Our proposals are to create an onshore network of underground pipelines for the Humber region to transport captured carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Together, these pipelines will help the Humber region to decarbonise, supporting a low carbon future, the region’s economy and the UK’s vision for net zero by 2050.

Our proposed pipeline network will comprise two underground pipelines – one for carbon dioxide and the other for hydrogen.

The pipelines are intended to connect to major industrial emitters and power stations in the Humber region, such as Drax, the new power station at Keadby, British Steelin Scunthorpe, Uniper’s Killingholme site near Immingham and Equinor’s proposals for hydrogen production at Saltend. 

The pipelines will continue to a landfall point on the Holderness coast. The onshore carbon dioxide pipeline will then connect to an offshore pipeline to the Endurance offshore storage location. There is also potential for the hydrogen pipeline to connect into SSE Thermal and Equinor’s plans for a hydrogen storage facility at Aldbrough.

The project will also include a number of above ground installations and a tunnel under the River Humber.

Developing this infrastructure is essential for accelerating the decarbonisation of industry and creating and protecting thousands of jobs in the region, as well as making the Humber a hub for clean energy technologies.

 

Route corridor options map

Route corridor options

We have developed broad route corridor options (roughly one kilometre wide) within which the underground pipelines and associated infrastructure would be located. In some areas we have more than one potential route corridor option. While the hydrogen pipeline and carbon dioxide pipeline may run in parallel along sections of the indicative route corridor, this will be subject to the needs of each location. Our routeing and design plans will be informed by the next stage of the Government’s cluster sequencing decision for CCUS deployment, alongside technical studies, site investigations and the feedback we receive through consultation. We intend to hold further rounds of consultation in 2022.

Route evolution – corridor options appraisal

Our initial appraisal started in 2019 when we identified a wide range of possible pipeline route corridor options and assessed the broad constraints across a study area spanning the north and south of the Humber.

Humber Route Corridor Earlier Options High Level

 

Through further analysis we identified physical, environmental and social features that could influence the routeing options, alongside technical constraints, the location of emitters and consideration of other existing or proposed developments in the region. This led to the emergence of two potential route configurations:

Configuration A (including potential sub-options): this route would run underground from Drax power station to Killingholme, cross the Humber via a tunnel then continue from Saltend to a landfall location.  

Simplified Map of Config A

 

Configuration B (including potential sub-options]: this route would run underground from Drax power station to Killingholme in the south of the Humber, cross the  River Ouse, travel north of the Humber to Saltend and then continue on to the landfall.

Simplified Map of Config B

 

In addition, we initially narrowed down various potential route corridors to a landfall down to three options. Further analysis has allowed us to further refine this to two potential landfall options.

Emerging route options

Following the initial appraisal, Configuration A was identified as the preferred option on the balance of environmental, social, technical and cost factors. Configuration B options were approximately 50 kilometres longer than the Configuration A route corridor options, with consequently greater impacts on environmental receptors, disruption during construction and cost.

Both Configuration A and B involve crossing the Humber Estuary, which benefits from the protection of several important biodiversity designations. A Habitats Regulations Assessment will be undertaken as part of the development consent order application to assess the effects on designated sites.

We have brought forward route corridors and options for consultation based on Configuration A.

As part of our first round of consultation, we invited feedback from local residents, stakeholders and other interested parties on these route corridor options and any other matters relating to the project.

All comments will be reviewed and considered as part of the process for developing the project further.

 

 

Route corridor options report

For further information on the route corridor options, please read this report, available here.

Above ground installations (AGIs)

While the carbon dioxide and hydrogen pipelines will be located underground, above ground installations (AGIs) will be required at intervals along the route. There are multiple types of AGIs, each with a different purpose. Some allow for safe and efficient operation and maintenance of the pipelines while others allow for regional emitters to connect into the proposed pipelines.

The proposals would require AGI sites at or near the emitter locations, including pipeline inspection gauges (PIG) trap installations to enable internal monitoring and inspection of the pipelineand block valves. PIG traps would be located at Drax, Keadby, British Steel, Saltend and Killingholme, with a pumping facility near the landfall at the coast. Block valves would be required along the route corridor at approximate intervals of 16 to 18 kilometres. These enable the isolation of a section of the pipeline for maintenance work and are relatively small in size.

AGIs will contain above ground equipment and pipework, essential instruments and one or more small buildings. Each will also have a vehicular access point as well as planting, screening and fencing.

Work on identifying the siting options for AGI sites will be undertaken in collaboration with emitters based on the connection point onto the proposed pipeline. Further details on this will be available at our second round of consultation in early 2022 once additional design work has been completed and a preferred route corridor has been selected.

 

PIG trap image of Pipeline

*Illustrative image of a PIG trap

AGIs come in a variety of sizes dependent on the type. Screening and planting will help to minimise any visual impacts and this will be investigated further as the design of the project is developed.

The pumping facility would be located no more than five kilometres from the landfall locations. The site would likely contain a variety of buildings and equipment, including the pumps.

Caring for the environment

The project will make an important contribution to helping the Humber region to transition to a low carbon future. By safely transporting captured carbon dioxide from major emitters, it will support the decarbonisation of the Humber region while supporting the regional economy.

The pipelines and associated above ground installations will be designed to minimise their impact on natural habitats and the environment.

The project team will be carrying out a series of surveys, site and route investigations and other assessments to understand the issues and inform the management of potential environmental impacts. This includes initial appraisal of issues such as noise, highways, land use (including agriculture), landscape and visual impact, heritage and archaeology, ecology, geology and ground conditions, water resources, air quality and marine/coastal impacts. 

A comprehensive Environmental Statement will be prepared as part of the planning application. Information on the proposed assessments and initial findings will be available in a Preliminary Environmental Information Report which shall inform later stage consultations planned for 2022.

The pipelines would primarily run through agricultural land and will not be routed through private gardens. Some surveys may be required in areas beyond the pipeline corridor for the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of local habitats and how they might be impacted by the project. There is no intention to carry out surveys in private houses or gardens; these surveys are primarily in agricultural land and we will always work with landowners to seek voluntary access for surveys.

The Humber Low Carbon Pipelines project is committed to ‘biodiversity net gain’. This means we intend to work closely with landowners and other stakeholders to go beyond mitigating our environmental impact with positive initiatives to support biodiversity. Please get in touch if you are involved in proposals, or have ideas for initiatives that National Grid Ventures could consider. 

Constructing an onshore underground pipeline

National Grid has extensive expertise in designing, building and operating safe and effective high-pressure gas pipelines in the UK.

Our approach is to work closely with the local community and other interested parties throughout the planning and construction process. Through construction, we will manage environmental impacts and work to minimise any disruption caused.

How is an onshore underground pipeline built?

 

  1. First, the working width - the total area within which construction work will take place - is marked out.
  2. Next, the topsoil is carefully stripped and stored next to the pipeline route.
  3. The pipeline is delivered in short lengths and placed on supports. These short lengths of pipeline are welded together into longer sections called 'strings'.
  4. The pipeline trench is dug, with the excavated material being stored separately from the topsoil on the opposite side of the trench.
  5. The pipeline 'strings' are lowered into the trench using special vehicles called 'side booms' and welded to the pipeline already laid.
  6. The trench is filled in using the previously excavated material and the topsoil is replaced.
  7. Once the land above the pipeline has been fully reinstated it can be returned to its previous use, for example farming.

This is an illustrative diagram showing the construction process of an onshore pipeline. Please note, these images are based on a single pipeline. The Humber Low Carbon Pipelines project will involve two pipelines and will take a similar approach.

Crossing roads, railways, rivers and canals

To build a pipeline, roads, railways and waterways will need to be crossed. We would use a range of techniques to cross these features to avoid disruption.

Auger bore

A long pit is dug on one side of the crossing with a shaft at the other side. A section of pipe is inserted with an auger - similar to the screw blade on a drill - inside it. This is pushed through to the other shaft, taking the pipe with it. Sections of pipe are welded together as they are pushed through.

Auger Bore

 

Micro tunnel

Shafts are dug at either side of the crossing. A cutting head digs a tunnel beneath it which is lined with concrete segments as it is dug. The pipe is then inserted in sections that are welded together as they are pushed through the tunnel.

Micro Tunnel

 

Horizontal directional drilling

A special steerable drill is used to create an arced hole beneath the crossing, slightly bigger than the pipe. A winch then pulls the pipe through in a string – a long, welded section of pipe assembled on-site.

Horizontal Directional Drilling

 

Open cut

For narrow roads or tracks with a low volume of traffic, a trench is dug across the road, closing it for a few days. The pipe is lowered into the trench welded together in a string and the land is quickly reinstated.

Open Cut

 

*Please note, these images are based on a single pipeline. The Humber Low Carbon Pipelines project will involve two pipelines and will take a similar approach.

Crossing the Humber

Our current proposals would involve a tunnel crossing under the River Humber. We have indicated a broad corridor within which the pipeline tunnel would be constructed.  Further details on the route, environmental considerations and the construction process will be available at our second round of consultation in early 2022.

How we construct a tunnel

 

Shaft construction

Shaft construction

Shafts are built on either side of the river. These can be vertical or sloped, depending on geological and engineering considerations.

 

 

 

 

Tunnel boring

Tunnel boring

A tunnel bore machine digs the tunnel beneath the river.

This can bore through anything from hard rock to sand.

 

 

 

 

 

Concrete lining

Concrete lining

The tunnel is lined with concrete segments as it is dug.

The excavated material is transported for use or disposal away from the site. We are investigating options for its reuse.

 

 

 

String fabrication and pipeline pulling

 

String fabrication and pipeline pulling

The pipeline is pulled through the tunnel from the surface in 'strings' - long, welded sections of pipe assembled on-site on one side of the river.

Once complete, the tunnel shafts are filled and the land reinstated as close to its original condition as practical.

*These images are illustrative and for consultation purposes only

 

What happens at landfall and offshore?

One of the pipelines will transport captured carbon dioxide emissions to a pumping facility near the coast. At the pumping facility, the pressure of the carbon dioxide will be increased allowing for efficient transportation via an offshore sub-sea pipeline to a safe storage site beneath the North Sea.

We understand the importance of the coast and marine environment. We would ensure there is minimal disruption to coastal features during the construction of the pipeline, and ensure any necessary reinstatement following its completion.  Further information will be available on this at future consultations.

There will be a separate application for the offshore sub-sea pipeline which will connect from the landfall point on the Holderness Coast to the Endurance storage site in the southern North Sea.

Journey to net zero

Along with Low Carbon Pipelines in the Humber region, discover what else we're doing to make a net zero future a reality for everyone.

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