University of Exeter to play a key role in new £20 million industrial decarbonisation centre

Exeter is one of 140 partners involved in the new centre

Researchers from the University of Exeter are involved with two projects as part of the new £20 million Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC).

The centre, led by Heriot Watt University, is looking to accelerate the five-year industrial decarbonisation challenge funded by UKRI. The £170 million aims to support the development of low-carbon technologies that will increase the competitiveness of industry and contribute to the UK’s drive for clean growth.

The University of Exeter is leading one project and are co-investigators in a second.

Professor of Human Geography Patrick Devine-Wright said: “It’s fantastic to be involved with such a large-scale initiative, especially leading one of the projects.

“Reducing the carbon footprint of heavy and energy intensive industries in the UK is an important step to a net zero future and the new centre will only help us reach that goal. Industries such as iron and steel, cement, refining and chemicals currently have a massive carbon footprint and our projects will help to address this, looking at some large industrial areas in the UK.”

The first project, ‘Creating a Net Zero Sense of Place’, is being led by Professor Patrick Devine-Wright, along with postdoctoral researcher Dr Fionnguala Sherry-Brennan.

It will look at how stakeholders in six industrial clusters are creating a ‘net zero’ environment with distinct local identity, fostering innovation and recruiting skilled workers to move into each place. The project will also look at the lived experiences of residents in the face of significant local changes in three of the six industrial locations.

‘Just Transition’, the second project, is led by University of Sussex, with Exeter’s Professor Patrick Devine-Wright and postdoctoral researcher Dr Stacia Ryder as co-investigators.

This project aims to enhance both justice outcomes and procedures in industrial transitions to ensure the costs and benefits of industrial decarbonisation are distributed fairly.

IDRIC will connect and empower the UK industrial decarbonisation community with over 140 partners, including the University of Exeter.

Dr Bryony Livesey, Challenge Director for the industrial decarbonisation challenge, said: “The introduction of the IDRIC concept shows the commitment to not only fund large scale 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 in order to remain at the forefront of a global low-carbon future.”

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Leader of the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre, said: “The role of IDRIC will be to consider a wide-range of opportunities and challenges for the industrial sector to decarbonise, starting with the industrial clusters and our joint ambition to deliver the world’s first net-zero industrial hubs by 2040.

“The research and evidence we’ll work through with our academic and industry partners across the UK will not just focus on industry itself, however, but also how it will shape society and economies at both a local and national level. It’s a key part of making sure the UK heads down the most effective path with its decarbonisation efforts and I’m looking forward to starting the journey.”

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