100-MW green hydrogen facility to be built at Port of Felixstowe

The facility is likely to be built on brownfield land within the port (image credit: diamond geezer, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license).

Scottish Power has announced (8 August) plans to build a 100-MW green hydrogen production facility at the Port of Felixstowe, on the Suffolk coast. It will be used to power vehicles and machinery used at the port, in addition to shipping and rail freight supplying it.

The utility estimates the costs of the project as between £100m and £150m, and it has applied to the UK government’s Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, which has set aside up to £240m to fund hydrogen production. It will provide enough fuel to power 1300 hydrogen trucks from 2026, in current plans.

Roughly 6,000 heavy good vehicles per year use the port, which is owned by Hutchison Ports, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based conglomerate CK Hutchison.

Electricity to power the electrolysis at the plants is to be supplied by Scottish Power’s UK-based wind farms.

Demand from the port itself, and associated logistics, distribution and rail freight companies, is said to have provided the impetus for the development. The utility said demand for hydrogen increased last year following the increase in petrol and diesel prices.

Speaking to The Guardian, the firm’s Hydrogen Director Barry Carruthers said hydrogen’s costs are “now comparable with diesel”, leaving very little reason not to press ahead with something that can be “cheaper and cleaner for customers”.

The project might also assist with the supply of green ammonia for fertilizer production, responding to the fertilizer supply chain issues seemingly caused by the war in Ukraine.

It is likely to be built on brownfield land within the port’s environs, and “it will not dominate the skyline” Carruthers told The Guardian, adding that, for locals, it should mean less diesel pollution and cleaner power for trains and lorries.

Scottish Power is working on other green hydrogen production facilities at Whitelee windfarm near Glasgow, where a 20-MW electrolyser is scheduled to begin working in 2023, making up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen per day, and at the Port of Cromarty Firth. A feasibility study has looked at adding electrolysers to the latter site, with a final investment decision expected by 2023.

Parent firm Iberdrola, a €63bn Spanish energy utility, already operates Europe’s largest green hydrogen production facility for industrial use, at Puertollano in Spain.

Carruthers said: “This strategically important project could potentially create a clean fuels hub that could unlock nationally significant decarbonisation for the region, as well as playing a role in international markets. It’s perfectly located not far from our existing and future offshore windfarms in the East Anglia region, and demonstrates how renewable electricity and green hydrogen can now start to help to decarbonise road, rail, shipping and industry.”

Dr Therese Coffey MP, local MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I warmly welcome Hutchison Ports’ and Scottish Power’s joint plans to explore opportunities for a large-scale hydrogen hub at the Port of Felixstowe, providing green fuel at the UK’s largest container port. It’s schemes like this – and investment from industry as well as government – which is crucial for us to reach net zero by 2050.”