Plan for first zero carbon industrial cluster in Humber unveiled

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NEW report outlining how the world’s first zero carbon industrial cluster can be developed in the UK by 2040 has been published.

The proposals published by the Zero Carbon Humber campaign, led by Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures, could help ‘protect 55,000 jobs and deliver the biggest contribution to the UK’s climate goals of any industrial region’.

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group commented:  “The race to cut carbon emissions is one we can win. This plan sets out a clear blueprint of how to get the Humber to net zero – the impact of decarbonising the most carbon intensive region in the country will make a major contribution to the UK reaching its world-leading climate goals. We need to seize this opportunity. Zero starts here.”

The Zero Carbon Humber vision includes:

  • Developing a hydrogen demonstrator and test facility in the Humber.
  • Installing carbon capture technology at Drax Power Station to create the world’s first carbon negative power station.
  • Building a carbon dioxide (CO2) transport and storage system across the region that industry can connect to;
  • Safely storing carbon deep under the seabed in the Southern North Sea.
  • Unlocking a cutting-edge hydrogen economy – providing a low carbon fuel to decarbonise industry, power, heat, transport and maritime across the North of England.
  • Creating the conditions for new industries which use the CCUS pipeline or low carbon hydrogen to develop in the region – creating new jobs and opportunities locally and across the country

Capture For Growth: A roadmap for the world’s first zero carbon industrial cluster sets out how the region could deliver the government’s world-leading ambition to establish the first ‘net zero’ carbon industrial cluster in the UK by 2040, helping the Humber to compete on the world stage by attracting new investment, industries and employment.

Irene Rummelhoff, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Midstream & Processing at Equinor added: “This report sets out how a hydrogen economy can be kick-started from the Humber region and grow across the North of England. Hydrogen has a key role to play in the UK reaching net zero by cleaning up industry, heating, transport and power, as well as delivering improved air quality.”

The proposals are supported by new analysis by Element Energy which finds that if the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster is developed in the Humber region, 53 million tonnes of CO2 a year could be captured – that’s around 15% of the UK’s current annual COemissions.

They would also help save industrial businesses in the region carbon taxes of up to £27.5bn by 2040 helping to protect jobs and competitiveness.

Jon Butterworth, COO, Global Transmission at National Grid Ventures said: “The government has set out ambitious plans to develop the world’s first zero carbon industry cluster by 2040. We believe this is a challenge that can and should be met. By working together across industry sectors, we can protect UK jobs, drive further economic growth and help the country achieve critically important climate goals that will significantly benefit current and future generations.”

In May, Drax Group, National Grid Ventures and Equinor announced they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing them to work together to explore how a large-scale carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) network and a hydrogen production facility could be constructed in the Humber in the mid-2020s.

“I welcome these proposals which set out a clear route to protect jobs, tackle climate change and help the Humber compete globally. Today, the UK is in the lead, but other countries are closing the gap by helping their industries achieve their net zero carbon goals”, Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, which is supporting the Zero Carbon Humber campaign, commented.

“The Humber is uniquely well placed to deliver clean growth, and I hope the next Government will get behind the exciting proposals coming forward from the region.”

The report shows that the Humber is ideally positioned to become the world’s first net zero industrial cluster:

  • The region is home to the UK’s biggest industrial economy, employing 55,000 people and contributing £18bn to UK GDP each year.
  • It has a rich industrial heritage and hosts around 100 chemical and refining companies alone, which together account for around 12% of total employment in the UK chemicals sector.
  • The Humber is also the UK’s largest emitter of CO2. Industries could face carbon taxes of up to £27.5bn by 2040 which would harm competitiveness.
  • A world leading trial of bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology is underway at Drax’s power plant in North Yorkshire, which could create the world’s first negative emissions power station.
  • This power station could then be used as the economic anchor to make a carbon capture pipeline across the Humber viable – enabling industrial businesses in the region to capture the carbon they emit
  • A new hydrogen production facility could kick start a hydrogen economy in the region covering industry, heating for homes and businesses, power generation and transport. Cleaner transport alone could remove 4.2 million tonnes of COfrom the region, improve air quality and save the NHS millions of pounds.
  • The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said earlier this year that deploying carbon capture and hydrogen technologies at scale is essential if the UK is to meet its legally binding target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • The Humber is also close to potential major geological storage sites for COemissions deep beneath the Southern North Sea.