SSE Thermal to Help Develop World’s First Zero-Carbon Cluster

SSE Thermal has signed an agreement, alongside 10 other leading energy and industrial companies, to transform the Humber region into the world’s first ‘zero-carbon cluster’ by 2040.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced that the consortium had been successful in securing funding to launch its plans through Phase One of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The consortium is focused on using emerging carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen technology to decarbonise energy and industry in the Humber region. The initiative has the potential to capture and store around 10% of UK’s carbon dioxide emissions per year by 2040.

The companies involved include some of the largest businesses in the region. The plan has the potential to contribute to the future prosperity of the UK’s largest industrial hub, which contributes £18bn towards UK Gross Value Added (GVA), and to safeguard up to 55,000 jobs across the region.

Proposals include identifying anchor projects from across the Humber region that can kick-start the decarbonisation of energy and industry, by capturing and storing carbon and switching to low-carbon hydrogen as a fuel source.

In the Humber region, SSE Thermal currently operates the Keadby 1 CCGT Power Station in North Lincolnshire, as well as two gas storage sites at Atwick and Aldbrough in East Yorkshire. The company is also constructing the 840MW Keadby 2 Power Station, which is expected to become the cleanest and most-efficient gas-fired power station in Europe when complete in 2022.

As part of its commitment to a net zero future, SSE Thermal has stated that it will not construct any further gas-fired power stations unless they have a clear route to decarbonisation. The company is now aiming to create a clean power hub in the region, utilising CCS or hydrogen technology to provide flexible and reliable energy with net zero emissions.

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Thermal, said: “We believe the Humber region can lead the way in the UK’s transition to a net zero future and unlock major local economic benefits in the process. As part of this cluster initiative, we want to utilise emerging CCS and hydrogen solutions to create a clean power hub in the region and protect local jobs.

“In SSE Thermal, we’re focused on decarbonising our energy generation assets to play a key role in the net zero transition, and beyond. We’re looking forward to working with the other cluster partners, and key stakeholders, to start turning this huge potential for the Humber into a reality.”

Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, Lord Haskins, said: “We are pleased to welcome this agreement and the commitment companies across the Humber are making to working towards a net-zero carbon economy. This collaborative effort is key to the region – currently the UK’s highest emitting industrial cluster – reducing its carbon output and creating more new economic opportunities through clean growth.”

The full list of companies involved includes SSE Thermal, Associated British Ports; Centrica Storage Ltd; Drax Group; Equinor; National Grid Ventures; Phillips 66 Ltd; Px limited; Saltend Cogeneration Company Limited; VPI-Immingham LLP; and Uniper.