Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos backs ‘clean’ hydrogen fund planning UK float

Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos backs ‘clean’ hydrogen fund planning UK float

Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos backs ‘clean’ hydrogen fund planning UK float

Chemicals company to invest at least GBP25m in HydrogenOne Capital Growth as it targets green economy

A hydrogen fuel-cell truck made by Hyundai is seen in Lucerne, Switzerland

Last modified on Mon 5 Jul 2021 16.10 EDT

The chemicals company owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe has agreed to become a cornerstone investor in a new “clean” hydrogen fund that plans to list on the London Stock Exchange later this year.

Ineos, which has made Monaco-based Ratcliffe one of the UK’s richest people, will invest at least GBP25m in HydrogenOne Capital Growth as it plans to raise a total of GBP250m by becoming the first hydrogen specialist to float in the UK.

The world’s third-largest chemical company said the investment would open “new windows into the clean hydrogen world”, which is poised for rapid growth in the emerging green economy by replacing fossil fuels in heavy industry and long-distance transport.

Ineos set out plans to invest in hydrogen plants across Europe late last year, and revealed its next step into the UK hydrogen market weeks before the UK government is expected to launch a strategy worth GBP240m to support hydrogen production.

The government strategy, which could emerge as soon as next week, has been eagerly anticipated by the energy industry to kickstart billions of pounds in investment into production of the clean-burning gas.

Hydrogen is considered a key pillar in the UK government’s plans to end the country’s contribution to the global climate crisis. But it has also raised fears among green groups that the hydrogen industry may rely too heavily on fossil fuels rather than using renewable energy.

HydrogenOne plans to invest in hydrogen projects, including “green hydrogen” – made from renewable energy and water – and “blue hydrogen”, which is extracted from traditional fossil fuel gas, while capturing the remaining carbon emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.

Blue hydrogen has provoked outcry from environmentalists because carbon capture technology is unable to trap all the carbon released as a byproduct of producing hydrogen, meaning some will still contribute to global heating. It may also promote an ongoing reliance on fossil fuel production, which itself is a major source of carbon emissions, according to critics.

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Brian Gilvary, the chairman of Ineos Energy and a veteran of oil firm BP, said its investment in HydrogenOne would help to “accelerate and diversify” the company’s existing hydrogen strategy, and “marks the beginning of another substantial and long-term partnership”.

Centrica, the FTSE 250 owner of British Gas, is also preparing to invest in hydrogen. The company is in talks with the UK government about a GBP650m plan to convert a disused subsea gas storage site off the coast of north-east England to store hydrogen.

Meanwhile, Norway’s state oil company, Equinor, plans to triple the amount of blue hydrogen it produces in the UK, and Royal Dutch Shell last week started production at a green hydrogen plant in Germany.

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