Leading UK glass container manufacturer Encirc to power furnace using 300MW of hydrogen supplied from a plant close to the River Mersey as part of the £47bn HyNet project. Tony McDonough reports
A Cheshire firm producing 3bn glass bottles and containers a year has signed a hydrogen supply deal as part of the £47bn HyNet hydrogen project.
Encirc has signed a heads of terms agreement with Vertex, which is leading the HyNet consortium. This deal will see 300MW of hydrogen supplied from a plant at the Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, close to the River Mersey.
Part of the Vidrala Group, Encirc supplies around a third of all glass bottles and containers made for the UK and Republic of Ireland each year. It will build a new ultra-low carbon furnace on its Cheshire site.
This furnace will be fuelled by an energy mix of green electricity and hydrogen. It will be operational by 2027. Encirc is aiming to be the first in the world to produce net zero glass bottles at scale by 2030.
Adrian Curry, managing director of Encirc said: “This partnership with Vertex Hydrogen will help us to change the face of glass as we aim to produce Net Zero bottles by 2030.
“Glass is an incredible material and sustainable in so many ways. It has been around since 3500 BC, and by using hydrogen to decarbonise it, we believe it will be the packaging choice for centuries to come.”
HyNet is focused on what is called ‘blue hydrogen’. This is hydrogen produced by burning natural gas. But instead of the carbon being released into the air and fuelling climate change, it will be captured and stored in depleted gas fields under Liverpool Bay.
However, this method is seen by some experts as controversial. Carbon capture and storage has yet to be delivered on this scale. However, HyNet remains confident it will succeed when it is fired up in late 2025.
HyNet is also investing in a number of smaller ‘green hydrogen’ projects. These will see hydrogen produced by running electricity generated by wind or solar through what is called an electrolyser. It is a carbon-free process.
However, in an interview with LBN in September, HyNet project director David Parkin said green hydrogen at scale was not yet viable, unlike blue hydrogen. He said the infrastructure being built by HyNet was also geared towards green hydrogen.
Joe Seifert, chief executive of Vertex Hydrogen, said: “Glass bottles are an everyday and highly recyclable product we all use. We are delighted to be powering our neighbours Encirc who, along with Diageo, are leading the charge in decarbonising the drinks industry.”