A new ERM report released this month examines the impacts that recent policy and project developments have had on the scenarios and vision explored in the Humber Industrial Cluster Plan (HICP) published in March 2023. Findings show that delays to infrastructure are expected to result in six to ten million tonnes of additional CO2 emissions by 2030, compared to the original projections. However, research suggests that the longer-term outlook is more positive, and that the Humber can still reach net zero by 2040.

The Humber is one of the UK’s largest industrial clusters, supporting 360,000 jobs and contributing £18bn to the UK economy. It is also the UK’s largest source of industrial emissions due to energy-intensive traditional sectors including iron and steel, power production, refining, and manufacturing. Decarbonizing the Humber is one of the UK’s greatest sustainability challenges and opportunities, as it strives to reach net zero by 2050 through ambitious actions such as large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS), and hydrogen production, storage, and distribution.

ERM was able to re-run its proprietary N-ZIP Humber model with updated inputs to generate revised scenarios for the region taking into consideration recent developments. The report’s recommendations include limiting further delays for anchor CCS projects and increasing industrial and government collaboration to develop the large hydrogen export opportunity in the Humber.

ERM’s studies were carried out with funding from the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) and support from the University of Lincoln, Humber-based skills and training organization CATCH, and other local stakeholders.

Silvian Baltac, Partner leading ERM’s Industrial Decarbonization practice, said: “Our Sustainable Energy Solutions team at ERM has been supporting the Humber region since 2019, providing strategic, techno-economics and market intelligence services, and fostering local collaborations across the cluster. This report examines the impacts that recent policy and project developments have had on the scenarios and vision that we have previously explored in the Humber Industrial Cluster Plan published in March 2023. When undertaking such a study, our team combines technical modelling expertise with strategic industry insights and stakeholder consultation, to make the most pragmatic recommendations.

“Although there are delays, the vision is not lost. Reaching net zero targets is feasible not only for the Humber by 2040, but to support the broader decarbonization of the UK by 2050.”

Katie Hedges, Director of Membership and Low Carbon Strategy at CATCH UK, said “Our goal was to refresh and present the cluster’s long-term contribution to meeting UK net zero targets, our impact over time with access to CO2 storage, the economic impact and how we will address barriers to deployment. This information supports all deployment projects and the Humber Energy Board, and ultimately positions the Humber for track 2 success in the cluster sequencing competition.”

Joe Howe, Zero Humber Professor of Industrial Decarbonisation, University of Lincoln, said: "The transition to low carbon industry is a huge opportunity for the Humber region and this publication, funded by IDRIC, demonstrates how the clusters commitment to the energy transition is proceeding at pace. I am delighted to see the Humber Cluster taking the lead in developing cost-effective decarbonization plans that tackle the emissions challenge UK industry faces. These pathways enable the region to further cement its reputation for being global leader in industrial decarbonization.”

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