First funding phase approved for Humber net-zero industrial cluster
Plans to develop the world's first zero-carbon industrial cluster in the Humber region have been boosted after leading energy companies joined an existing consortium of project partners in the same week that Government funding was secured for the project.
Last year, Drax, Equinor and National Grid published a roadmap fleshing out their plans to create the world's first zero-carbon industrial hub in the Humber region by 2040. The roadmap sets out proposals to build a demonstration hydrogen production facility in the region by 2025 and install carbon capture equipment on one of the four biomass units at Drax’s power station in Selby two years later.
The project now consists of a consortium of 11 businesses that have signed a formal agreement to support the zero-carbon cluster.
The project partners claim that the initiative will contribute £18bn towards UK Gross Value Added (GVA), while safeguarding 55,000 jobs in manufacturing across the region.
The companies involved include some of the largest businesses in the Humber region: Associated British Ports; Centrica Storage; Drax Group; Equinor; National Grid Ventures; Phillips 66; px Group; SSE Thermal; Saltend Cogeneration Company; VPI-Immingham LLP; and Uniper.
Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Al Cook, executive vice president and UK Country Manager at Equinor said: “We are delighted to be working with such a broad group of skilled and experienced partners on a plan that will bring huge benefits for the economy of the Humber and the environment. We believe CCS and hydrogen must play a significant role in decarbonising energy systems in the UK and globally, so we are pleased that the UK Government and UKRI have recognised the ambition and potential of these proposals.
"At such a difficult time, we hope this can represent some good news for UK industry, jobs, the environment and the economy. We and our partners are now focused on developing our plans further and working closely with key regional stakeholders such as the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and CATCH UK."
Under the 2050 net-zero ambition, the UK Government has committed to fully decarbonising at least one industrial cluster by 2040. This has spurred a race between clusters in the North West, Teesside, Humberside, Grangemouth, South Wales and Southampton to become the first to do so.
As part of the Industrial Clusters Mission, the Government opened two innovation funds in October aimed at helping businesses located in key industrial clusters to plan and deploy technology to help reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Up to £140m could be accessed by successful applicants.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced late last week that the Humber project’s application for phase one funding via an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund has been approved. Industrial clusters must develop roadmaps to allow them to bid for Phase Two funding.
Elsewhere, BP, Eni, Equinor, Shell and Total have all signed up to spearhead the development of the Net-Zero Teesside project, which focuses heavily on the use of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology (CCUS).
The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster, led by the University of Chester and Manchester Metropolitan University, will create a skills roadmap to develop the “complementary” skill sets of oil and gas works to harness new low-carbon technology such as hydrogen and carbon capture.
The Liverpool and Manchester mayors and Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are working with the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) to develop a decarbonised cluster that could deliver 33,000 jobs and save 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year.