Uniper partners with Shell to produce blue hydrogen in the UK
Photo courtesy of Uniper

Uniper partners with Shell to produce blue hydrogen in the UK

Uniper, one of Germany’s largest publicly listed energy supply companies based in Düsseldorf, has signed a cooperation agreement with Shell to progress plans to produce blue hydrogen at Uniper’s Killingholme power station site in the East of England. 

The Humber Hub Blue project includes plans for a blue hydrogen production facility with a capacity of up to 720 megawatts (MW), using gas reformation technology with carbon capture and storage (CCS). The hydrogen produced could be used to decarbonise industry, transport and power throughout the Humber region.

Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced by the reformation of natural gas. The carbon dioxide produced as a result of this process is captured and stored using CCS technology.

The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding signed by both companies in 2021 to explore accelerating the development of a hydrogen economy in Europe. Shell and Uniper will now jointly progress process design studies and site development activity, with a view to taking the project to front end engineering and design by 2023.

The project recently passed the eligibility phase for the UK Government’s Phase-2 carbon capture, usage and storage cluster sequencing process. Successful projects which could be eligible for government funding will be shortlisted from May 2022. Phase-2 projects are expected to take final investment decisions from 2024 to then be operational from 2027.

The captured carbon would be fed through the proposed Zero Carbon Humber onshore pipeline, part of the East Coast Cluster, recently selected as one of two CCS clusters to receive initial UK government support under the government’s cluster sequencing process.

Blue hydrogen production at Killingholme could see the capture of around 1.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of carbon a year through CCS. The UK Government has set a target to capture 10 Mt of carbon a year by 2030.

“The Humber Hub Blue hydrogen project is a key part of Uniper’s hydrogen ambitions in the UK and we’re extremely pleased that Shell is joining us on this initiative,” said Axel Wietfeld, CEO of Uniper Hydrogen.

“The development of a hydrogen production hub at Killingholme represents a significant step towards decarbonising the UK’s largest industrial cluster. Future proofing the industry, this investment has the potential to secure and grow the region’s economy,” said Mike Lockett, Uniper UK country chairman and chief commercial officer, Power.

“Shell is ready to play our part in ensuring an orderly transition to net zero while bolstering the UK’s energy security,” said David Bunch, country chair, Shell UK. “We plan to invest up to GBP25 billion (USD32.5 billion) in the UK energy system over the next decade subject to board approval, and more than 75% of this is for low- and zero-carbon technology. Hydrogen and CCS will be key to these plans. They can also help stimulate economic growth and jobs. That is why it is critical that both government and industry continue to work together to drive change.”

Globally, Shell is building an integrated power business that will provide customers with low-carbon and renewable energy solutions. Today Shell has deployed or is developing more than 6 gigawatts (GW) of wind power generation capacity across North America, Europe, the UK and Asia, and in January 2022 Shell secured the seabed leases to develop up to 5 GW of floating offshore wind in the ScotWind leasing round.

Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. 

Uniper, which operates in more than 40 countries, plans for its power generation business in Europe to be carbon-neutral by 2035. Uniper’s roughly 33 GW of installed generation capacity make it one of the world‘s largest electricity producers. The company’s core activities include power generation in Europe and Russia as well as global energy trading and a broad gas portfolio, which makes Uniper one of Europe’s leading gas companies.

 “We’ve set ambitious targets for hydrogen production in our British Energy Security Strategy and are investing GBP360 million (USD468 million) in innovative energy technologies to get us there. Today’s announcement shows real confidence in hydrogen—creating high-quality jobs to level up the Humberside region, based on this clean, cutting-edge new super fuel,” said British Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Greg Hands.