UK green push is a step towards decarbonising chems sector - CIA

Author: Tom Brown

2020/11/19

LONDON (ICIS)--The package of green investment plans announced by the UK government this week is a step towards decarbonising the country’s industrial sector, trade body the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week unveiled plans for a “Green Industrial Revolution" with £12bn of state funding invested in growing offshore wind energy capacity, green building insulation and developing domestic low-carbon hydrogen capacity.

The government is also planning to invest £200m in two carbon capture clusters in the next few years, followed by two more by the end of the decade.

Organisations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) have advocated for carbon capture technology as a means of decarbonising existing heavy industry assets, and the CIA has called for the chemicals sector to have a seat at the table in the development of that sector in the UK.

The chemicals sector will play a critical role in delivering a successfully decarbonised economy, whether it be providing raw materials for the hydrogen economy or delivering carbon capture and use technologies, a report from the CIA said.

“Given the high capital and operational costs, the challenge is that UK policies are set up to secure and incentivise investment and deployment of any project aimed to make significant contribution in the UK against other competing nations,” it added.

The UK government aims to remove 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030.

“To reach net zero urgent action is needed and the additional funding for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage is a major step forward in the country’s journey towards decarbonising industry and society at large,” the CIA said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

Nearly half of the £500m earmarked for galvanising hydrogen production will go toward new hydrogen production facilities.

The country is also planning to end the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars by 2030, a decade earlier than originally planned, although critics have noted that this strengthened measure remains unlikely to be sufficient to meet Paris Agreement targets.

“The investment in electric vehicles will play a vital part in creating demand for low carbon goods and services and our sector is certainly well placed to deliver the chemical components and goods that underpin these,” the CIA added.

The planned UK investment in green hydrogen and other measures is dwarfed by EU plans, which amount to €750bn or nearly €28bn per member state.

Front page picture: A coal-fired power station in Leicestershire, central England; archive image 
Source: Global Warming Images/Shutterstock

Click here to read ICIS analysis of the UK's green investment plans