Industrial decarbonisation gets new research centre and ‘champion’ with £20M to spend

An Industrial Decarbonisation Champion has been appointed to develop plans for a new £20m Research and Innovation Centre at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University to drive the UK’s delivery of Net Zero emissions. The inituiative and is backed by £20 million funding until 2024

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, currently Heriot-Watt’s associate principal (global sustainability) and director of the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions, has been selected by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to lead the  project.  Maroto-Valer said: “Moving to a low-carbon future is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. I’m excited to be taking on this responsibility and I’m confident we can do this. We have to be successful.”

The UK’s six largest industrial clusters by emissions are in Humberside, followed by South Wales, Grangemouth, Teesside, Merseyside and Southampton. Prof Maroto-Valer will now work to transform these areas into world leading low-carbon manufacturing hubs which are expected to attract major inward investment.

She said: “My role is to place the UK at the forefront of the global shift to clean growth. I firmly believe we will be able to safeguard existing jobs and local economies whilst creating new opportunities for prosperity. We will jointly reduce costs, risks, timescales and emissions whilst considering economic and policy implications and institutional reforms. We aim to create the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and at least one low-carbon cluster by 2030.”

Prof Maroto-Valer will lead a series of consultation events with industry, academia, policymakers and technical experts, starting in Edinburgh next month. She will present proposals to UKRI for approval in August and the delivery phase is due to get under way in September.  The initiative is part of the  £170 million Industrial Decarbonisation challenge, delivered through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) by UKRI.

UK science minister, Chris Skidmore MP, said: “The new centre delivers on our ambitions by bringing together leading experts to generate new ideas to accelerate the reduction of emissions across industrial sectors like manufacturing and automotive.”