On 18th November, Boris Johnson unveiled the UK’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution. With the COP26 climate summit set to take place in Glasgow next year, the UK is working harder to reduce it’s environmental impact and cut all negative environmental impact by 2050, whilst also creating and supporting up to 250,000 new jobs. £12 billion of government funding is to be channelled into supporting the scheme, which will focus on harnessing former industrial communities in the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, Scotland and Wales to lead the way in creating a green future.
The plan aims to replace conventional energy sources with those forms of clean energy which are already well developed in the UK, including offshore wind, hydrogen and nuclear energy, as well as reducing the emissions from cars and encouraging people to walk or cycle wherever possible. The full plan as seen on the UK government’s website, is as follows:
- Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
- Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
- Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source, across large scale nuclear and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
- Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
- Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
- Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
- Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
- Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
- Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
- Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.
Durham Energy Institute (DEI) is the leader of sustainable energy research at Durham University, currently developing energy solutions to combat the climate crisis. The Institute has responded in favour of the plan, showing their support and the ways they aim to implement positive environmental changes both within the university and in other communities across the North East. DEI are already leading multiple decarbonising heating initiatives and have stated their support for the Zero Carbon Taskforce. Additionally, the Institute praised the governmental focus on levelling-up, with Dr. Andrew Wright, Durham University Professor in Practice and former Director at Ofgem stating: “It is essential the 10 point plan puts society and justice considerations at the forefront.”
According to DEI’s statement in response to the Government’s plan, they are ‘already leading innovation and opportunity in offshore wind, hydrogen for transport, industry and the domestic markets, deployment of CCS, large-scale decarbonisation of heating, delivery of new energy materials and meeting society’s demand for affordable, secure and sustainable energy provision.’ Executive Director of DEI Jon Gluyas added his support, stating that the North East’s ‘long association with energy and key role in the first Industrial revolution [means that] this Region is exceptionally well placed to benefit from the Green Industrial Revolution’.
Already partnered with off-shore wind company Ørsted, as well as Aura in Humberside and Energi Coast in the North East, and with a research team ‘leading national research networks for Hydrogen Fuelled Transportation – Network-H2 and Decarbonising Heating and Cooling’, DEI are well placed to implement new measures. They have also established the Durham Heat Hub in conjunction with Durham County Council which will fast-track the installation of low-carbon heating in homes and buildings across County Durham, and two mine energy projects which are currently underway are expected to produce enough low-carbon energy to power 2400 homes in the region within the year.
The DEI has recognised the need for complete systemic change to occur if net-zero is to be reached but emphasises the importance of ensuring that green energy is available to all members of society. However, the fact that the energy potential of smaller, community-led projects is yet to be harnessed to meet targets demonstrates that it continues to focus on top-down solutions to the climate crisis.
Further information on how to achieve decarbonisation and tackle our environmental footprint can be found at: https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/dei/briefs/COP26JustTransitionPolicyPaper-Final.pdf
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