Government funding targets world’s first net zero industrial zone


Six projects across the UK will receive a share of £8mn in government funding as part of efforts to create the world’s first net zero emissions industrial zone by 2040.

On 2 January, BEIS announced that the six projects had already produced initial plans on reducing emissions, with the funding to now support them in the development of detailed strategies for cutting emissions across major areas of industrial activity. This will involve looking at where related industries could benefit from using shared clean energy infrastructure, such as carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and low carbon hydrogen production and distribution.

It marks the latest phase of the government’s £170mn Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, which is supporting the Industrial Clusters Mission, aiming to deliver four low carbon regional zones by 2030 ahead of a net zero emissions one by 2040.

The projects to receive support include plans led by CR Plus consultancy for a South Wales Industrial Cluster, centred around a five stepped approach to net zero carbon; the Black Country Consortium’s efforts to steer a potential 2.3MtCO2 emissions a year by 2030 to zero through a coordinated programme of transformational projects focused around a zero carbon hub; and Peel Environmental’s Net Zero North West Cluster Plan, which hopes to realise over 33,000 new jobs and over £4bn investment.

Elsewhere, the funding will support development of Scotland’s Net Zero Roadmap, led by Neccus, which will look to enable large-scale industrial CO2 emissions reduction in a way that focuses on ensuring the continued, but evolving, contribution of high-value industry and employment in a future net zero economy. It was noted how Scotland is well placed to lead a new scale CO2 management industry, with offshore Scotland having some of Europe’s best characterised and largest CO2 storage sites. CCS and hydrogen, meanwhile, can create opportunities for jobs and economic activity, helping transition staff employed in sectors such as oil and gas.

Plans for a Net Zero Tees Valley cluster are another of the projects to receive backing. The Tees Valley is the UK’s most compact and integrated industrial cluster and responsible for 8.8mn tonnes of CO2, though also employs over 12,000 people, generates £12bn of exports annually and adds £2.5bn to UK gross value added. The plan is expected to combine carbon capture at scale, fuel switching to hydrogen, integration of renewables, low carbon energy sources and feedstock changes, together with improved process and energy efficiencies.

The Humber Industrial Cluster Plan is also among the selected projects, led by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership and member organisation, CATCH. It will enable the Humber industrial cluster, which emits more CO2 than any other in the UK – 30% more than the next largest – to reach net zero by 2040. It will take a phased approach, prioritising near-term, deliverable investments that lead to quick results and drive a substantial cut in the Humber’s emissions by 2030.

It will further map out how CCS and hydrogen infrastructure can be scaled up over time, identifying the full range of interventions required to achieve net zero by 2040.