UK to develop world-first carbon 'net-zero' hub of heavy industry by 2040

Dec 13 2018


At COP24 climate talks in Poland the UK government has set a world-leading ambition for the first 'net-zero carbon' cluster by 2040 backed by up to £170 million funding.

The UK could have the world’s first ‘net-zero carbon’ cluster of heavy industry by 2040, thanks to up to £170 million of new funding announced at COP24 climate talks in Poland.

Up to £170 million funding for industry will be provided through a competitive process for clusters to research, develop and demonstrate at scale the innovative solutions to lead the way to a decarbonised industrial future, subject to industry entering into partnership with government and providing significant co-investment to this challenge.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced the ambition alongside plans for at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030 using carbon capture and storage; the UK is aiming to become a world-leader in clean technology and services that will be needed as the world tackles climate change, she said.

The UK’s low carbon economy has the potential to deliver export sales of low carbon goods and services around the world, by 2030 annual exports could be worth up to £170 billion and could support up to 2 million ‘green collar’ jobs by 2030 – a key part of the Government's modern Industrial Strategy.

Currently, industry accounts for around 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, with more than two-thirds of these industrial emissions coming from energy intensive industries which are often located next to each other in clusters.

This new funding of up to £170 million, which is expected to be backed by industry, will help heavy industries like steel, ceramics, cement, chemicals, paper and glass to share expertise and innovative low-carbon solutions to clean up the air we breathe as we move to a greener, cleaner economy.

Energy and Clean Growth?Minister?Claire Perry said, "Demonstrating climate action and growing the economy go hand in hand is key to building momentum behind global action on carbon. The UK is a leader in both, cutting our emissions by more than 40% while growing our economy by 2 thirds, but to sustain this track record we need to tackle emissions from energy intensive sectors and bring clean growth to our great industrial centres."

"That’s why today I’m launching a mission to create the world’s first ‘net-zero’ carbon cluster by 2040 in the UK with up to £170 million of new government funding. This will help to develop the technologies of the future to transform industry around the world, ensuring the UK seizes the global economic opportunities of moving to greener, cleaner industry – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy."

By investing in world-leading innovative technology, such as carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), climate change can be tackled alongside creating highly skilled jobs and generating export opportunities, the Government said. At the end of last month, Minister Claire Perry co-hosted a global summit in Edinburgh at which she unveiled plans to enable the first UK carbon capture project from the mid-2020s.

Today’s announcement comes as the UK-Canada led Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) celebrates one year of success, now with over 70 members. As part of this, the UK has committed £20 million for a World Bank programme (ESMAP) to help developing countries move away from coal power and embrace renewable energy. To make a real impact on the reduction of coal power, UK government has established the Utilities Taskforce to become influential advocates for the PPCA.

At international climate talks in Poland this year at COP24, the UK and Canada today will announce new members of the PPCA, committing to eradicating coal power while redirecting resources to renewables. Around 3.5 billion tons of coal are currently burnt globally for power every year, contributing to 45% of the world’s emissions.

The UK government has put moving to a cleaner, greener economy at the heart of its Industrial Strategy. Through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, the transformation in the clean energy sector has contributed to the whole of the UK cutting its emissions by more than 40% since 1990 while growing the economy by more than two-thirds – the best performance on a per person basis of any G7 nation.

But UK has always been clear that the move to a cleaner economy must be both public and private sector led, which is why the modern Industrial Strategy establishes clean growth as one of the greatest economic opportunities of our time – with heavy industry now set to also benefit from this new clean revolution and seize the vast global economic opportunity that comes with it.

Power stations are also set to benefit too from the move to a cleaner economy. To make a real impact on the reduction of coal power, UK government is working with investors to establish the Utilities Taskforce – a group comprising companies which supply electricity to UK homes – to become powerful and influential advocates for the alliance and encourage investors to commit funds into the thriving clean energy market instead of investing in coal projects.

Dr Luke Warren, Chief Executive of the CCSA, commented:

“We strongly welcome today’s announcement of the Industrial Clusters mission. The CCSA is delighted to have worked alongside government as part of an industry consortium on the development of this mission over the past year."

"These clusters will utilise technologies which can provide deep decarbonisation in industrial sectors, and CCS is a key part of this effort. The Government has allocated £170 million to this work, and together with matched funding from industry, this will go a long way to laying the groundwork for the creation of low-carbon industrial zones in key UK regions such as Teesside, Merseyside and Scotland."

"Today’s announcement represents yet another positive step forward in realising a commercial CCS industry in the UK, which can deliver significant global opportunities for the UK’s low carbon economy. The Government recently published its CCUS Deployment Pathway, setting out its plans to deliver the first UK CCUS project by the mid 2020s. Together with the funding announced today, this could help to realise a key recommendation from the CCUS Cost Challenge Taskforce – the establishment of at least two CCUS clusters in the 2020s."

"We are entering into an important and exciting time for CCS in the UK; now is the time for strong industry and Government collaboration, to realise the Government’s ambition of deploying CCUS at scale and ensuring the UK steps up its climate ambition to make net-zero emissions a reality.”

UK Industrial Strategy


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Issue 68 - Mar - Apr 2019

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