Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise

How the Humber could fuel low-carbon transition with £36m Strength in Places funding

A University of Hull-led bid to secure £36m of clean energy funding would help the Humber “lead the way” to a low-carbon economy.

Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said developing expertise and technologies in renewable energy had added “great value” to the University.

Joining industry leaders at Marketing Humber’s Annual Ambassador Event, Dr Richards spoke about the huge benefits £36m of Strength in Places funding would bring to the Humber region.

UK Research and Innovation is set to award a limited number of bids from regions across the country with funding to drive sustainable economic growth.

A University-led consortium of businesses, with Marketing Humber chair Andy Parkinson acting as its CEO, has pitched the case for the Humber being at the heart of the UK’s decarbonisation agenda.

Dr Richards said: “The £36m Strength in Places fund bid would utilise the Humber as a test bed for understanding how future low-carbon economies might work, with the aim of generating economic growth.

“The University of Hull is the lead institution in the bid, and I asked Andy Parkinson to be the CEO of the Strength in Places bid. We simply could not have got this far without the support of businesses and colleagues in the public sector.”

No industrial challenge is greater than the one faced by the Humber region.

As the single biggest carbon-emitting industrial corridor in the UK, securing the £36m bid would help “map out a low-carbon economy for the Humber and the potentially the world,” Dr Richards said.

If successful, the £36m Strength in Places bid would help drive what has been dubbed ‘Energy Estuary 2.0’ in the Humber region.

Looking to build on the Humber’s world-leading offshore wind sector, a focus would also be placed on pioneering technologies including carbon capture, usage and storage, hydrogen, and smart microgrids to balance supply and demand of energy,

These technologies have all been touted as potential ways to help the Humber region become net-zero for carbon emissions by 2040.

Dr Richards said: “The funding would support projects with businesses, local authorities, the health sector and communities to map out a low-carbon economy for the Humber and potentially the world.

“The Humber will have the opportunity to lead the way. The partnership with Marketing Humber, Andy Parkinson leading the bid, enabled the Strength in Places bid to get traction and added great value to the university and hopefully the region.”

Andy Parkinson, chair at Marketing Humber, said: “This is a hugely important agenda for the Humber.

“We are quite unique that we have this business range in the Humber, which all has the common problem of energy and decarbonising.

“If successful, the funding would support real demonstrator projects, and that money would flow straight into businesses, many of which are Bondholder businesses.”

At Marketing Humber’s Waterline Summit last November, the University of Hull unveiled a bold vision to become carbon neutral by 2027.

The University of Hull will achieve this in a number of ways – through a transition to renewable sources of energy to fuel its campus, and energy efficiencies to optimise its estate and infrastructure.

A focus is also being made on reducing single-use plastics, improving recycling rates, reducing water consumption, and encouraging colleagues to make sustainable travel choices.

Dr Richards also paid credit to the growth of the University’s Energy & Environment Institute.

Founded by Prof. Dan Parsons in 2017 with a team of just two, this year almost 100 researchers and academics will work together to tackle the climate change challenge.

The importance of Aura, and its £12m Innovation Centre, was also emphasised.

The centre provides a space for SMEs in the low-carbon and renewables sectors to collaborate, innovative and find new solutions to decarbonise industry and drive economic growth.

“For some time, the university has been building strength in renewable energy technologies to better understand the impact of climate change,” Dr Richards said.

“Growing a low carbon economy will take work from businesses both large and small. We need to innovate to drive low-carbon consumption through new products and existing products manufactured in a new way. All of that will need new skills.

“The Humber is not only open for business, it is leading on creating new business.”

You can watch Marketing Humber’s Annual Ambassador Event in full here.

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