Heriot-Watt awarded £20m for decarbonisation research hub
Heriot-Watt University has received £20 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop a high-impact research and innovation centre to act as the national focal point and international gateway for UK industrial decarbonisation.
Virtually based at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus, the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) will work closely with the UK’s major industrial clusters to address the challenges of industrial decarbonisation alongside a diverse range of over 140 partners as part of a drive to create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial cluster by 2040 and four low-carbon clusters by 2030.
It will integrate best use of challenge-led research, transformative innovation, knowledge sharing and nurturing talent.
IDRIC will be headed by award-winning academic and the UKRI’s industrial decarbonisation champion Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer who will drive industrial decarbonisation as part of the UK’s journey to net-zero.
Professor Maroto-Valer said: “I am delighted to lead IDRIC, the UK research and innovation hub for industrial decarbonisation that will set the foundations for the new industrial clusters of tomorrow. The 2020s will be key for the UK to set the pathway to meet its carbon targets and IDRIC will play a key role to accelerate the decarbonisation of industrial clusters. Working with the research and innovation community, we will demonstrate our international competitiveness to realise the opportunities offered by economies of scale in decarbonising industrial clusters and driving new business models.”
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.
To kick start the process, six projects across the UK received £8 million in government funding to develop cluster plans to cut carbon emissions from major industrial areas. £171m were allocated in March to nine green technology projects to undertake engineering and design studies for the rollout of decarbonisation infrastructure, such as carbon capture, usage and storage and hydrogen.
In March 2021, the UK Government also announced a new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy which sets out the government’s vision for building a competitive, greener future for the manufacturing and construction sector. As part of the government’s path to net zero by 2050, the measures will create and support 80,000 UK jobs over the next 30 years whilst cutting emissions by two-thirds in just 15 years.
Prof Maroto-Valer said: “We are very excited to work with the cluster plans and deployment projects to stimulate cross learning and strengthen and accelerate the impact of activities across the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. We will co-develop a whole systems approach that integrates engineering, environmental and technical solutions alongside perspectives on economic, behavioural and policy. Together we will deliver long-lasting growth and societal benefits for a green economic recovery.”
Dr Bryony Livesey, challenge director for the Industrial Decarbonisation challenge, said: “The introduction of the IDRIC concept shows the commitment to not only fund largescale decarbonisation efforts, but to make sure we continually learn from and adapt to their early results and challenges. By enabling the Centre to build evidence on a range of areas from direct costs and emissions to skilled jobs and wider net zero policy, we believe we are creating a more adaptive and responsible path for the UK’s big industry to take to remain at the forefront of a global low-carbon future.”