Eleven leading energy and industrial companies have signed a formal agreement to support a joint plan to develop a decarbonised industrial cluster in the Humber. Their consortium’s plan, to transform the Humber region into the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040, has also secured an initial award from the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The companies involved include some of the largest businesses in the Humber region: Associated British Ports; Centrica Storage Ltd; Drax Group; Equinor; National Grid Ventures; Phillips 66 Ltd; px Group; SSE Thermal; Saltend Cogeneration Company Limited; VPI-Immingham LLP; and Uniper.
The plan has the potential to contribute to the future prosperity of the UK’s largest industrial hub, which contributes £18bn towards UK Gross Value Added (GVA), and to safeguard 55,000 jobs in manufacturing across the region.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced on 16 April that the Humber project had been successful in its application for Phase One funding via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The companies’ proposals for the Humber include identifying anchor projects from across the region that can kick-start the decarbonisation of the Humber industrial region, with the potential to capture and store around 10% of UK carbon dioxide emissions per year by 2040. The plan is a coordinated approach to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by maturing options to deploy capture and storage of emissions (CCS), negative emissions (through bioenergy with CCS), fuel switching to low carbon hydrogen (produced from natural gas using CCS) and looking into future options of hydrogen through electrolysis.
Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, Lord Haskins, said: “We are pleased to welcome this agreement and the commitment companies across the Humber are making to working towards a net-zero carbon economy. This collaborative effort is key to the region – currently the UK’s highest emitting industrial cluster – reducing its carbon output and creating more new economic opportunities through clean growth.”
Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Al Cook, Executive Vice President and UK Country Manager at Equinor, the company leading the bid, 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.”