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The Humber Cluster spans both banks of the Humber Estuary, connected by the Humber Bridge and hosting the ports of Goole, Grimsby, Hull, Immingham and Killingholme.
Map of Humber Cluster’s vision for decarbonisation. Source – Humber 2030 Vision (PDF)
£18 bn of the UK’s economy is generated in the Humber each year, driven largely by its deep expertise in industrial processes. 20% of the Humber region’s economic value comes from energy-intensive industries and 360,000 jobs are supported by industries such as refining, petrochemicals, manufacturing and power generation. Energy intensive industries account for around one in ten jobs in the Humber region.
Our Academic Cluster Leads provide strategic input and connectivity with the industrial clusters and act as a bridge between the research community and activities within the clusters.
The Humber Industrial Cluster aims to reach net zero by 2040 and create over 50,000 jobs in region. The Humber Region will become a SuperPlace, where carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), renewable energy, and hydrogen come together to be at the forefront of technical developments in the race to net zero.
Research and innovation will enable us to:
Given the Humber Cluster’s ideal access to the Southern North Sea, IDRIC are funding projects to accelerate both geological CO2 and hydrogen storage solutions. As home to Europe’s largest biomass power station, our projects are also developing processes to use BECCS in the production sustainable aviation fuels, and exploring how BECCS can have a positive impact on the natural environment.
This is just a snapshot of the projects we’re funding to support the region; our full portfolio is below:
Industrial clusters: evaluating carbon dioxide underground in Bunter closures British Geological Survey
This project will deliver a reservoir model of a key UK CO2 storage complex: the Bunter Sandstone of the Southern North Sea. This saline aquifer is the primary storage unit targeted by two ongoing CCUS feasibility studies (OGCI’s Net Zero Teesside and Equinor’s Humber Industrial Decarbonisation Deployment projects) and as such has a high likelihood of forming the storage reservoir for one of the UK’s first CCUS operations. The reservoir model will provide a testbed for optimizing different CCUS operations targeting the aquifer, leading to a reduction in cost and risk to operators. Important geological information will be delivered to a wide range of industrial and academic research projects to further the collective understanding of this important storage reservoir. The Bunter Sandstone is already the focus of several academic studies, but interest in the aquifer system is expected to grow as the industrial feasibility studies progress. The detailed geological framework developed as part of this project will enable researchers to investigate increasingly complex physical and chemical interactions and processes critical to the operation of these CCUS projects.
Smart policy and governance for industrial decarbonisation, University of Sussex, University of Manchester, Queen’s University Belfast
This project will examine both the policy mixes and governance dynamics of industrial decarbonisation in the UK. It will pursue three integrated outputs:
Toolkit to design and evaluate the performance of low carbon infrastructure, Imperial College London, Heriot-Watt University
This project will develop an open source techno-economic and environmental portfolio assessment toolkit to design low carbon infrastructure for industrial clusters. It will address two important cluster challenges:
i. How to share the cost of new or modified infrastructure (e.g. CCS, hydrogen production and distribution, increased electrification)
ii. Identify and rate opportunities for resource cascading (e.g. heat integration across industries).
Hydrogen storage and transport networks for net-zero industrial clusters, Heriot-Watt University
Meeting the challenge of industrial decarbonisation requires large scale fuel switching to clean hydrogen, either blue hydrogen from fossil sources coupled with CCUS or green hydrogen using renewables like wind and solar. Hydrogen will soon be blended with natural gas and supplied safely to over 650 homes as part of a trial in Winlaton in the north-east of England. In Buckhaven, Scotland, H100 Fife project is will bring renewable hydrogen into 300 local homes in the first phase of this project. The UK is taking the first steps to expand the use of hydrogen in national gas network.
The politics of industrial decarbonisation policy, University of Sussex
Industrial decarbonisation policy seeks to address a number of technical and economic challenges in reducing industrial emissions. However, like all policy it is also the outcome of a political process, and creates new political dynamics.
Interest groups form coalitions to deploy ideas to try to influence outcomes, constrained or enabled by the institutional context for policy making. A range of actors have diverse interests in industrial decarbonisation policy, including: foundation industries; new technology firms; fuel, technology and infrastructure providers (e.g. in areas such as CCUS, hydrogen, bioenergy); consumers, taxpayers and workers, both in general and in particular regions. In theory, government seeks to balance these interests in designing policy; in practice policy will also reflect the political importance of different interests and how organised and effective interest groups are in putting their views.
At the same time, policy outcomes distribute resources and powers across these groups, and through path-dependence help create pathways of decarbonisation. These developments can in turn create political risks.
Accelerating the deployment of cost-competitive advanced carbon capture technologies for industrial decarbonisation, Heriot-Watt University
For each industrial sector, the most efficient and cost-effective capture technology will depend on the characteristics of the CO2 source, CO2 destination/sink, the specific location, and local resources. Although some capture technologies are already operated at industrial scale (e.g. amine-based capture), these may not be optimal for all required applications and may need to be adapted. Advanced tailored sorbent-based technologies allow flexible operation together with reduced capital and operational costs as they offer higher capture capacities and significantly lower energy penalties than the current state of the art systems. In the past decade, significant breakthroughs in separation science have been made through the discovery of novel nanoporous materials (e.g., Metal-Organic-Frameworks). However, to fully utilize the potential of these materials, the integration between materials science and process engineering is required. The lack of such integration has been identified as one of the key bottlenecks that limit the prospect of novel materials for CCUS technologies to reach the market.
Advanced multitemporal modelling and optimisation of CO2 transport and storage networks, Imperial College London
Large-scale CCUS requires the availability and flexible utilisation of a CO2 transport and storage network. Important challenges, however, are the time varying injection profile and dynamic storage capacity of any site within the network which need to be determined to establish its attractiveness as potential store.
Also, from the network operator’s viewpoint, the overall cost of storing a contracted amount of CO2 needs to be considered in a dynamic, time dependent framework that respects complex engineering, economic and regulatory constraints.
CO2Stored 2.0 - Next generation of the UK’s CO2 storage database, British Geological Survey
The world-leading UK national CO2 storage database CO2Stored provides freely available detailed information on more than 570 prospective storage units around the UK. The database has been the starting point for all recent public-private and industry storage capacity appraisals. It provides the first, significant step to industry and researchers to inform their plans for UK-wide industrial decarbonisation by CCUS.
Protective space and social licence to operate industrial decarbonisation, University of Manchester
To accelerate industrial decarbonisation at scale, low carbon technologies (including carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) and Hydrogen production) require a strong social licence to operate (SLO).
SLO refers to the level of support for projects and technologies assembled to deliver industrial decarbonisation in the region. High levels of SLO are achieved when projects are seen as credible and legitimate, and depend on establishing trust between society and those responsible for delivering and regulating projects. Thus, it is important to understand specific contexts and past events which will influence the evolving social licence in each region.
Large-scale deployment of a hydrogen energy system, Energy Institute
The Energy Institute held a hydrogen energy transition workshop with stakeholders in hydrogen production, storage and distribution, which identified the following needs to facilitate the large-scale deployment of a hydrogen energy system:
The relative lifecycle analysis of hydrogen value chain options, both for:
The basis for making a demonstration of safety (a ‘safety case’) for facilities and operations in the foreseeable hydrogen value chain.
These needs were further scoped into three research projects.
Utilisation of co-produced oxygen from electrolysis to enable deep decarbonisation, Heriot-Watt University
UK clusters are major consumers of industrial oxygen gas, in particular steel producers, chemical plants and general manufacturing. Currently, the global £44billion oxygen market is growing 4-5% annually and deep decarbonisation technologies can be key suppliers. Hence, the main challenge this project is focusing on is innovative solutions for utilisation of co-produced oxygen to enable deep decarbonisation to fully benefit from the benefit of water electrolysis.
Enabling hydrogen storage near industrial clusters, University of Manchester
The utilization of hydrogen as a fuel is one way to enable the decarbonisation of industrial clusters and domestic heating. This project responds to this opportunity by assessing the potential for subsurface storage of hydrogen in rocks, thereby avoiding the requirement for surface storage facilities.
Low-carbon reorientation in steel, oil refining and chemical industries, University of Sussex, University of Manchester
The steel, oil refining, and chemical industries account for about 40% of UK industrial GHG emissions. Industrial reorientation towards low-carbon technologies is challenging because incumbent firms in these industries are locked into existing technologies, skills, and business models. Additionally, incumbent firms are reluctant to make large low-carbon capital expenditures, because this may weaken their position in cut-throat international competition.
BECCS to sustainable aviation fuels, University of Sheffield
Translational Energy Research Centre is supporting a three-stage research project which aims to understand more about how the gasification of biomass with carbon capture could be used in producing hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuels.
Production of valued chemicals and fuels from biomass gasification with CO2 capture has great potential: In the short term, it will enable the displacement of virgin-fossil energy sources and will contribute to an efficient mix of renewable energies. In addition, they will contribute to the decarbonisation of industrial sectors. The energy efficiency and capital cost of converting biomass and residual wastes to aviation fuels are major barriers to widespread adoption.
Identifying optimal sites for BECCS , University of Southampton, University of Exeter, University of California
To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change has advised the UK should:
1) Quadruple low-carbon electricity supply
2) Deploy bioenergy with carbon capture & storage
• Where is BECCS infrastructure going to be located?
• How will the environment be affected by the land use change associated with the deployment of BECCS?
Industrial clusters and whole energy system modelling , Energy Systems Catapult
The Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) was set up to accelerate innovation and deployment of low carbon technologies and associated infrastructure while simultaneously stimulating economic growth within a wide variety of industrial sectors. The industrial clusters are significant hubs of economic strength both within their local communities and nationally. It is important that the significant reduction in carbon emissions required to achieve net zero maintains or increases this economic activity both during and after the transition. The technologies behind decarbonisation routes for industry are largely understood and at high technology readiness levels. The critical information that is needed to build investor confidence and transition to these low carbon technologies, is to understand which combination of these technologies and underpinning infrastructure offers the best economic benefits in the long term, when coupled to the transitioning energy system.
Development of competence, skills and training for the transition to hydrogen, Energy Institute
The Energy Institute held a hydrogen energy transition workshop with stakeholders in hydrogen production, storage and distribution, which identified that there are insufficient suitably qualified/certified technicians, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, control and instrumentation engineers, project managers and other front line staff to cater for a transition from a petroleum based energy sector to a hydrogen based energy sector. In addition, there lacks the required competence profiles for the comparable roles, and suitable training to facilitate re-skilling against those profiles.
Enabling skills for the industrial decarbonisation supply chain, University of Chester
The purpose of this project is to enable development of the core and supply chain workforce needed to deliver Industrial Decarbonisation across the UK’s Industrial Clusters. This goal will be achieved through establishing a mechanism whereby the skills requirement can be determined and by promoting pathways to realising these skills. This process will not only help deliver a prepared workforce for the industrial clusters but will drive supply chain development and form a coherent community between Government, academia, training providers and industry. It will also afford a skills mechanism which may be exploited to the benefit of other industrial grand challenge areas.
Deployment projects and roadmap:
Other useful links: