A £1.5 billion Net Zero project officially began today (September 27) with a groundbreaking ceremony which will eventually bring thousands of jobs to Teesside by 2027.

Politicians, officials and investors gathered at Teesworks in Redcar this morning following the signing of a lease agreement between Net Zero Teesside and partners bp and Equinor to construct NZT Power - with aims for the facility to be the world's first gas-fired power station with carbon capture technology.

Once up and running, 860 megawatts of low-carbon electricity will be generated which will be enough to power up to 1.3 million homes. Two million tonnes of CO2 emissions from the site will then be captured and moved 90 miles offshore to a storage site built underneath the North Sea.

Read more: Six-week consultation on bp proposals for H2Teesside

The Northern Echo: From left, Ben Houchen, Martin Corney and Matt Johnson of Teesworks and Andy Lane of bp, Hydrogen and CCS UK.From left, Ben Houchen, Martin Corney and Matt Johnson of Teesworks and Andy Lane of bp, Hydrogen and CCS UK. (Image: The Northern Echo)

After six years in the making, the project finally broke ground today on the site of the former Redcar Steelworks, with estimates that 4,000 jobs will be created in the process including when the construction of the facility itself begins in September 2024.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen opened the event with a cinematic trailer and look back on the steelworks site set to the tune of A-ha's 'Take On Me' that hailed the NZT Power and Teesworks as "creating a new legacy" for Teesside.

Mr Houchen first spoke of the many "twists and turns" that have led to the ground being broken at the site, with bp chiefs predicting that 3,000 people will be working at the site by 2025.

The Northern Echo: bp Vice President of Hydrogen and CCF Andy Lane.bp Vice President of Hydrogen and CCF Andy Lane. (Image: STUART BOULTON)

He added: "I am very proud to stand up here and say we are delivering what we promised to local people following the closure of the steelworks in 2015.

"Often people think that there is a lot of political buster in these things, we have promised a lot and that is why it was so important to get to today and show that it is completely real... there is more to come."

Mayor Houchen was later joined by Teesworks Director Matt Johnson, bp Vice President for Hydrogen and CCUS UK Andy Lane and Chair of the Tees Valley Business Board Siobhan McArdle.

bp official Andy Lane was the first to praise the project and the milestone it has reached and hailed Teesside as a "world leader".

Andy Lane: "This is a project that is really close to my heart. It is a particularly proud moment for me to be here today at this significant milestone and to see the site begin to get ready for us to begin construction.

The Northern Echo: From left, Mayor Ben Houchen, Andy Lane, Matt Johnson and Siobhan McArdle.From left, Mayor Ben Houchen, Andy Lane, Matt Johnson and Siobhan McArdle. (Image: STUART BOULTON)

"There is a great vision for the Teesworks site here in the Tees Valley. It shows the ambition and scale of what could be done here.

"Teesside has been a world leader before, and has the potential to be a world leader again."

Following the conference, Mayor Houchen operated a digger to break the ground at the site and was questioned whether there was previously any concern that the project would not go ahead.

This comes after concerns allegations of "industrial scale corruption" from Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald emerged in May of this year, raising questions of wether investors would back out of the site.

The Mayor said: "There are always huge obstacles with huge infrastructure projects. Since we first attracted NZT to have a conversation five years ago we were still in competition with other sites.

The Northern Echo: Mayor Ben Houchen.Mayor Ben Houchen. (Image: STUART BOULTON)

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"It was only in the last six months that we knew this was going to happen, so getting to today where the deals are signed and we have diggers on site we know nothing can stop this from going ahead."

Whilst bp is now the largest investor Teesworks has now benefitted from, Mayor Houchen has confirmed that there are further deals on the way which could be revealed before 2024.

He added: "At Teesworks we are at the end stage of two other contracts for major investors, so I would be amazed if we have not made more public announcements with new deals by the end of the year."