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The University of Southampton

Southampton at the forefront of the UK’s ambitions to cut industrial greenhouse gas emissions

Published: 25 May 2021
Industrial pollution
Southampton will lead the development of a robust decarbonisation pathway for the Solent Cluster.

The University of Southampton will play a key role in building a new world-leading, high-impact research and innovation centre that will act as the national focal point and international gateway for UK industrial decarbonisation.

The Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) has received £20m from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).  IDRIC will be led by Heriot-Watt University and will work closely with the UK’s major industrial clusters to address the challenges of industrial decarbonisation. IDRIC is a diverse community of more than 140 partners, including the University of Southampton,  brought together to create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial cluster by 2040 and four low-carbon clusters by 2030.

IDRIC is part of the Industrial Decarbonisation challenge, delivered through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) by UKRI, and part of the commitments set out in the Prime Minister’s 10-Point Plan for a green revolution. IDRIC will accelerate the transformation of industrial clusters into world leading low-carbon manufacturing hubs which will attract major inward investment, support job creation and underpin the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions.

This challenge aims to accelerate the cost-effective decarbonisation of industry by developing and deploying low-carbon technologies. It aims to enable the deployment of infrastructure at scale by the mid-2020s. It also aims to boost industry sector jobs, reduce carbon emissions and contribute significantly to the UK Government’s carbon target to reach net zero by 2050.

Dr Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, academic lead at the University of Southampton for the establishment of a Solent Industrial Decarbonisation Cluster, says: “The formation of IDRIC is critical in supporting clusters at an earlier stage of their development, such as the Solent Cluster. This is an extensive project bringing together regional decarbonisation efforts from stakeholders and policy makers across the Solent region. Over the next three years the project will support the development of a robust decarbonisation pathway integrating solutions to regional engineering, technical and environmental challenges whilst incorporating local perspectives on behavioural, economic and policy. Coupling the insight and expertise from more establish Clusters with the transformative, challenge-led research from IDRIC will enable swifter development of the UK’s industrial clusters.” 

Southampton’s engagement with IDRIC was enabled by the University’s “Clean Carbon” University Strategic Research Group (USRG), chaired by Dr Armstrong, which pulls together world-leading expertise and resources from across the institution including a large community of researchers focussed on decarbonisation.

A specific IDRIC project, led by Professor Damon Teagle of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, will look at how we can transport CO2 by ships from a variety of industries from clusters with large CO2-emissions but no available geostorage, such as the Solent or South Wales, to other clusters with excess storage capacities.  In addition to understanding the shipping and port-side infrastructure required, this project will also involve the development of regulatory frameworks between onshore and offshore regulators as well as understanding the wider public acceptance of such approaches.

Professor Teagle says, “Decarbonisation needs to happen everywhere, not just where it is convenient to store CO2.  Carbon capture and permanent storage in geological reservoirs needs to be deployed urgently if we are to avoid catastrophic levels of global heating.  This project is an excellent example of the University work with partners large and small industry (e.g., Shell and Progressive Energy) as well as regulators like the Maritime Coastguard Agency to develop safe and enabling procedures to facilitate these essential industrial processes that are mandatory steps on the road to Zero-carbon.”

Another project, led by Professor Gail Taylor of the School of Biological Sciences at Southampton, will develop modelling tools to identify optimum locations for power plants operating on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) based on regional environmental and social factors.

Professor Taylor adds, “Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), is a key Negative Emission Technology (NET) enabling greenhouse gas emissions reduction and a move to a net zero economy and will be an important part of the technologies deployed in decarbonisation hubs.  We have shown that positive ecosystem service benefits of BECCS, including flood protection and carbon sequestration, depend on location. However, these wider benefits decline with size with 1GW BECCS being significantly less beneficial to the environment than 500 MW, suggesting that future BECCS requires site-specific ecosystem service valuations to assess trade-offs and co-benefits of this NET. Within IDRIC we will assess the co-benefits and trade-offs to ensure that BECCS technology is deployed in the right place and at the right size to ensure optimum impact.”

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