The economic benefits of utilising innovative green energy technologies to decarbonise industries in the Humber would be “huge”, new research has shown.
The research from Vivid Economics and commissioned by Drax Group, , a founding member of the Zero Carbon Humber partnership, found that employing these technologies could boost skills, create tens of thousands of jobs and transform the region’s fortunes in the face of economic uncertainty caused by the COVID crisis.
Vivid Economics’ analysis shows that scaling up bioenergy with carbon capture technology (BECCS), which Drax has already successfully proven at its power station in North Yorkshire, would support almost 17,000 jobs during construction in 2028.
“The boost to the economy created by developing these new green energy technologies in the Yorkshire and Humber region would be huge – and we can do it quickly,” said Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO.
“The technologies are ready to go, so tens of thousands of jobs could be created as early as 2024. This would deliver a real shot in the arm to communities struggling as a result of the COVID crisis.
“The positive impacts of these new green energy schemes aren’t limited to the Humber region, either. 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.”
Using carbon capture technology across Drax’s four biomass units would accelerate the UK’s efforts to reach net zero by permanently removing 16 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year – a significant proportion of the negative emissions the UK needs to meet its net zero targets.
With the right policies from government, BECCS could be operational at Drax as soon as 2027, accelerating the Humber’s efforts to become the UK’s first zero carbon industrial cluster. Other industries across the region would tap into the same CO2 transportation and storage infrastructure, enabling further decarbonisation.
In October Drax was one of 12 leading businesses and organisations as part of the Zero Carbon Humber Partnership to jointly submit a public-private sector funded bid worth around £75 million to the UK Government to establish a CCS and hydrogen economy in the region.
As the UK’s most carbon intensive industrial region, the benefits of decarbonising the Humber would have the greatest impact on enabling the country to reach its legally binding net zero by 2050 target, whilst generating clean growth for the economy.
Deploying hydrogen production at scale for fuel-switching, as well as carbon capture to decarbonise gas power and other industries, alongside BECCS at Drax, could create and support as many as 49,000 jobs in the Humber region at its peak in 2027.
Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “This report shows what could be achieved across the Yorkshire and Humber region and wider Northern Powerhouse by developing BECCS at Drax and hydrogen in the Humber – cutting carbon emissions, protecting jobs in existing industries and creating many more new jobs throughout the region at a critical time.
“The Humber is already spearheading the UK’s sustainable energy revolution, and through further investment in these sectors we can hope to unlock yet more economic potential for the North. Companies like Drax play a vital role in decarbonising the economy and closing the North – South divide to build back better.”