The world’s first large-scale 100% hydrogen-fuelled power station could be up and running in north-east England by the end of the decade, as part of a joint venture between Norway’s Equinor and SSE PLC (LON:SSE).

Equinor has agreed to significantly increase its planned ‘grey’ hydrogen production capacity in the UK to 1.8 gigawatts (GW) of the low-carbon fuel.

This would represent a large portion of the UK’s 5GW target for hydrogen production for 2030.

The Norwegian energy giant is the operator of the H2H project in Saltend near Hull, a 600 MW gas reformer that will produce hydrogen from natural gas with carbon capture (CCS), known as ‘grey’ hydrogen.

This will enable industrial users at Saltend Chemicals Park and the onsite Saltend Cogeneration Power Station to switch to a hydrogen fuel blend to reduce CO2 emissions from the park by nearly 1mln tonnes annually.

To increase hydrogen capacity Equinor aims to add another 1.2 GW of hydrogen production and infrastructure to transport and store CO2 from this and other nearby projects.

The increase in capacity is principally to fuel the nearby Keadby Hydrogen power station that Equinor is co-developing with SSE Thermal.

“With appropriate policy mechanisms in place, Keadby Hydrogen power station could come online before the end of the decade,” Equinor said.

The new hydrogen production capacity was agreed as part of a trip by UK energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to Norway, where he met counterpart Tina Bru in Oslo.

Equinor’s chief executive Anders Opedal said: “Without CCS and hydrogen, at scale, there is no viable path to net zero and realising the Paris goals. Our low-carbon projects in the UK build on our own industrial experience and will play a major role in setting the UK’s industrial heartlands in a leading position. The projects will also contribute to provide hydrogen and low carbon solutions to three to five industrial clusters by 2035.”