duty trucks by replacing diesel versions with zero-emissions models.

 

The HyGreen Teesside announcement comes just a few months after plans were unveiled for one of the UK’s largest blue hydrogen projects – H2Teesside, which plans to supply big industrial businesses, such as steel, cement and petrochemicals, with low carbon hydrogen. In the UK, these industries traditionally rely on natural gas to create the high temperatures needed in their manufacturing processes with the carbon emitted. On Teesside, the plan is for low carbon hydrogen to replace the use of gas.


Blue hydrogen is made from natural gas, with associated carbon dioxide (CO2) separated, and the vast majority captured and stored underground. We’re aiming to make 1GW of blue hydrogen by 2030 and send for storage up to two million tonnes of CO2 every year via the bp-operated Northern Endurance Partnership’s offshore CO2 geological storage facilities. 

Renewable energy, including from offshore wind, will be used to produce green hydrogen

Hydrogen will play an important role in decarbonizing heavy transportation

H2Teesside could supply heavy industries that normally rely on coal for the high temperatures they require, such as steel...

...and the production of cement, which emits carbon dioxide as a byproduct of its manufacturing process

“The UK government wants to see 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030,” says Louise Jacobsen-Plutt, bp’s head of hydrogen and carbon capture, use and storage. “Which is enough to power 7.5 million homes every year. Both H2Teesside and HyGreen Teesside will play important roles in reaching that goal.”


In fact, the combined 1.5GW capacity of HyGreen Teesside and H2Teesside could deliver 30% of the UK ‎government’s target. Louise believes that Teesside is the perfect place for a growing low carbon hydrogen hub, since it has all the right elements in the area. 

 

“Teesside has the right natural resources, concentrated demand, hydrogen storage and pipelines, ample access to carbon capture and storage, and people with the skills we need to become a major hydrogen hub.”

 

Louise Jacobsen-Plutt, bp SVP, hydrogen and CCUS

 

Indeed, one of the reasons bp is so excited about its hydrogen portfolio, says Matt Williamson, head of our blue hydrogen business, is because the company has decades of experience working with it. “We’re already one of the world’s biggest producers of hydrogen via our refineries, so we know how to generate it reliably and how to handle it safely at an industrial scale.”


And bp has plenty of other in-house skills, too, including a geologist who is now adapting her expertise in computer modelling to understand oil and gas reservoirs to help build new hydrogen models. And there’s a lot of external experience that bp wants to tap into as well, says Matt: “On the team, we’ve got an ex-Ferrari engineer and someone who used to test downhill skis,” he says. “We know people are excited about this because when we announced 100 new jobs, we received 5,000 applications in less than a month.” 

We’re already one of the world’s biggest producers of hydrogen via our refineries

Taking a dual approach – developing both blue and green hydrogen projects – is important, says Louise, because they both have a role to play in decarbonization. “It’s not one versus the other,” she says, “but deciding for which purpose it makes most sense to deploy each technology. It’s about picking the best solution that can, over time, scale at the lowest possible cost.”


It’s also about being able to focus on areas of the economy that are particularly tough to decarbonize and choosing locations where bp has real advantage.


“It’s far too difficult to electrify heavy industry, like steel and cement, and heavy-duty transport that usually travels long distances,” says Louise. “Hydrogen offers them a realistic way to reduce emissions. And because we think the hydrogen economy will develop very locally at first, we can also look at the location of our refineries, many of which are already using hydrogen themselves, and make smart choices.”

💡 Why it matters


Hydrogen is going to play a significant role in the energy transition. By 2050, bp believes it could account for 5-15% of global energy demand – that’s equivalent to natural gas today. 

 

Hydrogen also has a key role in our transition from an international oil company to an integrated energy company. That’s why we aim to capture 10% of the low carbon hydrogen market in key geographies by 2030.

 

As well as our current projects, we are also working on a number of opportunities in the US, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

City solution

That combination of competitive advantage and local opportunity certainly underpins bp’s other UK-based hydrogen projects. In Aberdeen, Scotland – the home of our North Sea oil and gas business – we’re helping the city to accelerate its own ambitions to become a world-class hydrogen hub.

 

Here, we’re partnering with Aberdeen City Council to develop Scotland’s first scalable green hydrogen production facility. Initially, the goal is to use this green hydrogen to power the city’s buses and trucks. Through further investment, future phases could see production scaled up to supply larger volumes of hydrogen for rail, freight, marine, heat and, potentially, export.

bp will partner with Aberdeen to develop Scotland’s first scalable green hydrogen production facility for powering the city’s buses and trucks

Hydrogen refuelling stations

Meanwhile, we’re teaming up with truck manufacturer Daimler Trucks to accelerate the UK’s hydrogen refuelling network. In October, bp and Daimler Truck AG signed an agreement to pilot the development of hydrogen infrastructure and the introduction of hydrogen-powered fuel-cell trucks in the UK. Under the agreement, we’ll work with Daimler to assess the feasibility of designing, building, operating and supplying a new UK-wide network of up to 25 hydrogen refuelling stations for freight transport by 2030.


“We want to help the world reach net zero – it’s a core part of bp’s purpose,” says Louise. “Our growing portfolio of UK projects is designed to help do just that. It’s a really exciting time to be in this business.” 

 

 

Integrated UK business

HyGreen Teesside is the latest addition to bp’s integrated UK business portfolio, which, in the low carbon space, includes 3GW ‎gross of offshore wind projects in the Irish Sea, our aim to deliver 16,000 UK electric vehicle charging points by 2030, and bp and ‎Aberdeen City Council’s partnership deal.


The UK isn’t the only country interested in the power of hydrogen. Its potential to help countries around the world meet their net zero targets is enormous, with forecasts from the International Energy Agency suggesting it could represent around 16% of global energy consumption by 2050.

 

At bp, we're already developing low carbon hydrogen opportunities in Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

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