INEOS, the world’s largest multinational chemical producer, has committed to invest €2 billion (£1.7 billion) in green hydrogen production across Europe as it seeks to decarbonise its operations and enter new markets.
The first electrolysers will be built in Norway and Germany over the next 10 years, followed by plants in Belgium, France and the UK, said the company, founded by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe.
This announcement coincides with the launch of The UK Hydrogen Roadshow, a partnership between bus manufacturer Wrightbus, hydrogen distribution firm Ryze Hydrogen, and hydrogen production company INEOS through its INOVYN subsidiary, will see the world’s first hydrogen double decker bus, the Wrightbus Hydroliner, travel a 600-mile route as it makes its way from London to Glasgow for the UN’s climate conference, COP26.
INEOS claims it will be Europe’s largest ever investment in electrolysis, the technology used to split water and create zero-carbon hydrogen. We’re not sure that’s the case: earlier this month, UK renewable energy companies Octopus Energy and RES said they plan to invest £3 billion in green hydrogen production across the country by 2030. HyDeal Ambition, the biggest green hydrogen project ever announced, intends to build 67 GW of electrolysis capacity in Europe by 2030.
Still, it represents a hugely significant investment from one of the world’s biggest chemical companies. It’s also a potentially important moment for the commercial viability of the sector. INEOS wouldn’t be making this investment if it didn’t expect to make money.
The first plant will be a 20 MW electrolyser in Norway that will help it cut its carbon footprint at its site in Rafnes, where it produces ethylene, propylene and chlorine, among other chemicals. It will also supply green hydrogen to Norway’s transport sector.
Germany will host the second electrolyser, a 100 MW unit in Koln that will help INEOS cut emissions at the site by 120,000 tonnes a year. It will also create green ammonia, which is created from hydrogen to transport the fuel over long distances before being converted back into hydrogen.
Details of the projects in Belgium, France and the UK have not initially been released, but the initiative is to be run out INOVYN, a UK-headquartered subsidiary it created in November last year to develop and build green hydrogen capacity.
INEOS has the expertise and experience to make these investments a success. It already produces 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year, but from carbon heavy sources, and has significant electrolyser capacity, which it currently uses to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda).
While this represents a major investment in green hydrogen, we expect to see a lot more in the coming months. The UK has set a 5 GW goal for low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030, while the EU is targeting 6 GW by 2024 and 40 GW by 2030.