Tees Valley Industrial Cluster

Teesside Industrial Cluster

Overall emissions

  • 3.5 – 4.5 mega-tonnes of CO2 equivalents per annum (existing industrial emissions)
  • Projected increase to 10 MTCO2e pa due to new decarbonised industries (this CO2 will be captured and stored in the Northern Endurance Partnership storage facility)

Key sectors

  • Chemical & Process
  • Steel
  • Biofuels
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Oil & Gas – import and processing
  • Mining
  • Renewable power – wind, nuclear, energy from waste

Geographic spread

The Tees Valley industrial cluster is based around the five local authorities of Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, Stockton, Darlington & Hartlepool – closely mapping to the Tees Valley Combined Authority region.

It is a closely-knit industrial cluster with over 60 industrials within a 5-mile radius of the centre and it benefits from the strong industrial history of the region, with the infrastructure and services to support the existing chemical cluster and former steelworks.

Economic Scale

The Tees Valley is home to the largest chemical complex in the UK, and the second largest in Europe in terms of manufacturing capacity. More than 1,400 companies in Tees Valley are directly involved in chemicals and process industry and the sector exports £12billion of product, contributing £2.5billion a year to the local economy.

Academic Cluster Lead: Professor Tony Roskilly

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.

Professor Tony Roskilly

Professor Tony Roskilly is Chair of Energy Systems at Durham University and a Director of Durham Energy Institute, leading on Industry and Internationalisation. He is the UK lead for the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) Joint Programmes for Energy Efficiency in Industrial Processes (EEIP) and Energy Systems Integration (ESI). Tony has over 30 years of experience in the design, control, and operational optimisation of energy systems. He leads a net zero research group at Durham University with on-going research in solar, geothermal and industrial power, cooling and heating systems; transitioning to hydrogen, alternative hydrogen carriers and liquid fuel use; power and thermal energy storage systems; energy system modelling and industrial planning tools; CCUS; and syngas and hydrogen production. He was appointed by Tees Valley Combined Authority as the Academic Lead for the Tees Valley Industrial Cluster, and is a member of the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) Decarbonization Innovation Special Interest Group and the Northern Powerhouse (NP11) Hydrogen Forum.

What is the high-level vision for the net-zero cluster?

The Tees Valley will be a global leader in clean energy, low carbon and hydrogen. The area will achieve a net zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040, providing good jobs with long-term prospects that local people can access.

The industrial cluster already has the three key components to successfully decarbonise, either already operating or planned projects:

  • Carbon Capture & Storage – provided through Net Zero Teesside, the East Coast Cluster and the Northern Endurance Partnership CO2 storage facility
  • Renewable power – existing offshore wind and 2.6 GW of new offshore wind under construction; existing and planned energy from waste projects; the UK’s first CCS enabled gas-fired power station; and bio-energy with the potential for CCS and negative emissions
  • Hydrogen – Tees Valley already produces 50% of the UK’s commercially available hydrogen, with ambitions to become a “Super Place” for hydrogen. Two major blue hydrogen projects and several green hydrogen projects are in the pipeline.

What is unique about your cluster?

  • The region’s industrial heritage has created the infrastructure which today enables a closely knit industrial cluster
  • The compactness of the cluster and shared services makes capturing CO2 and delivering it for storage readily achievable
  • The region imports 26% of the UK’s natural gas – the feedstock for our blue hydrogen economy and fuel for its CCS enabled power stations
  • The region already produces 50% of the UK’s commercially available hydrogen and have hydrogen pipelines and storage infrastructure around the cluster. Tees Valley will have the capacity to create hydrogen for its own needs as well as the wider UK.
  • The deep-water port and easy access to the North Sea enable the import of biomass for power; import of CO2 from other clusters which do not have their own CCS; and export of hydrogen
  • The Teesside Freeport is the UK’s biggest and first operational Freeport
  • The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority provide the direction and focus on driving forward deep decarbonisation in the industrial cluster as part of the strategy for growth as part of a wider Net Zero policy

What are the key research and innovation challenges in your cluster?

 Research and innovation will enable us to:

  • Develop a “systems model” for the Tees Valley to understand the opportunities for optimisation provided by the infrastructure and services in the region
  • Support the optimisation of the cluster’s scalable carbon accounting methodology, which allows the Tees Valley to understand and give proper credit to each industry’s emissions
  • Study policy and business models being developed by HMG and determine the potential barriers to deep decarbonisation in the cluster and how to overcome these
  • Carry out econometric studies and forecasting to understand the further opportunities for growth in jobs and GVA, and how to maximise these opportunities
  • Optimise the CO2 transport and storge system in the Tees Valley by understanding the current design and the opportunities for future connections and enhancements
  • Determine the opportunities to import CO2 from other UK regions that do not have their own CCS infrastructure, and understand if there is a viable international market
  • Support the cluster’s ambitions to become a “Super Place” for hydrogen by determining demands for hydrogen in other regions of the UK and investigating hydrogen transport options (including optimum carrier forms).
  • Understand the requirements for the electricity network in the region, including whether new users and generators of electricity in the cluster can be “matched” within the local distribution so that congestion and infrastructure planning in the National Grid does not limit projects in the Tees Valley
  • Demonstrate the value of Tees Valley industries, such as bio-fuels and vegan food, which through avoided emissions are already helping the rest of the UK to decarbonise

What work is IDRIC already doing with your cluster?

In Tees Valley Cluster, IDRIC are funding the development of tools for modelling integrated energy systems, evaluating the performance of low carbon infrastructure, and assessing the impact of investment decisions. Given the cluster’s ideal access to the Southern North Sea, we are also funding projects to accelerate geological CO2 and hydrogen storage solutions.

This is just a snapshot of the projects we’re funding to support the region; our full portfolio of projects with Tees Valley is below:

Assessing the wave of green technologies requires modelling and simulation of energy system configurations and capabilities to optimise and control novel system/process topologies and their holistic impact on the energy network infrastructure and carbon emissions.

Characterising and de-risking large saline aquifer storage sites will be key to enabling industry to scale-up and meet CCUS ambitions.

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).

Decarbonising industrial clusters will play a vital role in the decarbonisation agenda. This will require switching away from fossil fuel combustion to low carbon alternatives such as electrification and hydrogen and deploying technologies such as carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS), and supporting industry to maximize their energy and resource efficiency. The Smart Decision Modelling (SDM) tool will provide stakeholders with a live model of the Teesside Cluster that will enable organisations to define what-if scenarios to as-sess the impact in investment decisions.

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.

Gas Compression (GC) and Industrial Thermal Processing (ITP) are two major and often co-located CO2 emission hot spots within industrial clusters (ICs), contributing >5MT CO2/year to UK emissions. Both GC and ITP processes in ICs are highly energy-intensive and inefficient.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

  • energy intensity and associated CO2 emissions
  • wider feedstocks and emissions

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Useful Links

Deployment project and roadmap:

Other useful links: