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Support for clean industrial growth in the Black Country, to develop plans for zero carbon hubs and reduce energy costs, is being provided through a new project launched by the Black Country Consortium, in partnership with the University of Birmingham.

Called Repowering the Black Country, the project is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and is part of the national drive to help the UK achieve net zero emissions as part of Government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

By including the Black Country within the scope of the national funding programmes for industrial decarbonisation the government is recognising the critical and distinctive role played by thousands of smaller and medium-sized energy-intense manufacturing businesses which have historically made their homes in the Black Country.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham will assess which local interventions would have most impact given national decarbonisation plans, and will establish how the Black Country can become an exemplar for industrial decarbonisation across the UK.

Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Reader in Energy Systems and Innovation at the University of Birmingham, and academic lead for the Black Country Industrial Cluster said: “Implementing effective local and regional measures that consider the whole energy system will be critical if the country is to fully decarbonise. Technical solutions and governance arrangements must be aligned across these scales to achieve a sustainable transition. The Black Country, with its diverse economy and population, a long history of industrial innovation, and a committed group of stakeholders, is an ideal place to be carrying out this work.”

Led by the Black Country Consortium, the Repowering the Black Country partnership also includes local businesses Kew Technology, Pro Enviro and CR Plus and the University of Warwick.

Focused on industrial energy costs, the project will work with Black Country local authorities and businesses to develop plans for zero-carbon energy hubs. These will showcase Black Country manufacturing technology and use local resources, including commercial waste and renewable energy, to deliver zero carbon power. The team will work across all the Black Country Local Authorities to facilitate and plan for small-scale unobtrusive power stations, located on brownfield sites, to deliver electricity and heat to nearby businesses.

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board said: “This funding is another step towards the Black Country putting in place plans to decarbonise our industrial supply chains and lead the way nationally for industrial clean energy. The Repowering the Black Country project is a real partnership approach to planning for the future of our world-class industrial sector.

“This boost will enable the team to work across the Black Country with local authorities and industry to develop zero carbon industrial estates that optimise and generate clean energy in the most efficient way. Zero carbon means lower energy bills, lower carbon emissions and commercial opportunities locally – all of which will be good news for the Black Country economy.”

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The UK is leading the world’s green industrial revolution, with ambitious targets to decarbonise our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“As we continue to level up the UK economy and build back greener, we must ensure every sector is reducing carbon emissions to help us achieve our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.

“This funding will help key industrial areas meet the challenge of contributing to our cleaner future while maintaining their productive and competitive strengths.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our region’s plan for economic recovery is all about delivering the high-paid, high skilled, ‘green’ jobs of the future. This funding partnership is both good news for West Midlands jobs and industry, helping businesses grow while using less energy.

“The West Midlands Combined Authority has an ambitious #WM2041 plan for the region to be carbon neutral by 2041. This Government funding for clean industrial development in the Black Country will help our region build on its long history of manufacturing, building a green economy that’s good for jobs and good for the planet.”

Funded by UK Research and Innovation, on behalf of the UK government, Repowering the Black Country is one of only 7 projects funded nationally focused on helping the UK achieve net zero emissions by 2050 as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. This is a key component of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

The Repowering the Black Country team encouraging business and industry to get in touch to find out how they can play their part. 

  • For further information contact Helen Annetts, PR on Behalf of the Black Country Consortium on 07779026720.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aligns activity across private and public sectors to create the right environment for businesses with a remit to tackle barriers to business growth and create a globally competitive local economy.