A NEW £7 million plant planned for Ellesmere Port could see waste plastic converted to eco-friendly hydrogen fuel.

Peel Environmental, part of Peel L&P, working in partnership with Waste2Tricity, has submitted plans for a waste plastic to hydrogen facility at its 54-hectare Protos site near Ellesmere Port.

The plant would use ‘UK first’ advanced thermal treatment technology developed by PowerHouse Energy Group (AIM:PHE) at Thornton Science Park, next door to Protos.

It would take up to 35 tonnes of unrecyclable plastics a day and create a local source of hydrogen which could then be used to power road vehicles.

This local source of hydrogen could be used as a clean and low-cost fuel for buses, HGVs and cars, helping to reduce air pollution. The facility would also generate electricity which could be provided to commercial users via a microgrid at Protos, helping to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Peel Environmental is looking at developing a closed loop solution at Protos where plastics are recycled on-site with the leftover material used to create hydrogen.

The development would see a further 14 full-time permanent jobs created at the Protos site, with over 100 jobs created in the North West during fabrication and construction.

Myles Kitcher from Peel Environmental said: “This is a great step forward towards delivering the first of many waste plastic to hydrogen facilities across the UK.

"There is huge potential for hydrogen to replace fossil fuels in our transport system. We already have hydrogen buses in Liverpool and trains being converted to hydrogen in Widnes.

"Using waste plastic to generate a local source of hydrogen could not only help to reduce our reliance on landfill but improve local air quality with a clean and low-cost fuel for buses, HGVs and cars.”

John Hall from Waste2Tricity said: “We are excited to have submitted plans for this first plant – the first in a series of developments that have the capability to make the North West a leader in moving towards clean energy and to help in achieving the Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

"With this plant we are recognising the importance of the low carbon distributed Hydrogen Economy and, importantly, embracing the circular economy.”

David Ryan, CEO of PowerHouse Energy Group (AIM:PHE), said: “The submission of the planning application is an important step forward in delivering the first commercial application of the DMG technology, creating hydrogen from waste plastics.

"The team have worked hard to develop a robust application and we’re hopeful of securing consent and subsequent financial close in the coming months.”

The Protos strategic energy hub sits within the Energy Innovation District (EID), which is looking to develop a local, smart energy microgrid which a recent report demonstrated could lead to energy cost savings of up to 25 per cent and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 34 per cent.

Ged Barlow, chairman of the EID, said: “We’re looking at how electricity generated at places like Protos could be provided directly to energy users in the Energy Innovation District.

"The creation of a microgrid could transform how we consume energy in the region, reducing costs and saving carbon emissions. Projects such as this are a key part of the North West, and the UK's, road to net zero and show how we’re leading the way.”