Further investment in Net Zero research and innovation positions Teesside to lead the green revolution
A brand-new research and innovation facility was confirmed as part of the region’s growing Net Zero credentials, placing the Tees Valley firmly at the heart of the UK’s green industrial revolution.
Teesside University and The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority unveiled plans to develop a new £13.5m industry-led Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre (NZIIC) to support the ongoing drive for clean energy and sustainability.
The news followed a number of major announcements in hydrogen and clean energy for the Tees Valley, including confirmation that bp will set up a ‘blue’ hydrogen production facility on Teesside and the UK’s Hydrogen Transport Centre which will be constructed next door to TWI. There has been a £3m boost to create the UK’s first multi-modal hydrogen hub and Net Zero Teesside and the Northern Endurance Partnership project has secured an extra £52million to develop its infrastructure.
The announcement of the NZIIC was the latest development at the expanding Net Zero Innovation Hub, spearheaded by Teesside University and based on the Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park (TeesAMP) in Middlesbrough. The Net Zero Innovation Hub brings together expert insight, resources and partnerships to grow net zero capabilities and opportunities, placing the region at the forefront of the clean energy agenda and helping to create hundreds more clean energy jobs.
Set to be a national centre of excellence, the Net Zero Innovation Hub draws on Teesside University’s expertise in clean energy and sustainability, which last year saw the launch of two brand-new centres aligned to this ongoing work – the Circular Economy and Recycling Innovation Centre and the Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Innovation Centre, both set up in partnership with TWI. As well as working closely with TWI, the centre will link to pilot plant facilities at the Materials Processing Institute (MPI) site in Redcar.
There has already been significant investment to establish the Hub, with further projects totalling £20m underway. These include the recently announced National Hydrogen Transport Centre, focused on the research, development and testing of new hydrogen technologies; TWI’s Centre for Materials Integrity, with an Engineering Hall for larger scale technology and testing; and the University’s Tees Valley Hydrogen Innovation Project, which supports SMEs to develop low carbon initiatives, as well as a new Industrial Technologies Digitalisation Centre, which will be used to develop digital technologies used for energy reduction.
The Net Zero Innovation Hub is also set to provide key infrastructure across major developments confirmed for the Tees Valley, including the UK’s National Hub for Hydrogen Transport and the Teesside Freeport, which aims to establish low carbon engineering sector in the Freeport zone.
The new Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre project is central to this activity. Led by Teesside University, the Centre is the subject of a proposed £13.5m funding package seeking formal approval from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority and the European Regional Development Fund.
Work on the NZIIC is scheduled to begin in September, with completion expected by August 2022. National architectural practice, GSS Architecture, have been appointed for the design and delivery of the Centre.
The NZIIC will be industry-led and industry-focused in its approach, working with business partners and key organisations including the Materials Processing Institute and TWI and will focus on developing new approaches to tackle the impact of waste and pollution on the environment, utilising expertise around industrial decarbonisation, sustainability and the circular economy.
Around 40 specialist staff have been identified to support the net zero work through research and collaborative opportunities, and it is expected to continue to create additional jobs and business growth over the coming decades.
Professor Simon Hodgson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at Teesside University, speaking at the launch of the plans for the centre, said: “The development of the Net Zero Innovation Hub fits perfectly with the knowledge and skills we have at the University and allows us to align our expertise to meet the demands of the Government’s industrial and climate change strategies.
“It provides a unique opportunity to grow our capabilities across areas including sustainability, clean energy and the circular economy – all of which are of increasing political and social importance.
“The Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre will be the focal point of this ambitious new Net Zero Innovation Hub and will provide a coherent and comprehensive industry-focused Research, Development and Innovation offer for the region and beyond, with Teesside University at its heart.
“We are looking forward to leading this project and working with partners to place the region at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, added: “I’m delighted to be supporting plans for Teesside University to create the Innovation Centre. Projects like these are putting Teesside at the centre of developing the technology needed to achieve the government’s ambitious net zero targets. With the government and major global companies such as bp investing in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, this centre will help support the industries of the future that are central to my plan for jobs, a plan that is already creating good-quality, well-paid jobs for local workers.
“The centre will be a fantastic example of what can be done when our brilliant local institutions work together, sharing their expertise and skills to help our businesses to grow.
“This is the latest in a long list of initiatives which are boosting our region’s clean energy credentials, building on our work to become the UK’s premier location for offshore wind and the Net Zero Teesside project to develop the UK’s first decarbonised industrial cluster. Together these will help us to achieve our ambitious plans for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to become a national powerhouse for clean energy.”
European Regional Development Fund
Subject to approval, the project is receiving up to £7million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. More information about European Regional Development Fund.