British Glass outlines net-zero roadmap for 2050

The industry's existing roadmap was targeting an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050

British Glass, the representative body for the UK glass sector, has published its net-zero strategy, outlining how the sector could decarbonise in alignment with climate science, provided policy and financial support are upgraded to enable the transition.

British Glass’ chief executive Dave Dalton said: “This is an exciting, but challenging road ahead for UK glass manufacturers on the journey to net-zero but we are committed and well placed to achieve this, provided the industry is supported with relevant policy to overcome the barriers to success.”

“We are confident that the measures presented in the net-zero strategy will outline the best route to both reducing and eventually eliminating carbon emissions from our industry, but it is essential that we receive the support required from government to fulfill our ambitions.”

The UK’s glass manufacturing sector comprises 10 large companies with 17 industrial sites in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The industry contributes around £2bn to the UK economy annually and directly employs around 6,000 people, with an estimated 150,000 more indirect jobs.

While the industry has improved the energy efficiency of glass furnaces by 50% over the last 40 years, the steps to net-zero will require unprecedented innovation. The industry’s existing decarbonisation roadmap was set up in 2015 through a partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and was targeting an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.

The industry members believe that financial incentives and policies that lower the cost of alternative fuels while improving the availability of cullet (recycled glass) will be key to meeting the net-zero ambition.

Large-scale industrial demonstrations of oxyfuel hybrid furnaces capable of running on up to 80% electricity, hydrogen that is made available inside glassmaking clusters and policy intervention to enable carbon capture and storage (CCS) to transport CO2 from dispersed sites are all cited as key enablers in the roadmap.

Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a £350m funding pot for technologies like CCS and hydrogen alongside a £400m sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) pledge, to be spent as part of the UK’s Covid-19 recovery effort.

Of the pot, £139m will be used to abate emissions from the heavy industry sector. Investments will be made to scale-up the UK’s hydrogen production capacity and to improve related infrastructure; and to bring CCS technologies online at scale. The Conservative Party Manifesto notably includes a commitment to spend £800m on CCS during the course of this Parliament and, under Theresa May, BEIS pledged to bring the UK’s first major CCS project online in the mid-2020s.

According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), hydrogen and CCS are both “non-optional” components of the UK’s transition to net-zero.

Matt Mace

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