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BP to develop UK’s largest hydrogen factory in Teesside

March 20, 2021

By Paul Homewood



h/t Patsy Lacey

Starry eyed Rachel Millard forgets to ask how much this will cost the taxpayer:



BP is planning to build a vast hydrogen factory in Teesside to provide energy for local industry and homes.

Its H2Teesside could be producing hydrogen from natural gas – so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen – by 2027 or earlier with a target of generating 1GW of hydrogen by 2030.

The Government wants to develop 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 as part of its effort to cut carbon emissions.

Hydrogen does not emit carbon when burned, although making it from natural gas as opposed to via electrolysis (dubbed ‘green’ hydrogen) does produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide.

How hydrogen output could expand in the coming decades, using carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS):




I can guarantee one thing – this investment will only go ahead on the back of massive subsidies, probably via a Contracts for Difference type scheme, similar to the way offshore wind farms are subsidised.

In short, BP will be paid a guaranteed price for all the hydrogen it produces, which will probably be triple the price of natural gas. The cost of this will be passed back to energy consumers.

Based on that BEIS document I wrote about yesterday, a 1 GW plant will cost in the region of £529 million, excluding any carbon capture plant:



The steam reforming process uses 1.355 times as much natural gas as it converts; ie the process wastes about a quarter of the energy input. When operating expenses are thrown in such a plant would lose BP in the region of £250 million a year, if its output was sold at the market price for natural gas, which is £14/MWh.

  1. Peter F Gill permalink
    March 20, 2021 6:11 pm

    I know that BP has rebranded itself Beyond Petroleum but this is BR Beyond Reason.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      March 21, 2021 12:17 pm

      Not really if there is plenty of taxpayer cash to fund it. I only hope that as a shareholder the management are aware of the risks of something that only exists on the basis of subsidy. It seems that they did at Shell because as soon as taxpayer cash for a CCS pilot stopped they cancelled it.

  2. John Palmer permalink
    March 20, 2021 6:12 pm

    Not really off topic, the “Bottom Line” on BBC R4 this evening was a paean to Hydrogen as an answer to everything. They spoke of CCS as if it was all up-and-running and were confident that the (ludicrous) cost of ‘Green Hydrogen’ will fall rapidly over the next 30 years (!!!!). So, we don’t need to worry our poor little (scientific) heads, just keep throwing-in the ££billions and everything will be just hunky-dory.

    • Peter F Gill permalink
      March 20, 2021 11:03 pm

      Good to hear from you John and pleased that your comments are measured and you have only under estimated the waste of money by a few factors of ten.

      • John Palmer permalink
        March 21, 2021 9:27 am

        Thanks Peter, as you know, I’m noted for my moderation – and never was much good with a calculator!
        All best,

    • March 21, 2021 7:47 am

      Yes, I had it on in the background. It was pretty pathetic really, but the main problem with these BBC programmes (apart from the BBC bias – they only have people from one side of the argument) is that the presenters (such as Evan Davies) haven’t any technical knowledge and don’t know what questions they should be asking.

  3. Andrew Harding permalink
    March 20, 2021 6:21 pm

    We are dealing with idiots! As well as failing to comprehend that an increase in atmospheric CO2 from 3 molecules to 4, in every 10,000 will not make a jot of difference to the climate. They fail to understand that producing H2 from any source requires an enormous amount of energy due to the strength of the atomic bonds between hydrogen and other elements, especially, Oxygen!

    • Cheshire Red permalink
      March 20, 2021 9:24 pm

      It’ll use oxygen? Oh no, that means there’s going to be an oxygen crisis!

  4. Tim Leeney permalink
    March 20, 2021 6:51 pm

    If it’s going to be raining money (again), why should BP not apply for some of it, whatever they believe about carbon.

  5. Steve permalink
    March 20, 2021 7:30 pm

    The Crown Estate owns the seabed and charges for the offshore wind farms, which ends up on the consumer bill. It’s really another tax. The Treasury will be equally keen to collect the tsx for burying the gas under the seabed.

  6. Gamecock permalink
    March 20, 2021 7:37 pm

    I’m confused.

    ‘target of generating 1GW of hydrogen by 2030.

    The Government wants to develop 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 as part of its effort to cut carbon emissions.’

    GW? What does that mean? Giga Watts? How do you measure a gas in giga Watts?

    And . . . .

    ‘the market price for natural gas, which is £14/MWh.’

    Natural gas in mega Watt hours? Wat?

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      March 20, 2021 8:53 pm

      GC – it’s an admission that H2 is an energy carrier not a fuel! Now all we need to do is convert it to homes and we’re done.

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      March 20, 2021 9:02 pm

      Meant to add that we pay for NG by the kWh in the UK. It’s good really, because that stops them adulterating it with CO2 or N2 or glory knows what – except that the meter actually measures volume I assume. How could it or I possibly know?

    • March 20, 2021 9:30 pm

      The 1 GW is the capacity of the hydrogen plant, the usual sloppy media reporting who do not understand the differnence between MW and MWh

      The market price for gas is around £14/MWh, which equals 40p per therm

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        March 21, 2021 2:20 pm

        Paul it is not just “sloppy media reporting” take a look at this website from a wind turbine manufacturer.
        It quite clearly states
        “One A311 Vertical Axis Wind Turbine can generate as much power as 24 solar panels.
        24 solar panels measuring 1m2 will produce 6KW per day.”
        I emailed them to point out that there was such unit as “kW per day” but got no response nor did they correct their site. Should allegedly serious engineers make such sloppy mistakes?
        They are putting these things on the 02 arena. A simple run through the power calculation for a VAWT of the given dimensions indicates a real world output of just 88watts in a 25mph wind!

        But then have a look at the limited company – you will note the two “Fred in the shed” type inventors also have two knighthoods as fellow directors sharing thousands of shares in a £1 company.

  7. March 20, 2021 8:45 pm

    BP will have the necessary government assurances. They are just playing along with the scam, they know what the job is, like so many other grifters out there taking our government thieved money. I’ll be running my 1993 car as long as it passes an MoT, my little contribution to passive disobedience.

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 20, 2021 10:14 pm

      My GT350R. Nothing passive about it.

  8. Cheshire Red permalink
    March 20, 2021 9:34 pm

    Paul, I have an idea.

    Has anyone suggested to Boris we extract our own supply of natural gas from under the midlands and north? They say there’s loads of the stuff. It could be done without subsidies, without government intervention, would raise (not cost) billions in tax revenues and could make the UK energy self-sufficient for decades.

    Also the whole country is already geared up for gas, so that’s another benefit.

    I reckon nobody has flagged this idea up to Boris & Co. They can’t have because if they had he’d be all over it wouldn’t he?

    I mean, he’d have to be spectacularly stupid to overlook such an obvious opportunity in favour of rubbish ideas like wind and solar wouldn’t he, and we know he’s not stupid (nor is his cabinet of incredibly talented Ministers) so clearly nobody has told him about this golden opportunity for using our own gas. That’s the only possible explanation.

    • MikeHig permalink
      March 20, 2021 11:57 pm

      Some years ago Boris wrote an article for the Spectator (maybe when he was editor) extolling the virtues of exploiting our shale resources via fracking. Ironic.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        March 21, 2021 8:53 am

        Our ‘leaders’ hate us.

      • March 21, 2021 12:53 pm

        ‘Our Leaders Hate us’. Too few people understand or acknowledge that. It should be the starting point of any fight back. Been suggesting it for years. the perplexing, insidiously evil and downright daft government initiatives over the last many decades, I’d go as far as to say since the last war, bare credence to that. Government ‘stupidity is calculated despoiling of the nation for nefarious political reasons.

      • John Palmer permalink
        March 21, 2021 9:31 am

        He was also quoted as saying something about wind power unable to pull the skin off a rice pudding, as I recall.
        Aah, the magical powers of Ms Nut Nuts!

  9. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 20, 2021 10:00 pm

    In theory hydrogen from natural gas produces roughly 84.6% CO2 AND 15.4% hydrogen.
    Then there is the practical case (as pointed out by Paul above) of the extra 35% of methane used, so the yield of hydrogen is more like one third of the natural gas used.
    One unit of methane (in theory) produces 0.5 units of hydrogen and 2.75 units of CO2.(the increase in weight comes from the steam used, which supplies half the hydrogen generated), so 2.75 by 1.35 (3.7 units of CO2).
    Are those 3.7 units are going to be sequested? In which case the cost of that should be added to the cost of the hydrogen.
    Perhaps The Times could explain how generating 3.7 units of the (dreaded global warming) ‘carbon’ for each ‘green’ unit of fuel is a reduction?

  10. Gary Kerkin permalink
    March 20, 2021 10:14 pm

    I’m puzzled. What happens to the carbon in natural gas when hydrogen is removed?

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 21, 2021 1:13 am

      It is turned into carbon dioxide, you know the cause of (non existent) catastrophic global warming.
      Having an interest in dinosaurs I have always wondered why those huge warm blooded creatures didn’t die of heat stress when the carbon dioxide level was 4 to 7 times the current level.

      • Gary Kerkin permalink
        March 21, 2021 8:07 am


    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 21, 2021 12:14 pm

      Well firstly if it was just carbon (C) it would only be a problem of where to put it. Nobody claims carbon itself is a problem after all what are diamonds made of?! The issue is (allegedly) with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and the separation and then storage of that is the real problem. One solution would be to separate the hydrogen and not create any CO2 (just C) which most certainly can be done. Here is a detailed explanation.
      Which begs the question – why is this not being promoted by the greenies?

  11. MikeHig permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:02 am

    It’s not just BP. There’s a number of substantial hydrogen projects being floated for that neck of the woods. This article covers one and includes links to others:

    • Gamecock permalink
      March 21, 2021 12:07 pm

      ‘hydrogen is produced by converting natural gas into hydrogen’

      This should be a criminal offense.

  12. TedL permalink
    March 21, 2021 3:36 am

    Hydrogen is the lightest of gases and leaks easily from containment. Produced and consumed in the quantities needed to power the economy means billions of valves and connections that will all unavoidably leak. Compared to present volumes, this will result in an enormous increase in ambient levels of hydrogen. Because it is so much lighter than air, the gas will rise through the atmosphere until it reaches the stratosphere where it will encounter the ozone layer. Ozone is highly reactive and will combine with the hydrogen to form water molecules, destroying the ozone layer and substituting a layer of ice crystal, altering the earth’s albedo. I do not pretend to know what losing the ozone layer will do to life on earth, or what a stratospheric cloud of ice crystals will do to insolation and global temperature, but I bet the effects would be significant.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      March 21, 2021 8:55 am

      H2 is leaky, sneaky and explosive. A much better fuel can be made by adding some C atoms, we could call it gas….

      • A C Osborn permalink
        March 21, 2021 9:48 am

        It is has less calorific value.
        A lose, lose, lose all round.

  13. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 21, 2021 12:02 pm

    Why does science get thrown out the window whenever environmentalists get involved? There are significant issues to be overcome with so called “green” hydrogen” and not just the obvious ones being that electrolysis from “renewable” sources of electricity is both fabulously wasteful and ridiculously expensive.
    Naturally occurring “free” hydrogen (H2) is actually very rare on earth as most is bound up in compounds such as water. Not all produced hydrogen is the same. H2 exists predominantly in two forms, Orthohydrogen where the two proton nuclear spins are aligned in parallel and Parahydrogen where the two proton spins are aligned antiparallel. These are known a “spin isomers”. Parahydrogen has a lower energetic state than orthohydrogen.
    At standard temperature and pressure the usual mix is 75 to 25% in favour of orthohydrogen when produced by either SMR (steam methane reformation) or Pyrolysis of Methane (this latter method incidentally produces no CO2 so requires no CCS but does require disposal of elemental Carbon) Production by electrolysis tends to lead to a higher ratio of orthohydrogen. The subsequent pressurisation and storage of this latter produced hydrogen leads to the transition of some of this orthohydrogen down to parahydrogen with the consequent release of energy as heat. Heat build up in such a storage situation is an exceptionally problematic situation to say the least!
    I have no idea why the scientists of this world are seemingly keeping quiet about the sheer folly of the whole concept of using hydrogen as an energy carrier when it is so hugely impractical and blatantly obviously dangerous. Whenever real scientists (such as Nobel laureate George Olah) have considered hydrogen they have always suggested furthering the process into synthesizing hydrocarbons as the only practical real world solution. But of course that option is even more wasteful, expensive and even more unpalatable to the Green persuasion.,hydrogen%20economy%20or%20ethanol%20economy.
    The only real alternative to fossil fuels at scale is nuclear.

    • MikeHig permalink
      March 21, 2021 5:10 pm

      Ray S: interesting post – I wasn’t aware of the orth/para issue with hydrogen and the energy release when ortho “decays”.
      However I wonder whether said release is significant because hydrogen from SMRs is routinely compressed to 200 bar for transport in tube trailers. There must be quite a bit of ortho decaying to para but it does not seem to cause problems.
      Another example: in the case for hydrogen fuel stations for FCEVs, the gas is produced electrolytically and then compressed to 700 bar.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        March 21, 2021 8:06 pm

        Perhaps I should clarify the point I was making. ” the usual mix is 75 to 25% in favour of orthohydrogen when produced by either SMR (steam methane reformation) or Pyrolysis of Methane.” and this is the normal mix that naturally occurs at standard temperature and pressure in thermal equilibrium so no problem.
        “Production by electrolysis tends to lead to a higher ratio of orthohydrogen.”
        i. e. there is more than 75% ortho and it is this “excess” that decays down to parahydrogen and releases heat energy. It is the electrolysis production that causes the “unnatural” state.
        With regard to the hydrogen fuel stations the fuel is used relatively quickly and storage amounts are small hence little temperature build up. Switching to a large scale hydrogen system requires long term storage at massive scale and this is where the problems start.

    • MikeHig permalink
      March 21, 2021 9:28 pm

      Ray S: thanks for the explanation – all clear now.

  14. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 21, 2021 2:14 pm

    Another Looney scheme.

  15. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 21, 2021 2:32 pm

    A few years ago, power engineer Andy Dawson put forward a straightforward solution (if one were needed) to “decarbonise” the UK grid published on Euan Mearn’s Energy Matters site. Everything to do this is currently available and reliable technology with no hydrogen required at all. France has already set a precedent for this so why on Earth are we messing about with all this half baked nonsense?

  16. Vernon E permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:53 pm

    I have just three comments on the above thread, a lot of which is drivel

    1 There is nothing new or novel about using hydrogen as a domestic gas; towns gas for
    decades was a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide

    2 When posters refer to gases etc will they please state the units they are using. As Pauil
    says it has been commonplace over decades to refer to fuel gases in Kw or, as LNG was
    originally traded, MM BTU. Otherwise, volumes please.

    3 Can we please put to bed once and for all that we have a source of “buried” narural gas
    or as I think was intended, shale gas. It was tried, failed and our shales are simply not
    sufficiently permable to yield gas commercially. End of, done, over.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 21, 2021 9:10 pm

      “Can we please put to bed” was that a subtle pun on Coalbed Methane? Actually I would beg to differ on that point. I live in the area of the Kent coalfield and at nearby Barfrestone there were some promising results. The whole thing was stopped by the high profile Balcombe fracking issue but I would not be surprised to see it return in the future.

      Click to access promote_uk_cbm_2012.pdf

      Hopefully the link above still works.

  17. Vernon E permalink
    March 21, 2021 4:59 pm

    Final point on this topic. When producing hydrogen via steam reforming the carry-over of amine droplets from the CO2 regenerator in unavoidable. When ICI ran their ammonia plants at Billingham the regular stink was infamous. For miles around – certainly in Stockton where I lived. Those plants were on a much smaller scale than what is being envisaged today.

    • MikeHig permalink
      March 21, 2021 5:17 pm

      Vernon: your post reminded me of stories about the odours around Billingham when ICI was a client of the company I worked for.
      However, my memory is that it was attributed to amines formed as a by-product/contaminant from the ammonia plant, not the steam reformer. That could be mistaken – it was a long time ago!

      • Vernon E permalink
        March 21, 2021 7:02 pm

        Mike; the two are one and the same. The reformer makes hydrogen and CO2 which is absorbed by amine solution and the hydrogen goes on to make ammonia.

    • Peter F Gill permalink
      March 21, 2021 7:12 pm

      Vernon: The nonsense is to produce hydrogen from natural gas. The word nonsense refers to the economics. You are of course right on your points (1) and (2) Indeed there were many approaches to gasification of coal depending on the use or not of coke/char and so on. On (3) As Cuadrilla does not been allowed to continue testing the concept I think your blanket statement is perhaps a little unwise but it does play well to the anti-fracking folk who would be against it irrespective if its ultimate success or otherwise. Years ago friends were keen on a hydrogen economy but employing nuclear fusion. Sadly of course all nuclear proposals to date have involved melding a 20th or 21st century technology to 19th century steam raising. Pity one cannot be a little more imaginative with magnetic confinement and manipulation. I guess that your justification on the first point is that one must eliminate that climate altering carbon dioxide. Of course most people on this site regard that proposition itself as delusional.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        March 21, 2021 9:04 pm

        Peter the nuclear industry is very much into the H2 production party.
        The distinct advantages that nuclear has are continuity of electricity supply and the option to use High Temperature electrolysis (up to 850°C) which reduces the amount of electricity required by using much cheaper heat.

        Regarding the “magnetic confinement and manipulation” are you referring to fusion? If so, I think the Chinese might be seriously looking at the Helium 3 option hence their recent elaborate trip to the moon and back….you don’t need much of the stuff.

  18. Jack Broughton permalink
    March 21, 2021 8:36 pm

    None of the eco-nut-nuts seem to have realised the danger that the increased hydrogen leakage, as production and distribution increase, poses to the ozone layer. Unlike natural gas it shoots through the atmosphere, due to its low density, and reaches the ozone layer where it will mop up the ozone very rapidly.

    There were a number of papers published on this topic about 20 years ago, including even Nature! These have been conveniently overlooked by the powerful people who will extract billions of tax payers’ money to develop hydrogen usage.

    Not only ridiculously expensive but a real case of the infamous law of unintended consequences

  19. Gamecock permalink
    March 22, 2021 11:13 am

    And there is no odorant for hydrogen. Unlike nat gas, we have no way to make hydrogen gas smell. If it leaks in your house, you will never know it; the coroner will figure it out.

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