Ineos Raises $3.7 Billion for Hydrogen-Powered Ethylene Plant

Feb. 15, 2023
Company will reuse hydrogen created during the cracking process

Ineos Olefins Belgium raised 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) for a planned ethylene cracker that will operate on low-carbon hydrogen, the company said on Feb. 13.

The plant is part of a sustainable ethylene production initiative from Ineos called Project One that will have capacity of 1,450 kilotons of ethylene per year. The company broke ground on the project in December, with production expected to begin in mid-2026.  The plant will reuse hydrogen produced during the cracking process as fuel for its furnaces.

The project involves major infrastructure investments to support the facility, which will be located in the Port of Antwerp. Ineos will install pumps and pipes to transport the ethylene, storage tanks, an electrical distribution network, utilities and new roadways.

Project One Details

The company estimates the site equals the size of 128 football fields and will require the equivalent of four Eiffel Towers of steel, 1,243 miles of piping and about 8 million working hours to complete. 

A total of 21 commercial banks and four government agencies are supporting the funding effort, according to the company.

“We are thrilled to reach this milestone and secure this funding,” says Jason Meers, chief financial officer of Ineos Project One. “Bringing together such a large number of environmentally focused commercial banks alongside four governmental agencies demonstrates the huge importance of the project.”

The company says the project is a “game changer” for Europe’s chemical industry because most of the recent major chemical investments have been made in Asia, the Middle East or the U.S. 

Scalable Hydrogen Adoption Faces Hurdles

Chemical industry organizations, including the American Chemistry Council, have called for more investment in clean hydrogen and other technologies, such as carbon capture, to meet emissions-reduction goals.

However, wide-scale adoption of clean hydrogen faces some hurdles. In December, a UK committee report determined that hydrogen is not a panacea for meeting the country’s net-zero targets.

“Essential questions remain to be answered as to how, in [the] future, large quantities of hydrogen can be produced, distributed, and used in ways that are compatible with net zero and cost efficiency,” the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Producing, distributing and using decarbonized hydrogen for heating or power requires multiple inefficient energy-consuming steps, writes Alan Rossiter, executive director, external relations and educational program development for the University of Houston's energy research department. 

Several industrial technology companies, such as HoneywellABB and Siemens, have announced partnerships with chemical companies in the past year to help automate and bring down the cost of hydrogen production.