Study by Vivid Economics estimates scaling up carbon capture, hydrogen, and BECCS could deliver £3bn economic boost to the region
Developing cutting-edge green technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen, and negative emissions systems to combat industrial CO2 emissions in the Yorkshire and Humber regions could create thousands of new jobs as early as 2024, a fresh economic analysis has today suggested.
By deploying hydrogen production at scale for use in a variety of low carbon applications, alongside CCS to decarbonise gas power, biomass and other carbon-intensive industries, as many as 49,000 new green jobs could be up for grabs in the region, according to Vivid Economics.
The very first jobs could be available as soon as 2024, peaking at 49,000 in 2027, the consultancy explained, including 25,000 jobs in construction, and a further 24,000 across the supply chain and wider economy. The jobs would come in addition to an estimated 3,300 new longer term roles in operation and maintenance, it said.
Moreover, the study estimates scaling up such technologies holds the potential to deliver a £3bn boost to the regional economy by 2027.
The report was commissioned by energy firm Drax, which is pushing for government support for a zero carbon cluster in the region that would bring together a host of leading-edge green technologies alongside its own biomass power plant to decarbonise local industry.
The Zero Carbo Humber Partnership, which includes Drax alongside 12 other partners, is one of several projects across the UK which have submitted bids for government funding.
The new report comes on the same day as the government unveiled its new 10 point green action plan, including increased funding for carbon capture and storage projects and confirmation it now intends to support four Zero Carbon Clusters across the UK over the next decade.
Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group, said the Zero Carbon Humber project - as well as other proposed carbon capture hubs across the country - could provide a huge boost for the economy.
"The technologies are ready to go, so tens of thousands of jobs could be created as early as 2024," he said. "This would deliver a real shot in the arm to communities struggling as a result of the Covid crisis."
Gardiner argued the positive impact of these green technologies also presented a major opportunity for the UK to demonstrate climate leadership ahead of the crucial COP26 summit it is hosting in Glasgow next year. "This could kickstart a whole new industry in the UK, enabling us to show the world what can be achieved for the environment and the economy when governments, businesses and communities work together," he said
Yorkshire and the Humber is among the UK's most carbon intensive regions in the UK, due to a raft of heavy industries operating in the area, including Drax's North Yorkshire power plant, which includes both coal and biomass units. The company is aiming to close its coal units next year, pivoting instead to biomass, gas and energy storage technologies, alongside carbon capture systems.
It is currently testing bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology at its Yorkshire power plant in a bid to produce negative emissions, which would mean removing more carbon from the atmosphere than generated from the biomass-burning process.
By scaling up BECCS at the biomass power plant, while rolling out other carbon capture systems to decarbonise industry elsewhere in the region, alongside infrastructure to produce hydrogen for energy storage, heating or transport applications, Yorkshire and the Humber could become a major UK green energy hub, the firm argues.
With the right government policies in place, it estimates BECCS could be fully operational at the North Yorkshire power plant by 2027, permanently removing 16 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year if deployed across its four biomass units.
British Chamber of Commerce director-general Adam Marshall also gave his backing to plans to decarbonise heavy industry in Yorkshire and the Humber, noting the "significant" negative impact of the coronavirus crisis on business communities in the region.
"To help them restart, rebuild and renew, the government will need to set a clear framework and invest in greener, more sustainable technologies to not only meet our carbon goals, but help boost local growth and create the jobs of the future," he said.
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