The Kraft Heinz Company has signed an agreement with Carlton Power, the UK energy infrastructure development company, to study the development of a renewable green hydrogen plant at its Kitt Green manufacturing plant in Wigan, Greater Manchester. 

Kitt Green is one of the largest food processing plants in Europe and one of the largest Kraft Heinz facilities in the world, producing a quarter of a million tons of food annually and employing approximately 850 people.

The proposed 20MW Kitt Green hydrogen plant, the first to be taken forward by Kraft Heinz globally, will meet more than 50% of the plant’s annual natural gas demand and reduce the plant’s carbon emissions by 16000T/yr.  The hydrogen will be produced by an electrolyser using electricity generated from sources of renewable energy, primarily wind and solar power. 

The Kitt Green project is the fifth green hydrogen project that Carlton Power is taking forward within the UK. 

Eric Adams, Hydrogen Projects Director at Carlton Power, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Kraft Heinz to bring forward a green hydrogen facility at Kitt Green to help the company accelerate its efforts to decarbonise their operations.  It is critical that projects like this are brought forward to support British companies, especially in manufacturing, in reducing their carbon emissions and reaching Net Zero.”

Jojo Lins De Noronha, President, Northern Europe, The Kraft Heinz Company, said: “Our agreement with Carlton Power is an important step forward in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and achieve our global goal of net zero emissions by 2050, with a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030. We’re excited to partner together to develop our first, renewable hydrogen energy project globally and hope to see more projects like these in the future.”

Subject to planning approval and financing, the £40m Carlton/Kraft Heinz renewable hydrogen scheme is earmarked to enter operation in 2026.  Its construction will be contingent on securing financial support from the UK Government’s second Hydrogen Allocation Round (HAR2) of the Hydrogen Production Business Model (HPBM), which the Government has launched to support UK industry’s switch to hydrogen and encourage the growth of the hydrogen economy across the country. 

Over the next 12-18 months, Kraft Heinz and Carlton Power will seek to obtain planning permission for the scheme.  In parallel, the two companies will work together to obtain grant funding and operational financial support from the UK Department of Energy Supply and Net Zero (DESNZ) with a target to deliver hydrogen to Kitt Green in 2026.  A submission to DESNZ will be made this year (via HAR2), following consultations with local and national stakeholders.

The project has been welcomed by local and regional politicians:

Lisa Nandy, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development and MP for Wigan: “It’s welcome news that Kraft Heinz has chosen Kitt Green as a key site for investment in clean power. Transitioning to net zero is essential to protect local jobs and defend the environment. It is a sign of confidence in Wigan that Heinz has identified Kitt Green as the first site for investment. We look forward to working with them and the local community to develop this pioneering project.

Councillor Tom Ross, Greater Manchester lead for the Green City-Region: “Greater Manchester is making great strides towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2038, but we need everyone pulling in the same direction. Businesses and organisations across the city-region have a vital role to play in that effort by moving away from fossil fuels in their operations. “That’s why it’s great to see Kraft Heinz and Carlton Power collaborating to drive forward our path to net zero, making Wigan home to Kraft Heinz’s first ever green hydrogen-powered plant. This represents a long-term investment in green jobs right here in our city-region, and a major boost for establishing a hydrogen economy in Greater Manchester.”

Councillor David Molyneux MBE, Leader of Wigan Council: “As a council we have declared a Climate Emergency and are working towards our aim of net zero carbon by 2038. We all need to play our part in taking positive action for our planet and this project is a really exciting innovation taking place here in our borough. It’s great to see a well-known business like Kraft-Heinz looking to lead by example and take this proactive step to produce less carbon and embrace green energy. I look forward to seeing how this project progresses.”

The green hydrogen scheme is Carlton Power’s third to be developed in the North West of England and its second in the Greater Manchester region, the others being at Trafford in Greater Manchester which received planning consent in 2021 and at Barrow-in-Furness (South Cumbria) which was consented in June 2023.  In December 2023, these two projects, (as well as Carlton’s Langage scheme near Plymouth, Devon) secured financial support through the Government’s Hydrogen Allocation Round 1 (HAR1). 

In 2021, Kraft Heinz announced its goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its operational footprint (Scope 1 and Scope 2) and entire global supply chain (Scope 3) by 2050.