U.K. Chemicals Giant Looks at Hydrogen to Cut Carbon Emissions
(Bloomberg) -- Ineos Group, operator of a major U.K. refining and chemicals complex, is looking at hydrogen to cut its carbon emissions.
Just a few months after announcing a partnership with Hyundai Motor Co. on the supply of hydrogen to fuel cell vehicles, Ineos has outlined plans to invest in cleaner forms of the fuel across refining and chemicals at its main U.K. site at Grangemouth. The company is looking at an initial spend of more than 500 million pounds ($686 million), it said in an email, but has yet to take a final investment decision.
Grangemouth is located just east of Glasgow, Scotland, where the major United Nations climate conference, known as COP26, will be held in two months time and it’s one of the region’s biggest emitters. The chemicals industry is among the most difficult to decarbonize and Ineos met last week’s hydrogen strategy from the U.K. government with calls for financial support for the industry.
“The development of the hydrogen economy is the U.K.’s best chance of reaching its carbon reduction targets and Ineos stands ready to play its part,” said Tom Crotty, corporate affairs director. “The government must start to commit to investment,” he said, with the U.K. lagging massively behind Europe.
The straightest route to net-zero emissions uses hydrogen produced by renewable electricity and water -- known in the industry as green hydrogen -- and Ineos said it sees that as its priority. As a first step, however, it will look at cheaper blue hydrogen, which is produced using natural gas and where carbon emissions are captured and stored. It is aiming to start supply in 2027.
The U.K. government says that Scotland has a key role to play in the developing a nation-wide hydrogen economy. A Hydrogen Action Plan for the region is expected later this year.
Still, blue hydrogen technology has been criticized because it will still rely on fossil fuels. It has the backing of the oil and gas industry, which has clout in London government circles, said David Toke, reader in energy politics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
“Even if blue hydrogen overcomes its technical obstacles, there will still be real question marks about how low-carbon it will actually be,” Toke said.
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