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Zero Carbon Humber calls on government to back major funding bid

Image: Equinor.

Image: Equinor.

Zero Carbon Humber has sent an open letter to energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng, calling on the government to back a major funding bid.

This follows on from the 12 organisations behind the project submitting a bid to the second phase of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for £75 million of funding. The letter, signed by all partners including the likes of Equinor, Drax, National Grid, and SSE, argues that if the bid was successful it will help unlock a potentially multi-billion pound project, and reduce the UK’s annual emissions by 15%.

The carbon capture, hydrogen and infrastructure project would help the UK meet its international legally binding climate target, as well as future-proofing the existing industry, the partnership argued to Kwarteng.

It is accompanied by 45 formal letters from non-partner organisations expressing their support for the project, including international trade bodies, business and investment groups, local authorities and LEPs, equality and diversity organisations, trade associations, academic institutions, training providers and supply chain networks.

Louise Smith, director of Aura Innovation Centre wrote in the company’s supporting letter: “CCUS and hydrogen have a central role to play in creating a resilient, inclusive and innovation driven regional economy that delivers clean growth for the Humber.

“With a third of the Humber’s economy based on high carbon jobs, an inclusive transition to low carbon is critical to the place and its people.

"The technologies developed on the back of a successful bid in the Humber will protect the region against flooding and lead the world in the fight against climate change.”

Zero Carbon Humber was first announced in May 2019, with Drax, National Grid Ventures and Equinor signing a memorandum of understanding. It then expanded into a much larger consortium in April 2020.

The need for CCUS and hydrogen to keep climate change to within 2-degrees is becoming increasingly pressing according to a number of groups. In September, Wood Mackenzie’s annual Energy Transition Outlook report said the technologies will be key to the ‘Herculean’ task of tackling climate change.

Peter O’Sullivan, CEO of international engineering firm Penspen said within the company’s supporting letter: “Zero Carbon Humber is an important first step [in establishing a viable hydrogen economy] and will decarbonise the UK’s largest industrial region.

“It is well positioned to do so because it builds on existing skills and infrastructure – it has existing sources of hydrogen production from the refineries in the region, it has a well-established skill-base and it is close to reservoirs in the Southern North Sea which will play an important role in both scaling up hydrogen production and providing CO2 storage.”

A decision is expected on the funding allocation early in 2021.

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