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The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has welcomed a new zero-carbon partnership which will see Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures explore the utilisation of Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) to lower emissions in the Humber.

The ambitious partnership is working towards developing a large-scale CCUS network anchored by Drax’s carbon neutral biomass-based energy, with plans for a hydrogen production facility to be constructed in the Humber in the mid-2020s, and a carbon pipeline running past and taking in waste emissions from local industry on the north and south banks of the Humber.

The project has the potential to make the Humber the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster, building on the area’s development as the Energy Estuary.

The Humber has huge potential to exploit this technology due to the concentration of energy intensive industries, which need such CCUS projects to help them reach decarbonisation targets; and the proximity to the geological storage capacity under the North Sea.

The new scheme will also explore the potential development of a large-scale hydrogen demonstrator within the Drax site, near Selby, by as early as the mid-2020s – in line with the Climate Change Committee’s recommendation that hydrogen should be produced at scale in at least one industrial cluster by 2030.

This hydrogen development could offer further opportunities in the Humber region, for example decarbonising heat and transport. Although Drax has traditionally been a coal-fired power station, it has been converting to bioenergy which makes its output carbon neutral and enables further projects to become carbon negative.

The plans to run a pipeline through the Humber region would allow other industries to capitalise on the project – as high emitters could pump their CO2 into it, while potential users could take CO2 from it. Carbon which is captured could be sold to other industries, for example to be used in soft or alcoholic drinks.

Supporting industries to decarbonise and secure their long-term competitiveness in the Humber will be a key part of the industrial strategy the LEP is developing for the region.  The first plans will be launched at the LEP’s Annual Business Summit on 5 June.

In January this year, our Chair Lord Haskins gave evidence to a panel of MPs as part of the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee inquiry into CCUS. The committee has since published its recommendations including backing at least three CCUS clusters across the UK. The Humber LEP is also submitting evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Carbon Capture & Storage.

Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, Lord Haskins, said: “The partnership between Drax Group, Equinor and National Grid Ventures is excellent news for the Humber.  The roll out of CCS and hydrogen technology could be transformational for our region, as we continue to develop as one of the UK’s most important centres of clean energy generation and industrial production.  We look forward to continuing to support the development of this important project.”