Low Carbon Economy

National context

The Government is legally committed to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050 through the Climate Change Act (2008). The Carbon Plan (2011) sets out how the UK will achieve decarbonisation within the framework of our energy policy to make the transition to a low carbon economy while maintaining energy security. By moving to a more efficient, low carbon and sustainable economy, the UK will become less reliant on imported fossil fuels and less exposed to higher and more volatile energy prices in the future: “For industry the global low carbon market is projected to reach £4 trillion by 2015 as economies around the world invest in low carbon technology.” (Carbon Plan 2011).”

In the Tees Valley

The Tees Valley, with its large scale energy intensive industry, needs to significantly reduce its carbon emissions. However Tees Valley is in a unique position to capitalise on the sheer scale of activity and existing integration to not only reduce its carbon, but also to open up new growth opportunities. For example the market for low carbon chemicals has shown strong and steady growth and the global market will be worth $12.2 billion by 2021. Large companies are activelt looking for low carbon plastics and transport fuels, and Coca Cola for example, has launched its plastic coke bottle with plastic made from plants.

Tees Valley can access these new markets by:

  • Installing one of the world’s first carbon capture and storage networks
  • Investing in heat networks which means the energy that is currently produced by our industry can be put to use by heating homes and businesses
  • Increasing the amount of chemicals that are produced from household waste and biomass

Tees Valley is already ahead of the game as the location for the National Centre for Process Innovation which is leading the way in producing bio-based chemicals, and the Thermal Technology Centre which demonstrates processes that can turn waste into useful chemicals. In addition the Tees Valley local authorities also have plans to build district heating networks, and Tees Valley Unlimited is working with a range of companies to progress industrial carbon capture and storage.

Not only will the Tees Valley be home to one of the world’s leading integrated manufacturing sites, it will also have a world class offshore wind industry.  The Tees Valley is already nationally recognised as a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering, and already has a UK leading offshore wind supply chain, particularly in the sub-sea sector and cable manufacture. Tees Valley can build on this to attract offshore wind turbine manufacture enticed by available development land and excellent engineering skills.

Offshore wind will not be the only renewable energy generated in the Tees Valley. Waste management plants are also finding the area very attractive. These are not dirty inefficient plants but new, innovative companies such as Air Products which generate energy ina highly efficient way. Rather than seeing carbon reduction as a problem, Tees Valley views it as an opportunity for significant economic growth.

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