UK energy company Drax Group has partnered with the UK National Grid and Norwegian energy company Equinor to explore plans to develop carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) technology.

The organisations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing them to explore possibilities for a hydrogen production facility and large-scale CCUS network to be constructed in the Humber estuary in the mid-2020s. These plans could lead to the Humber region, home to the largest industrial cluster in the UK by emissions, becoming the world’s first net-zero carbon region.

According to a statement from Drax Group, this is the first significant action from the energy industry since the UK Committee on Climate Change published the Net Zero report in May 2019, which claimed that the UK can end its contributions to global warming within 30 years.

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said: “The Committee on Climate Change was clear – the UK needs both bioenergy with CCS and hydrogen production at scale by 2030 to achieve a ‘net zero’ carbon economy. This partnership is committed to meeting this challenge putting Great Britain at the heart of the global energy revolution.

“With Drax’s carbon negative power station, the Humber region could lead the world in new technologies that can deliver for the climate and the economy, helping to create a cleaner environment for future generations whilst creating new jobs and export opportunities for British businesses.

“We’re excited to be working with National Grid Ventures and Equinor on this project – for decades the Humber has been a strategically important industrial cluster for the UK – it has the skills, industrial capability as well as offshore storage to transform itself into a cutting-edge low carbon hub.”

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The consortium said the partnership will make use of the Humber’s key strength and capabilities to help it become a net zero carbon industrial cluster. These include its proximity to Drax Power Station, the largest decarbonisation project in Europe, as well as its proximity to large natural stores of CO2 in the North Sea.

Equinor executive vice president for marketing, midstream and processing Irene Rummelhoff said: “As a global leader in CCS and a major gas supplier to the UK for many decades, we are committed to helping shape sustainable solutions for a low carbon future.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Drax and National Grid Ventures in looking at how the Humber region can be a launch pad for wider decarbonisation in the UK economy and be an example for others to learn from.”

A study outlining the societal, technical and economic opportunities for hydrogen and CCUS in the Humber region is to be published by the partnership later in 2019.