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19 Jan 2023

North West industrial decarbonisation plan hailed as pivotal moment for UK’s journey to net zero

A powerful collaboration of industry leaders, including Peel NRE, has set out a roadmap to decarbonisation for the UK’s first net zero cluster.

The North West Cluster Plan published today by Net Zero North West (19th January) sets out the action needed to supercharge the region’s green industrial revolution and deliver the UK’s first zero carbon cluster by 2040.

Unveiled by Andy Carter MP at an event at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the Cluster Plan demonstrates a £30bn pipeline of live investable projects with the opportunity for £207bn to be invested in the region overall.

The North West is the first region to reveal its Cluster Plan, providing a blueprint for the rest of the UK. It follows the publication last week of Chris Skidmore MP’s net zero review ‘Mission Zero’, which showcased the huge global opportunity in decarbonisation and the need for the UK to move quickly.

Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South, said: “I had the pleasure of launching Net Zero North West’s manifesto in 2021, which showed how the region can spearhead the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050, and the publication of today’s Cluster Plan shows how we’re doing just that. The North West is harnessing its strengths in advanced manufacturing, energy intensive industry and regional collaboration to become the UK’s first net zero region by 2040 and seize the economic opportunity of our generation.

“The Mission Zero review has been crystal clear that business needs more policy and funding support if it is to fulfil its crucial role in delivering a green industrial revolution. I will be encouraging the government to give the Net Zero North West Cluster Plan the attention it deserves and prioritise backing our region’s industry to accelerate this blueprint for clean growth.”

Carl Ennis, Chairman, Net Zero North West and CEO, Siemens GB&I said: “The Mission Zero review published last week is clear – that we need action and a robust plan to reach net zero in the UK. That’s exactly what we’ve delivered in the North West. A credible, deliverable and investable routemap to decarbonisation. The Cluster Plan brought industry together behind a shared purpose and clear vision, establishing a strong framework for delivery.

“This is a pivotal moment for the North West and UK’s journey to net zero. We are in a unique position to become world leaders in clean growth and we have the vision and passion to make it happen.”

Bryony Livesey, UKRI Challenge Director, Industrial Decarbonisation said: “The Cluster Plan is one of six Cluster Plan projects funded by UKRI’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge programme as part of an £8 million portfolio. It has been good to see how the project has driven the industrial decarbonisation agenda for the North West, establishing a platform for investment into regions, green jobs creation, skills for Net Zero as well as promoting an inclusive culture for the region’s industry. This report recognises the scale and ambition of plans in the North West; while challenges remain, the work done so far shows the commitment and energy across cluster partners and what can be achieved in delivering the region’s vision for Net Zero.”

Industry in the North West produces 16.7 million tonnes of CO2 every year. The Cluster Plan sets out a series of interventions that will be required to reach net zero.

- Decarbonising the power sector – renewables alone will not be enough to reach net zero. Hydrogen and natural gas with carbon capture will also be required to meet energy demands. This will require the grid to be substantially reinforced.

- Decarbonising industrial processes - through energy efficiency, carbon capture and use of low carbon fuels like hydrogen industrial processes will be decarbonised.

- Hydrogen production – hydrogen will play a central role in the region’s decarbonisation strategy, providing low carbon power and enabling fuel switching for industry. Hydrogen with carbon capture through the HyNet project could produce 4GW of the Government’s new 10GW hydrogen target by 2030. Electrolytic hydrogen produced from regionally based renewable generation will also contribute.

- Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) – the development of regional CO2 transport and storage infrastructure underpins both the direct capture of CO2 from industry and the production of low carbon hydrogen by HyNet. It will be expanded to include Energy from Waste (EfW) and biomass facilities combusting biogenic fuels (so-called Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage or BECCS)-

- Power supply considerations - decarbonisation of industry will have significant implications for the power grid with an anticipated need for significant new generation, to reinforce the network substantially to enable new developments to come forward and for industry to electrify some processes.

Alongside leading hydrogen and carbon capture project, HyNet North West the region is also unlocking hydrogen as a clean fuel for transportation, including plans for the UK’s first plastic to hydrogen facility at Protos in Cheshire. The North West is also a national centre for renewable energy investment and innovation, with ambitions to maximise the use of its land and coastal assets and put wind, tidal and solar energy at the heart of powering the region, including the multi-billion pound Mersey Tidal Power project.

The region also has the advantage of a world class nuclear industry in Cumbria, centred around Sellafield, which could be expanded and used to produce cheaper industrial electrolytic hydrogen supported by the roll out of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

The two year Cluster Plan project was jointly funded by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), under the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge Fund (IDCF), and by industry and will form part of a national cluster plan strategy being prepared by UKRI and Government.

The Cluster Plan was developed by a consortium of partners including Net Zero North West, Peel NRE, North West Business Leadership Team, Cheshire & Warrington LEP, University of Chester, Liverpool City Region LEP with research partners including EQUANS, Uniper, Progressive Energy, Cadent and SP Energy Networks.

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