Decarbonising UK’s heavy industries ‘requires massive uptick in clean energy generation’

Pictured: Industrial cluster at Port Talbot

That is the conclusion of a new report from the Aldersgate Group today (27 April).

The report, published in collaboration with University College London (UCL), outlines the policy measures required to deliver a decarbonised power system and support the electrification of heavy industrial sectors, in line with net-zero by 2050.

It outlines how sectors like steel, cement, glass and chemicals will need to increasingly run on clean and affordable electricity in order to rapidly decarbonise and remain competitive.

A total of 15 policy interventions are recommended

measures to upgrade the power grid, facilitate continued investment in renewables, enable direct access to low-cost renewable power for heavy industry, accelerate low-carbon innovation and support the competitiveness of UK industry.

To reach net-zero by 2050, UK industrial emissions must fall by 70% by 2035 and 90% by 2040.

In many heavy industrial sectors, electrifying manufacturing processes that rely on fossil fuels is key.

Clean electricity also has an important role to play to support other processes such as hydrogen production and the operation of carbon capture and storage.

In all cases, access to high volumes of low-carbon and affordable electricity will be vital to the successful decarbonisation of heavy industries and their ability to be competitive in the global transition to net zero emissions.

Aldersgate Group senior policy officer Laith Whitwham said: “Decarbonising industrial processes might be a significant challenge, but it’s one that offers UK sectors like steel, cement and chemicals the opportunity to compete in new, quickly growing markets for greener goods.

“That means new jobs, growth, and exports, instead of a continuation of the struggle to compete against high carbon imports. But to make this move, low-carbon electricity is key.

“This report outlines the policies needed to decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply, and accelerate the rollout of the new industrial infrastructure through which it will flow.”

National Grid future markets manager for heat decarbonisation Niki Kesharaju added: “Decarbonising energy-intensive industrial processes will be crucial to ensure the UK meets its net-zero targets, and the recommendations in this report set out ambitious action to help drive progress.”

The report comes less than a month after the UK Government’s ‘Green Day’ of policy announcements, which some have criticised for failing to appropriately cover heavy industry.

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