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Essar to invest £45m to build hydrogen furnace
Essar Oil UK has announced plans to install a new £45m furnace at its Stanlow refinery that will be capable of using hydrogen as its fuel source – a UK first.
The new furnace will replace three existing furnaces at the site, which are set to be decommissioned. An existing chimney of approximately 140m in height will be replaced with one measuring approximately 71m.
The announcement marks another significant milestone in Essar’s continued commitment to becoming the UK’s first low carbon refinery. It follows the launch of Vertex Hydrogen last month, a new Essar-led joint venture, in which the company will invest £1bn over the next five years to drive down emissions, including the development of new hydrogen production plants at Stanlow, forming a central part of the HyNet North West decarbonisation cluster.
Subject to planning approval, the project will provide a number of improvements that will lead to benefits for Stanlow and the surrounding area, including lower carbon emissions due to gas-only firing and new burners that emit lower levels of nitrogen oxide, whilst future proofing to enable the use of sustainable fuel types, such as hydrogen.
The furnace is currently being fabricated in Thailand and will be delivered to site almost fully constructed. The largest single module is 26.5 metres long, by 18.5 metres tall, by 14.5 metres.
Becoming the first of its kind based at a UK refinery, the new furnace has an improved energy efficiency of 4% compared to existing furnaces, which will save 16,600 tonnes of CO2 per annum, as well as reducing ongoing maintenance costs.
Set to be installed in 2022, the furnace will become fully operational next year. From 2026 onwards, it will be fuelled by hydrogen produced at Stanlow as part of the HyNet North West decarbonisation cluster. Essar’s new joint venture, Vertex Hydrogen, will develop the world’s first and largest blue hydrogen production plant at Stanlow. Hydrogen will be used at the site and will be distributed to industrial businesses in the region to support their own transition to low carbon.
Deepak Maheshwari, chief executive officer at Essar Oil UK, said: “We have hugely ambitious plans for Stanlow and are committed to making it the UK’s first low carbon refinery. By affecting a significant and rapid transition to hydrogen, we are securing the long term future of this vitally important national asset whilst also playing a key role in supporting the UK’s plans for building the low carbon economy of tomorrow. We would like to thank our community for its ongoing support of our refinery at Stanlow.”