Louise Kingham of global energy giant bp talks exclusively to Business Editor Mike Hughes about plans for two major Teesside projects.


ENERGY group bp has now lodged bids with the Government to build an innovative gas-fired power station with carbon capture, and another for a blue hydrogen plant - which will produce around 20 per cent of the UK’s entire hydrogen target as the country radically switches its energy strategy.

Next, the bids will be considered by the Government, which has already selected the over-arching East Coast Cluster project as one of the UK’s first carbon capture, usage and storage clusters.

Louise Kingham, senior vice president, Europe and head of country, UK at bp told The Northern Echo: “We’re optimistic not just about the provision of low carbon energy for local industry and hopefully some new customers that come here, but also because of what it can do for the region and its people.

“We want to give more people the opportunity to have jobs here, help build careers here and stay here, so for me this is very much about the people we’re investing in with education and skills, the promotion of science and technology and our work with the community.

“It means so much more to us than simply building the kit.”

Read more: BP joins Echo's Level Up campaign

The game-changing East Coast Cluster (ECC) is a consortium of businesses developing a low carbon energy and decarbonisation network on Teesside and in the Humber region that will take the carbon emissions from industries – amounting to almost 50% of the UK’s total industrial cluster emissions – and transport those emissions for safe storage in a vast natural geological under the North Sea called the Endurance aquifer.

The Net Zero Teesside Power Station (NZT Power) will be the UK’s first commercial scale gas fired power station with carbon capture technology. The bp operated NZT Power is a joint venture with Equinor, with the potential to provide enough power for up to 1.3m homes.

Other East Coast Cluster customers will potentially become low carbon businesses thanks to the decarbonisation plans of the ECC– a massive boost to the Government’s plans to turn Britain’s energy and industry green over the next 13 years.

The potential for jobs and for building careers here will be among the best in the world, with the ECC creating more than tens of thousands of jobs at its peak as each element gets designed, built, and operated.

bp is also developing plans for major green hydrogen production in Teesside. The HyGreen Teesside facility aims to achieve around 60MWe of green hydrogen production by 2025, potentially rising to up to 500MWe by 2030, and is expected to help develop Teesside into the UK’s first major hydrogen ‎transport hub.

The hydrogen plants producing blue and green hydrogen represent a new era for the fuel, with large-scale production to feed into an economy hungry for alternative sources.

Earlier plans for H2Teesside, its major blue hydrogen production facility which aims to be up and running within the next five years, is targeting 1GW of hydrogen production by 2030.

Combined, the green and blue hydrogen projects could deliver 30 per cent of the UK Government’s target of developing 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030.

The difference between the two is that blue hydrogen is made from natural gas and CCUS makes it low carbon. When green hydrogen is made, the process is achieved by electrolysis which is generated by carbon-free electricity, produced by renewable energy.

Louise said: “These projects are so vast and far-reaching that some households might think ‘that’s nothing to do with me’.

“But we absolutely want it to be relevant to everyone, so I spend a lot of my time talking to people and asking questions about what will work best and what will appeal to people most so that we can best understand how to reach them.

“We’re doing it the right way so that we can make those connections, just as we have with the offshore wind bids and the other projects we’ve been involved in.

“We are making long-term commitments because we know the impact this scale of work can have when you put boots on the ground, from the supply chain all the way through to connecting with community and everything that goes in between – all part of being a responsible business and a local employer.”

bp will now wait for the verdict on its bids but there is little time left, with the Government committed to fully decarbonising the power ‎system in the UK by 2035.

“Time is of the essence here,” said Louise.

“So, we need to be ambitious and have some of this done well before 2030 because these are big projects, they take time to build, and they’re going to be around for a while, so it’s important that we keep moving.”

Her own background makes her an ideal person to lead the remarkable bp transition from being a passionate advocate of gas and oil to a pioneer of green energy.

She has been with the company for less than a year after 17 years with the Energy Institute, a not-for-profit membership body bringing together expertise to tackle ‘urgent global challenges’.

“I spent two decades sitting at the edge of the tent looking in at the energy industry, telling it to do better,” she says.

“Now I feel like I’ve got a dream job in a position where we’re absolutely wanting to spend billions of pounds to do it for real and with the huge privilege to be able to do it at home in the UK.

“I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t think bp was as fully committed as I am.

“bp is 112 years old and has done one thing for all that time, but now it’s had the biggest reorganisation in its history - turned itself upside down, inside out and back to front.

“But people will still look for proof that it is all a real thing, and this is it - real money being put into real projects and spending a lot of time working out what we are good at and where we can add value.

“How can we help the world do this as well and who do we need to partner with to be really successful.

“That’s why this focus on going from oil and gas to then helping take the industrial emissions out of the harder to abate parts of the economy is such a good place for us to be.

“It makes so much sense, and if we can do this here on Teesside we can then take the model and can do this in other places.”


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