UK funds projects vying to develop net zero industrial clusters

Article by Adam Duckett

THE UK Government has given funding to groups that are competing to develop the world’s first net zero industrial cluster by 2040.

Partnerships from industrial heartlands including Teesside, Humberside and South Wales have successfully applied for funding to develop plans to decarbonise their local industries. The competition supports the Government’s wider efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and is split into two strands.

The first strand funds six partnerships to submit plans for a chance to win a further £8m (US$9.9m) of funding that would be used to produce roadmaps for how clusters could be decarbonised. The second also supports six partnerships but this time for them to develop plans for a chance to win £131m for projects to deploy technology that would significantly reduce emissions from an industrial cluster by 2030.

Those chosen to bid to deploy technology include:

  • Scotland’s Net Zero Infrastructure project that would gather CO2 from industrial emitters around the Grangemouth refining and petrochemicals complex and link it to the Acorn CCS project via pipelines to St Fergus in Aberdeenshire.
  • The Net Zero Teesside project that proposes using carbon capture utilisation and storage to capture 6m t/y of CO2 from local industry. Partners include BP, Shell and Total.
  • The Humber Industrial Decarbonisation Deployment Project that would link emitters using a CO2 transport and storage system. Last year, industry partners including Drax, Equinor and National Grid launched a campaign urging local industry to join forces to help decarbonise the region.
  • The Green Hydrogen for Humberside project that would use electrolysis to produce hydrogen at scale for use by industry in Immingham.
  • The HyNet Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage project that would process natural gas into clean-burning hydrogen for use in homes and industry in northwest England and store the resulting CO2 Partners include Essar, Progressive Energy and Unilever.
  • The South Wales Industrial Cluster project that will look at developing a hydrogen economy and CCS infrastructure for emitters from sectors including oil refining, paper, nickel, chemicals, LNG import, steel and cement. Partners include Tata Steel, Tarmac, Valero Energy and the University of South Wales.

The plans for both strands of the competition will be completed by the end of July. The support comes from the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which was set up in 2016 to fund a wide range of initiatives aimed at raising the sustainability, innovation and productivity of industry. The fund has £170m for industrial decarbonisation and expects industry to invest £261m.

Bryony Livesey, Challenge Director, Industrial Decarbonisation, said: “These projects are the first stride towards the Government’s plans to develop cost-effective decarbonisation in industrial hubs that tackle the emissions challenge that UK industry faces. We look forward to the development of these plans and their contribution to meeting the 2050 net-zero target.”

According to government figures, the Humber region is the UK’s largest emitter of industrial emissions at 12.4m t/y of CO2. This is followed by South Wales at 8.2m t and Grangemouth at 4.3m t.

Rod Phillips, Energy Sector Director at Costain, which is leading the South Wales deployment project said: “Bringing together global industrial partners, specialist consultants and academia will produce exciting innovations that have the potential to decarbonise these industries not just nationally but internationally. This bodes well for the expert potential of UK know-how and the clean growth agenda.”

A number of the projects have already received financial support from the Government to develop their plans, including the Acorn CCS project and HyNet, which were among five winners of £28m of funding given in February by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to demonstrate hydrogen supply.   

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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