North West moves forward with ‘UK’s first’ net-zero cluster

The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster has been awarded government funding to help the region become the UK’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040.

The £120,000 roadmap project which is jointly funded by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), is being used to set out a clear roadmap for how the North West will decarbonise industry, protect jobs and help the UK meet its legally binding net-zero targets.

Led by the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT), the North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster brings together political and industry partners that are rising to the net-zero challenge and could deliver 33,000 jobs, over £4bn investment and save 10 million tonnes of carbon per year.

The Cluster area includes Cheshire, parts of North East Wales, Warrington, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, generating approximately 6 million tonnes of CO2 industrial emissions per year and is home to 4 million people. Clean energy projects in Lancashire and Cumbria will also be considered in the roadmap.

The roadmap grant has been awarded to Peel Environmental, bidding on behalf of partners Progressive Energy, the University of Chester, Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, Mersey Dee Energy, North West Business Leadership Team, and the Liverpool City Region Growth Company.

Funding has also been awarded to the North West’s leading hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) project, HyNet.

A key part of the North West’s decarbonisation approach is the work taking place to develop a hydrogen economy, which is being spearheaded by the North West Hydrogen Alliance (NWHA). This includes the HyNet project which intends to be piping low carbon hydrogen to industry in the region by the mid 2020’s.

Richard Carter, managing director at BASF and Chair of the NWBLT said: ‘The UK is locked into a net-zero emissions target by 2050 and with industry accounting for a quarter of all emissions we urgently need a plan to decarbonise our industrial clusters.

‘In the North West, our existing strengths in oil refining, chemical production and automotive manufacturing mean we’re ideally placed to develop solutions that can have a swift and significant impact.

‘Businesses in the region are facing some of their most challenging times in decades. As we look to recovery, the clean growth agenda is going to be even more important, helping to secure the future of our industries, attract investment and deliver new jobs.’

Professor Joe Howe, chair of the NWHA and executive director at the University of Chester’s Thornton Energy Research Institute added: ‘We’re already well on the way to developing a pioneering hydrogen economy in the North West.

‘HyNet is by far the UK’s most advanced hydrogen and carbon capture storage project which could see hydrogen piped into homes and businesses as early as 2025. It’s not just a concept anymore and this funding will help further develop the engineering required to deliver this groundbreaking project and could see the North West get millions more in government funding.’

Photo Credit – The North West Energy & Hydrogen Cluster

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Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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