University to play key role at new research centre at forefront of UK industrial decarbonisation ambitions

University of Sussex

Head and shoulders photo of Prof Benjamin Sovacool wearing a dark suit and light shirt

The University of Sussex is excited to play a major role in a newly announced world-leading, high-impact research and innovation centre established to become the national focal point and international gateway for UK industrial decarbonisation.

Professor Benjamin Sovacool will be co-director and the University will lead on three key research topics at the new Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) which today [Monday 24 May 2021] has received £20m from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Up to 11 University of Sussex energy policy experts will be involved in the centre and their research will focus on smart policy and governance for industrial decarbonisation, just transitions for industrial decarbonisation in the UK and the politics of industrial decarbonisation policy.

IDRIC will work closely with the UK’s major industrial clusters to address the challenges of industrial decarbonisation alongside a diverse range of over 140 partners as part of a drive to create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial cluster by 2040 and four low-carbon clusters by 2030.

Prof Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School and Director of the Sussex Energy Group, said: “Decarbonizing industry is absolutely central to limiting the impact of climate change but there are no simple solutions, it is one of the hardest energy policy nuts to crack.

“This new interdisciplinary centre will be key to addressing that critical challenge with an ambitious vision to become a leading research program that is truly one of the best in the world but one that is also instrumental in aiding industry to take the steps necessary towards a Net Zero future.”

Jeremy Kent Hall, Professor of Innovation Studies and Director of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “SPRU’s world-renowned, inter-disciplinary research has helped managers and policy makers to address real-world problems for over half a century. The ambition and urgency of IDRIC’s remit is very much a continuation of that tradition.

“This is vitally important work that will hopefully prove to be of tremendous benefit to UK industry but also help to establish a decarbonisation template for the world to follow and act upon.”

Professor Steven McGuire, Dean of the University of Sussex Business School, said: “I’m delighted that University of Sussex Business School academics will play such a prominent role in this centre which goes to the very heart of the UK’s Net Zero ambitions.

“The world needs urgent action on decarbonisation if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change in the future and I’m confident that the work of our academics will set the right path for meeting the enormity of the challenge ahead.”

IDRIC is part of the Industrial Decarbonisation challenge, delivered through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) by UKRI, and part of the commitments set out in the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a green revolution. IDRIC will accelerate the transformation of industrial clusters into world leading low-carbon manufacturing hubs which will attract major inward investment, support job creation and underpin the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions.

The centre funding has been announced as part of a wider £166.5m Government investment designed to accelerate the delivery of the critical game-changing technologies needed to further drive Britain’s climate change ambitions, while creating over 60,000 jobs across the UK.

The investment is designed to help put the UK at the forefront of the green technologies of the future, while supporting British industries to lowers costs, remain competitive and protect jobs as they improve their energy efficiency and transition to a green economy.

Dr Bryony Livesey, Challenge Director for the Industrial Decarbonisation challenge, said: “The introduction of the IDRIC concept shows the commitment to not only fund largescale 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 to remain at the forefront of a global low-carbon future.”

Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We are determined to tackle climate change and make it win-win for both our planet and our economy. Today’s major cash boost – targeted at our most polluting industries – will encourage the rapid development of the technologies we need to reign in our emissions and transition to a green economy, one that reduces costs for business, boosts investment and create jobs.”

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