The sharp growth in carbon-conscious energy and industrial projects in north-east England has led to an East Coast Cluster in all but name - but today, it becomes a market reality following the announcement of a formal collaboration between Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), Net Zero Teesside and Zero Carbon Humber.
Uniting the two regions of Humber and Teesside, which account for nearly 50% of CO2 emissions from all UK industrial clusters, provides a better chance of the UK reaching decarbonisation and net zero targets and delivering on CCUS, low-carbon and hydrogen projects.
East Coast Cluster has the potential to support more than 25,000 jobs a year between 2023 and 2050 and capture, transport and store up to 27 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by 2030 through a diverse mix of low-carbon projects.
NEP, formed by bp, Eni, Equinor, National Grid, Shell and Total in 2020, is developing the common offshore infrastructure that will transport CO2 from industrial emitters in these regions, most of which are Net Zero Teesside and Zero Carbon Humber projects, to secure offshore storage in the Endurance aquifer in the Southern North Sea. Feasibility work on these projects is being co-funded by Innovate UK.
In the Queen’s Speech in May, the Government emphasised the importance of levelling-up the UK’s regions. Taking the East Coast Cluster forward is an opportunity, to protect many thousands of existing jobs across Teesside and the Humber, creating thousands of new STEM-based jobs and underpinning new low carbon industries in the north of England.
Andy Lane, Managing Director, NEP, said the East Coast Cluster provides the single biggest opportunity to decarbonise UK industry. “Hundreds of thousands of jobs have relied on the industries which have grown in these regions and the East Coast Cluster, by decarbonising hard-to-abate industries, aims to keep it that way, while developing a platform for UK industry to compete on a global scale," he said.
Grete Tveit, Senior Vice President for Low Carbon Solutions at Equinor, said Carbon capture and storage and hydrogen are both crucial technologies for reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement. “To deliver them at scale and create real change we need collaboration like never before," she said. "We can deliver deep decarbonisation of these major industrial regions and help the UK’s journey to net zero, safeguard jobs and develop world-leading industries.”
Andy Benjamin, Director of CCUS, National Grid Ventures, said the East Coast Cluster offers the scale and diversity to protect and create tens of thousands of jobs across the Humber and Teesside for decades to come, while building a solid foundation to re-establish the region as a globally-competitive climate-friendly hub for industry and innovation.
Dev Sanyal, Executive Vice President of Gas and Low Carbon Energy, bp, said the NEP is a partnership of extensive expertise and experience in the delivery and operation of onshore and offshore energy infrastructure. “With world-class partners across Teesside and the Humber we have an opportunity to decarbonise this key industrial heartland and enable the UK’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution," he said.
Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor, said the success of this project is not only crucial for achieving net zero, but also a way of ensuring good-quality, well-paid jobs are supported across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool for generations to come. “The Net Zero Teesside project, which is joining other clean energy initiatives at Teesworks, will position our region as a leader in innovation and the sector. I’m pleased that we can work with our neighbours in the Humber to deliver an even more positive impact for the whole UK.”
Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, said the collaboration will future proof both industrial regions, tackle half of the UK’s cluster emissions, and create new high-skill, low-carbon jobs. “Progressing the East Coast Cluster would show the UK is backing its climate ambitions with actions," she said.
The Climate Change Committee says the UK has been too slow linking promises with delivery. In its latest report to Parliament, only five of 34 sectors assessed showed notable progress in the past two years, and no sector is yet scoring highly in lowering its level of risk.
A report from McKinsey, Decarbonization of industrial sectors: The next frontier, finds that ammonia, cement, ethylene, and steel companies can reduce their CO2 emissions to almost zero with energy-efficiency improvements, the electric production of heat, the use of hydrogen and biomass as feedstock or fuel, and carbon capture. But the decarbonisation of these sectors will come at a high price - anything between $11 trillion and $21 trillion through to 2050.