Energy transition

Equinor, Engie Plan Partnership To Develop Blue Hydrogen

The Norwegian energy company and the French utility say jointly developing low-carbon hydrogen will pave the way to achieving net-zero emissions in 2050.

Equinor hydrogen.jpg
Credit: Equinor.

Norwegian supermajor Equinor and French multinational electric utility Engie have announced a partnership to jointly develop low-carbon—or “blue”—hydrogen, which they believe will accelerate construction of new hydrogen infrastructure and repurposing of current natural gas infrastructure to pave the way to achieving net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in 2050.

Today, most of the hydrogen in the world is produced from natural gas, but the process also releases climate-warming CO2, making it not sustainable. An alternative is to produce emissions-free—or “green”—hydrogen by splitting water molecules with an electric current produced by renewable energy. That process, however, has been considered too costly so far.

In a joint news release, Equinor and Engie said they will investigate the production and market potential for hydrogen from natural gas from which the carbon dioxide (CO2) is captured and stored permanently offshore. The partnering companies signed a memorandum of understanding to investigate the development of low-carbon hydrogen value chains in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. In the coming months, they will begin discussions with potential customers and with stakeholders and relevant authorities to assess the projects.

According to the announcement, the two companies said they believe that it is essential to develop low-carbon and renewable hydrogen projects at scale to allow industrial customers to significantly reduce CO2 emissions before 2030. Hydrogen produced without CO2 emissions could help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from energy-intensive industries such as cement or steel production by replacing natural gas. Equinor, Europe’s second-largest natural gas supplier after Russia’s Gazprom, is executing the Northern Lights project to store CO2 captured from onshore industrial plants permanently under the seabed in the North Sea. Shell and Total are also equal partners in the project.

“Engie firmly believes that hydrogen will play a key role in the energy transition,” said Edouard Neviaski, chief executive officer of Engie’s business unit global energy management. “Our company produces renewable hydrogen and supports the development of the market for low-carbon hydrogen. Both these technologies will be necessary to accelerate the development of a solid infrastructure and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy,” he said.

Grete Tveit, Equinor’s senior vice president for low-carbon solutions, said, “Equinor aims to be a leading company in the energy transition. We believe that hydrogen and carbon capture and storage will be vital if we are going to succeed with the transition. Collaboration and partnerships will be absolutely necessary to find the best solutions. Our two companies have complementary areas of expertise that we can use to develop low-carbon hydrogen initiatives together.”