Research and Innovation

Research and Innovation  →

As part of its role in enabling transformation, IDRIC funds research projects that foster technical and social innovation and collaboration as well support policy makers and regulators to create a positive environment for industrial transition in the UK. Through co-creation of research programmes, our collaborative approach addresses the following cross cutting challenges:

Informed by a whole-systems approach, IDRIC’s research programme addresses key cross-cutting challenges of industrial decarbonisation.

IDRIC supports the development and deployment of low carbon technologies in areas such as fuel switching, energy storage, hydrogen, CCUS and negative emissions technologies. It focuses on systems and scale up by developing innovative planning and decision-making tools for infrastructure and supply chains, as well as informing the design of business models and regulatory frameworks. IDRIC research also addresses key social, economic and policy aspects of industrial decarbonisation including skills pathways for low carbon industry and roadmaps to support a just transition. Importantly, IDRIC is committed to delivering genuine impact by fostering collaboration and sharing of best practice across industrial clusters and sectors.

Whole Systems Approach

Multidisciplinary Integrated Programmes (MIPs)  →

IDRIC launched its first wave of over 40 research and innovation projects in 2021.

IDRIC’s research is grouped into nine Multidisciplinary Integrated Programmes (MIPs), each addressing a key challenge or pathway for industrial decarbonisation.


System Planning for net zero industrial clusters

This programme addresses key planning questions for the decarbonisation of industrial clusters with the objective of: enabling a deeper understanding of integrated systems; developing a long-term strategic vision underpinned by proven technologies, emerging innovation, and optimised and supportive policy frameworks. Data and skills generated across this program will provide case studies, assessment modelling and validation. ​These will be used to develop governance learning and policy mapping for all clusters and projects, leading to data-rich system planning models to be shared nationally and internationally.


Infrastructure for net zero industrial clusters

The identification of systems infrastructure, assets and network design options that work at cluster level represents a formidable challenge. We need to address challenges relating to the cost of new or modified infrastructure. This must be underpinned by a place-based planning capability that takes into consideration the expense of social and environmental justice for communities and workers.  Linking optimisation methods and data generated through this programme, we will accelerate the ability to compare and validate optimal source, vector and storage options.


Operating net zero industrial clusters

Operating a net zero industrial cluster must consider the wider implications of achieving growth and being economically viable – and must have corresponding business models. It will require innovation in financing decarbonisation to reduce dependence on CO2 trading schemes. Similarly, there is a gap in economic geography research (net zero sense of place) to attract inward investment and recruit skilled workers to operate these industrial clusters. This programme will deliver models and frameworks that can be tested and validated within IDRIC and the clusters, creating net zero industrial exemplars for national and international learning and skills development.


Scale up opportunities at cluster and value chain level

Industrial energy systems are responsible for furnishing power, heat, and electricity for manufacturing processes. We focus on technological opportunities arising from clustering industry facilities and establishing economies of scale at cluster level, as well the challenges of making and implementing policy in a technologically complex sector. This programme will collectively identify and mitigate challenges associated with scale up and will share knowledge nationally and internationally to quicken the pace of optimised decarbonisation globally.


Energy vectors for industrial decarbonisation

This programme explores how to produce and transition to new energy vectors competitively, including the impacts of technological shifts and related changes on industrial policy. Transitioning to zero carbon fuels (ZCFs) presents a challenge because flexible selection of appropriate blends affects design and operation. How to prioritise vectors is a critical issue for decarbonisation globally and this program will create and examine multiple options to reduce fossil reliance in several areas, using consistent approaches to their assessment and optimisation. This will enable scientific advance leading to the provision of new fuels and materials with international markets, as well as the ability to provide robust policy advice.


Accelerating deployment of CCUS for industrial decarbonisation

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is vital to reducing industrial emissions at lowest cost globally. However, CCUS deployment needs to accelerate rapidly and significant barriers still exist, such as fast-tracking routes to market, dynamic storage capacity, access to UK CO2 storage capacity appraisal, as well as socio-economic aspects. Building upon our current international collaborations in CCUS, as well as UKRI related funded programmes, these internationally leading projects will enable IDRIC to support the UK’s role in the deployment of CCUS for industrial decarbonisation globally. Collaborating with the individual clusters, skills will be developed and shared throughout IDRIC and beyond.


Large scale deployment of hydrogen systems for industrial decarbonisation

Transitioning to a hydrogen-based energy system is a key pathway to achieve industrial decarbonisation. However, significant barriers exist, including production at scale, storage, infrastructure investments, as well as distribution and safety considerations. Collectively, this programme will develop technologies, skills and evidence for realising the strategic role of hydrogen to decarbonise UK industrial clusters and reach net zero targets.


Reducing costs and risks of Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) and their integration in industrial clusters

To achieve net zero it will be necessary to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to offset residual emissions through deployment of NETs. Here, we focus on the co-development of NETs with industry, which is essential for their scalable deployment and for meeting net zero targets. This programme builds upon work with the UKRI Greenhouse Gas Removal programme. All projects are part of a wider global academic and industrial programme of activity to explore, develop, assess and incentivise NETs, highlighting opportunities, as well as areas of risks and costs. Knowledge and skills gained from this programme will be shared nationally and internationally.


Integration: Policy, knowledge exchange and skills

To ensure the challenging timescales for industrial decarbonisation can be met, it will be essential to avoid silos and instead share knowledge, develop skills and to use all IDRIC resources to inform relevant policy developments. IDRIC must become the go-to centre of excellence for research and innovation, as well as regulation, policy and skills. This programme will integrate and coordinate the relevant inputs for, and outputs from IDRIC and related projects and activities.

Theme Output Analysis

Research Programme →

Find out more about our whole systems approach to accelerate industrial decarbonisation

Research Programme