BP has high hopes for hydrogen as a way to save the energy company from a fossil fueled obsolescence. The company has announced plans for a 500 megawatt green hydrogen production plant that should be fully operational by the end of the decade.
The multi-staged plant will begin producing 60 megawatts of green hydrogen (gas produced from renewable sources like solar, wind power, or gas from biomass) by 2025, according to the company.
For right now, the green project is still in the planning phases, with the company set to make a firm decision on proceeding in 2023.
Meanwhile, BP is moving ahead with a hydrogen production facility near the same location sourcing its feedstock from traditional fossil fuels along with a carbon capture system, designed to remove greenhouse gas emissions during the production phase.
So far, these carbon capture projects have been underwhelming and mostly unsuccessful, but new technologies -- and an existential threat to the industry from renewables have fossil fuel companies hoping for a renaissance.
In the U.S., one company, called NET Power, claims to have produced zero emission natural gas and sent power to the electric grid through a new carbon capture system.
At the heart of NET Power's technology is a new kind of turbine that burns natural gas in oxygen, rather than air. The plants only byproducts are carbon dioxide and water, which can be separated by freezing the water and isolating the CO2 to be buried in used oil and gas wells. “Low carbon hydrogen will be essential in decarbonizing hard-to-abate industrial sectors including heavy transport," said Louise Jacobsen Plutt, BP's senior vice president for hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization, and storage, in a statement. "Together, HyGreen and H2Teesside can help transform Teesside into the UK’s green heart, strengthening its people, communities and businesses. This is exactly the type of energy we want to create and more importantly deliver.”
The UK government has a lot riding on BP's Teesside project, which would be the nation's first hydrogen transport hub. The hope is to have Teesside provide hydrogen fuels for heavy transportation and logistics like rail, air travel, and shipping.
HyGreen Teesside is expected to fuel the development of Teesside into the UK’s first major hydrogen transport hub, leading the way for large-scale decarbonization of heavy transport, airports, ports and rail in the UK.
“This exciting project builds on our ongoing development of hydrogen in the area through the Tees Valley Hydrogen Transport Hub," said UK Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps." It’ll help pave the way for its use across all transport modes, creating high-quality, green jobs in the process."
Activists could be forgiven for looking at the project askance since the green component of the project is only one-third of the planned output from the facility -- and could never get built.
The bulk of the power would come from natural gas, whose use needs to start declining almost immediately if the world is to meet targets set by the United Nations on greenhouse gas reductions.
Those figures didn't take into account the commercialization of new carbon capture technologies, but to date, those technologies have yet to be proven effective at scale.
The proposed Teesside project would be BP's first in the UK and would complement other projects in the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain.