WSP have been commissioned to prepare a feasibility study investigating opportunities to decarbonise local industry and transport in Southampton, potentially creating a centre of excellence for hydrogen production and distribution on the south coast through carbon capture and hydrogen-based technologies.
Plans to explore the potential for a hydrogen super-hub in the Port of Southampton have been confirmed following a funding commitment from gas network company SGN and Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (GIG), with the partners commissioning WSP for the feasibility study.
Southampton is one of six major industrial clusters identified by the UK government with a diverse mix of large energy users, heavy transport needs and one of the UK’s largest and busiest ports.
Southampton emits around 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 from various industrial activities, and customers connected to SGN’s network for heat. A scheme incorporating carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technology could reduce these emissions and further decarbonisation of highly polluting activities could be achieved through localised hydrogen production.
Gus McIntosh, director of energy futures at SGN, said: “We’re at the forefront of hydrogen exploration and Southampton could easily become a world benchmark for decarbonising whole industrial areas. That would bring cleaner air, large numbers of jobs, and new economic opportunities in hydrogen production and export.”
Industrial clusters embracing CCUS and hydrogen networks can play an important role in local decarbonisation strategies. Once established, the Southampton hub could provide a platform to decarbonise transport and domestic heating in the south of England and play an important role in delivering Southampton’s commitments set out in its Green City Charter.
Ed Northam, head of GIG Europe, said: “The UK has been a global leader in the deployment of new energy technologies, and is now pushing for a full economy transition backed by bold partnerships between the public and private sectors. We believe that we can play an important role in accelerating this transition by looking for new opportunities to support innovative emerging technologies like hydrogen.”
A clear understanding of the potential to decarbonise industrial emissions will follow a six-month programme of engagement with local stakeholders, undertaken by WSP.
Ben Clarke, head of gas networks at WSP, said: “This study will help us understand the potential to decarbonise the Southampton water industrial cluster through the use of hydrogen and carbon capture. The government has signalled their keenness for hydrogen and CCUS to be explored at pace and we’re delighted to be supporting SGN and GIG on this project.”