Hanson Showcase

Hanson UK – part of the global Heidelberg Materials group – is a leading supplier of heavy building materials to the construction industry. It is split into five business lines – aggregates (crushed rock, sand and gravel), concrete, asphalt and contracting, cement and recycling. Together, they operate around 280 UK manufacturing sites and employ more than 3,500 people.

Hanson Cliffe Quarry (1)

These industries are energy intensive and hydrogen is seen as a solution for reducing carbon emissions while maintaining productivity — but scale, cost and integration with geographically spread production plants are all key challenges.

Working with Cadent, as part of the East Midlands Hydrogen and Capital Hydrogen projects, Hanson has been looking at the feasibility of using hydrogen as a fuel source for some of its production sites. Previous and current work in the business has now shown that not only is the process feasible, but it could also reduce CO2 in line with Hanson’s net zero plans. 

“For us, the drive for decarbonisation is about much more than just being a sustainable business,” says Elliot Wellbelove, carbon innovation manager at Hanson UK. “Our materials are used to construct and underpin our country’s infrastructure. They are an intrinsic element of the clean energy sector too – from building nuclear power plants to constructing onshore and offshore wind farms. So, we are already playing a part in enabling the UK’s net zero ambitions.

“Complicating the challenge is that there are still societal misconceptions about the energy system and what is required for businesses like ours to successfully decarbonise. Electrification, at this moment in time, isn’t a viable replacement for fossil fuels — not just for production plants, but also for our large-scale off-highway minerals extraction equipment. At the same time, we know the UK’s constraints around electricity demand, so we have to find other solutions.

“Hydrogen is critical for industrial decarbonisation but the challenge is generating it affordably and at the scale we need. That’s where we see pipeline connection to future hydrogen infrastructure as a good solution.”