As COP26 draws to a close, a nationally leading project to help Black Country businesses make the transition to a net zero industrial future was launched today by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership.
The Black Country Industrial Decarbonisation Programme will be delivered via Repowering the Black Country which is a programme of initiatives supporting Black Country businesses to take advantage of global clean growth opportunities.
The project, which was launched at manufacturing facility Servosteel, in Dudley, will initially develop four pilot zero carbon industrial hubs in the Black Country.
Within the next 10 years, the programme aims to reduce industrial carbon emissions by around 1.3M tCO2 while keeping Black Country energy costs competitive and attracting high quality manufacturing jobs to the region.
The Mayor said: "This is an important programme for the West Midlands and the UK as a whole as we look to tackle the climate emergency.
"I’ve just returned from COP26 where I’ve been talking about the opportunity for green industries to transform industrial heartlands like the West Midlands – and this programme is a case in point.
“I’m delighted to see the Black Country at the forefront of our efforts to respond to the global climate crisis, and repowering the Black Country shows that we can create jobs and opportunities through decarbonisation.”
Matthew Rhodes, Project Director Repowering the Black Country added: "This project is critical to maintaining and growing a competitive manufacturing base in the Black Country for the 21st Century.
"We need to adapt our infrastructure to the clean future set out by governments worldwide at COP26 in Glasgow this week, and to ensure our industry is ready to seize the opportunities for clean growth created by the transition to a zero-carbon world.”
Mark Anderson, Director at Servosteel, Dudley said: “Servosteel was delighted to be invited to join this programme because the transition to a zero-carbon economy creates significant challenges and opportunities for all businesses.
"By working with Repowering the Black Country team, we are getting a head start in accessing the markets of the future and keeping our energy costs low. We all need to work together to ensure we can survive and prosper through this climate challenge.”
Repowering the Black Country is one of six industrial cluster decarbonisation projects funded by BEIS and UKRI.
The Black Country Industrial Cluster consists of more than 3000 energy-intense manufacturing businesses. The project is supporting the national industrial decarbonisation strategy by developing approaches which work in the Black Country and can then be applied more widely.
The project sets out to provide cost-efficient energy infrastructure across the Black Country; helping companies benefit from new supply chain opportunities in the circular economy; and supporting resource efficiency initiatives in manufacturing operations.
The UK government has committed to the country having net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Decarbonisation of industry is key to achieving this goal, and is a top priority for the current government, who have committed over £20bn to industrial decarbonisation investments over the next 10 years.
This may include the phasing out of gas as a fuel, development of a hydrogen infrastructure, and fundamental changes in the way electricity is charged. The government is also considering carbon labelling of manufactured products and extending emissions trading schemes to smaller businesses.
Led by the Black Country LEP, the Repowering the Black Country partnership includes local businesses Kew Technology, Pro Enviro and CR Plus, supported by specialists from the University of Birmingham and WMG, University of Warwick, as well as companies specialising in urban agriculture (District Eating) and energy investment (M3MAS).
Find out more about Repowering the Black Country at: https://www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/our-strategy/place/repowering-the-black-country/