Ineos hydrogen vehicles

Ineos to invest €2bn in European electrolysis plants

Image credit: Ineos

Chemicals giant Ineos has announced that it will invest more than €2bn in electrolysis plants in the region for the production of green hydrogen, a zero-carbon fuel with applications in transport, heating, and energy.

Its new electrolysis plants will be built in Norway, Germany and Belgium over the next decade, with further plants planned for France and the UK.

Ineos said it intends to work closely with EU governments. The bloc has made hydrogen a key part of its decarbonisation strategy, and plans to install capacity of 40GW of electrolysers by 2030; at present, there is not yet 0.1GW installed.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chair of Ineos, penned an editorial for the Sunday Telegraph extolling the benefits of hydrogen: “Hydrogen is the dream fuel. You can heat your home with it. You can drive your car on it. Burn it and all it produces is energy and the only by-product is water. We can all live with that. the world has committed to hugely reducing its carbon emissions and hydrogen is unquestionably going to play a large part in accomplishing this goal.”

He added: “[Hydrogen] infrastructure, clearly critical, needs government push on legislation and investment. The German government is well advanced with €9bn committed and over 200 filling stations operational. The UK government has yet to get out of the blocks but hopefully will soon. The UK has only a handful of hydrogen pumps today.”

Ineos has not specified the duration of the €2bn investment.

The company is, through its subsidiary, Inovyn, Europe’s largest existing operator of electrolysis. It already produces and uses 400,000 tonnes of hydrogen every year, although this is not zero-carbon green hydrogen. Ineos will continue to produce blue hydrogen as well as green hydrogen, stating that it will prioritise green hydrogen “wherever possible” and will invest in carbon capture and storage for blue hydrogen.

There are two approaches to producing hydrogen: blue hydrogen (produced by splitting natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide) and green hydrogen (produced by splitting water via electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen). While green hydrogen requires a large energy input, blue hydrogen cannot be described as a zero-emission fuel source, though it may be described as net-zero when used in conjunction with efficient carbon capture. Climate think tanks and campaigners have warned the UK government that blue hydrogen expansion will compromise its net-zero target, and research has found that it could be more carbon-intensive than coal.

Meanwhile, Inovyn and Northern Irish bus manufacturer Wrightbus – which developed the first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus – have signed a memorandum of understanding to partner on using hydrogen in transport. They will work together with the government to deploy hydrogen applications and technologies in heavy-duty road transport, including buses, trucks, and construction vehicles.

Geir Tuft, CEO of Inovyn, said: “The agreement between Inovyn and Wrightbus presents our companies with opportunities to expand the use of low-carbon hydrogen. By working together, I believe we can help drive forward the everyday use of hydrogen in heavy-use transport fleets across the UK.”

Ineos has been working with automotive companies to deploy hydrogen-powered vehicles, with a hydrogen fuel cell demonstrator of its Grenadier 4x4 under development, alongside an electric version. It hopes to begin testing of the hydrogen-based vehicle by the end of 2022.

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