25 October 2017


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26 Oct 2017

The UK government has announced the launch of its Clean Growth Strategy and Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Roadmap Action Plan, with evidence supplied by SCI’s Developing a Low Carbon Future for the Chemical Industry report, produced for the Chemistry Growth Partnership (CGP).

Prepared by SCI as part of its work to implement the recommendations of the DECC/BIS Industrial Decarbonisation Roadmap study, the CGP report identified process routes to help the chemical industry further reduce its carbon emissions while maintaining a competitive industry. Three case studies demonstrated opportunities to achieve this via:

  • Industrial symbiosis, illustrated by the project between INEOS and CEMEX in Hull
  • Bio-based routes through ethanol and methanol to olefins and derivatives
  • A local hydrogen economy for production of fertilisers and associated chemicals

The report calls for incentivising of increased productivity in existing manufacturing processes, including the integration of utilities and processing; valorisation of existing resources such as CO2, biomass, and municipal waste; and for innovative low-carbon technologies to drive integrated supply chains of strategically important chemicals.

In response, the government’s Clean Growth Strategy promises to ‘work with industry to produce a UK Bioeconomy Strategy that will bring together biological industries, academia and innovators, linking up farmers and land managers with high tech industries [to] develop less carbon intensive products such as bio-based chemicals, plastics and other materials.’

The Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Roadmap Action Plan estimates that by 2050 the chemical industry could reduce its emissions by 79–88% – a net reduction of 14.6–16.1 MtCO2e – through a combination of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS), biomass fuel, energy efficiency gains, industrial clustering, and fuel switching.

Accordingly, the Clean Growth Strategy includes investment of up to £20m in a fuel switching innovation programme aimed at overcoming the barriers holding back deployment of alternative fuels, and up to £100m for CCUS.

£99m will be invested in innovative technology and research for agri-tech, land use, greenhouse gas removal technologies, waste and resource efficiency. Over the next five years, Defra will work with industry to encourage the use of low-emissions fertiliser, and review the levels of take up using data from the British Fertiliser Practice Survey.

The strategy also earmarks £10m for innovations that improve the energy efficiency of buildings, £14m for the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, and £20m each for developing low-carbon fuels for industry and early-stage clean technologies. Up to £557m of funding for offshore windfarms and less established green energy technologies will be made available via Contract for Difference auctions in Spring 2019.

Speaking at the launch of the Clean Growth Strategy, held at a low-carbon combined heating, cooling and power facility in London, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, Claire Perry, said that the global shift towards clean solutions ‘offers UK businesses and innovators huge potential to shape the future of clean growth.’

‘Part of the reason why the UK is considered a leader in tackling climate change, is that we don’t just see it as a problem to be solved; we see it is an opportunity, too,’ she said. ‘By focusing on clean growth, we are presented with a win-win situation – we can cut the cost of energy, drive economic growth, create high value jobs right across the UK, and improve our quality of life.’

SCI welcomes the long-term commitment to industrial decarbonisation laid out in the government’s Clean Growth Strategy. The chemical and process industry accounts for 37% of the UK’s manufacturing turnover but just 2.7% of total UK emissions, producing a vast range of products that are used in every UK manufacturing industry, and underpin every consumer industry.

The importance of sustainable innovation in the chemical sector has never been more significant – as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, its economy will increasingly depend on exports founded in world-class innovation. Sustainable growth in the chemical sector is essential to achieving this.

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