UK Government launches business fund to deliver net-zero industrial clusters

Grangemouth (pictured) is one of the key industrial clusters the Government is seeking to decarbonise

Two fund challenges run by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) on behalf of the government have opened, allowing businesses to apply for a share of up to £1m to develop plans to decarbonise industrial clusters and another share of up to £1m to create roadmaps to plot a course to net-zero by 2050. Up to £140m could then be accessed by successful applicants. 

The Deployment and Roadmaps funds are being opened as part of the wider Industrial Decarbonisation challenge that commits £170m towards technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen networks. These technologies will help decarbonise industrial clusters located in Grangemouth, Merseyside, Teeside, Humberside, South Wales and Southampton.

The Government is aiming to establish the “world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030”, as part of the Industrial Clusters Mission.

Bryony Livesey, interim challenge director for Industrial Decarbonisation said: “This is a great opportunity for businesses to contribute to decarbonising a cluster of industries. These initial competitions are an important first step for businesses to tell us their ideas and plan to accelerate cost-effective decarbonisation as part of a wider cluster of firms and solutions.

“I’d urge businesses to engage with these competitions as it provides a front door to more significant funding opportunities through the challenge at the next stage and will be a key component of the UK achieving its net-zero emissions goal by 2050.”

The first phase of the deployment competition will give UK business the opportunity to apply for a share of up to £1m to develop plans for decarbonising an industrial cluster. Successful applicants will then compete for up to £131m for projects that can deliver “significant emissions reductions in a UK industrial cluster by 2030”.

For the roadmap challenge, businesses can access up to £1m to create a plan for achieving net-zero industrial clusters. If successful, funding can rise to up to £8m for the development of industrial cluster decarbonisation roadmaps for major UK industrial clusters.

Future energy plans

Tens of thousands of jobs could be created in the north of England as a result of decarbonisation, According to the Institute for Public Policy Research’s Risk or Reward report. As many as 46,000 jobs could be created in the power sector alone by 2030 – but the think tank was keen to stress there is a significant risk with around 28,000 job losses in the coal, oil and gas industries expected during the same period.

For some, the deadlines listed under the challenges aren’t ambitious enough. Labour has launched a future energy plan outlining how a net benefit of £800bn could be realised in the UK, by fast-tracking the nation’s energy sector to net-zero emissions by 2030.

Labour’s 187-page 30 by 2030 report details how 1.9% of GDP would be spent each year to transform and radically decarbonise the energy sector. The allocated GDP is the same that was set aside to help meet the UK’s Climate Change Act by 2050.

Matt Mace

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