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  • Andrew Byrne

Government funding to help industrial clusters reach net zero carbon by 2040

Photo by Markus Distelrath / Pexels

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – the non-departmental UK government body which directs research and innovation funding – has decided upon the six projects to receive £8m funding towards creating a net zero emissions industrial zone by 2040. The six industrial clusters are scattered across the country as part of the government’s levelling-up strategy.

The UKRI – funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – created the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) as their flagship challenge-led innovation programme. The ICSF has a vast budget of government funding matched by private sector investment and the announcement of the allocation of the tranche allocated to creating the decarbonisation clusters was made on January 4th.

The six regions to receive funding are South Wales, West Midlands, Tees Valley, North West, Humber and Scotland. The projects are led by a mix of consultancies, development companies, local authorities, partnerships and consortiums and, among others, include industry heavyweights such as BP, Equinor, BASF, Shell, Drax, Siemens, National Grid and IBM.

The lead participants and over-riding aim for each of the projects are:

South Wales: The South Wales Industrial Cluster, led by CR Plus consultancy, focuses on societal needs, circular economy and the clean growth in addition to targeting net zero carbon.

West Midlands (or the Black Country): Led by the Black Country Consortium – a partnership of private, public and voluntary sector organisations – is focusing on 3,000 energy-intense businesses with an aim to neutralise their emissions by 2030.

Tees Valley: The Tees Valley cluster is the UK’s most compact and integrated industrial cluster with a radius of just five miles and currently includes some of the country’s highest carbon emitters. Led by the Tees Valley Combined Authority, their plan to reach net zero includes carbon capture, switching to green hydrogen and efficient usage of technologies.

Humber: Led by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, the region - currently emitting 30% more CO2 than any other UK industrial cluster – will adopt a phased approach to protect existing industry while scaling up carbon capture and the hydrogen infrastructure.

Scotland: The cluster will be led by NECCUS, an alliance of industries and experts, Scotland’s Net Zero Roadmap (SNZR) project will use their existing offshore CO2 storage sites and continue to transition staff in the fossil fuel sectors towards low carbon energy production.

North West: The Net Zero NW cluster plan, led by Peel Environmental, incorporates North West England and North East Wales and hopes to create 33,000 new jobs whilst reaching net zero by acting on preliminary research already carried out in industry and public sector bodies.

The ISCF is one of many initiatives being undertaken by the UKRI to set the UK on course to meet the country's legally-binding target of net zero emissions by 2050.


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