UK’s first waste-to-hydrogen plant gets approval

Materials World magazine
9 Mar 2020
hydrogen to waste facility

A hydrogen processing plant has secured planning permission, which will make it the first of its kind in the UK. 

A novel energy-from-waste project has gained approval from Cheshire West and Chester Council authorities. The £7mln low-carbon, waste-to-hydrogen facility will be located on a 54ha site called Protos, near Ellesmere Port in the north of England. 

The Protos plant is being developed by Peel Environmental and Waste2Tricity, and will use technology created by PowerHouse Energy Group. This advanced thermal treatment technology, called distributed modular generation, will enable the plant to process up to 35 tonnes of unrecyclable plastic waste per day to convert it into hydrogen.

‘This closed loop solution tackles the country’s problem of how to dispose of unrecyclable plastic while producing a clean fuel for the future,’ said Waste2Tricity’s John Hall.

With planning approvals secured, work on the facility is due to start in late 2020, with the plant expected to be operational in 2021. The local authorities hope the facility will provide a cheap and low-carbon source of fuel for road vehicle users adopting hydrogen-powered vehicles, including cars, buses and heavy goods vehicles, to lower pollution levels. 

It will also help nearby businesses to lower their carbon footprints, by generating electricity to supply to commercial customers via a microgrid system. 

‘This is hugely significant for Cheshire and the wider region, demonstrating how we are rising to the challenge of being the UK’s first low-carbon industrial cluster and setting a standard for others to follow,' said Peel Environmental Managing Director, Myles Kitcher. 

‘There is huge potential for hydrogen to replace fossil-fuels in our transport system. We already have hydrogen buses in Liverpool and trains being converted to hydrogen in Widnes. Using waste plastic to generate a local source of hydrogen could not only help to reduce our reliance on landfill but improve local air quality with a clean and low-cost fuel for buses, HGVs and cars.’ 

The fabrication and construction phase will create 100 jobs in the region, after which there will be 14 full-time jobs made for operations.

Since gaining approvals, the partnership has sought opportunities to develop 10 more facilities at sites across the UK, as part of a £130mln investment programme. 

Looking further ahead, Peel Environmental is working to develop a closed loop solution at Protos where plastics are recycled on-site with the leftover material used to create hydrogen.

Image: Representation of the hydrogen-to-waste site. Credit: Peel Environmental/Waste2Tricity.