Case study


Decarbonising power assets in the UK

The UK government has committed to Net Zero targets which it must meet by 2050. This will require empowering businesses to play a greater role in addressing climate change, according to the Chair of the UK Net Zero Review, Chris Skidmore MP. His report ‘Mission Zero’ highlights the historic opportunity offered by Net Zero through to 2037, and at VPI we are actively developing the economic opportunities presented by the energy transition to support those targets. In short, the benefits of investing in Net Zero today outweigh the costs.

VPI’s Humber Zero carbon capture project is part of the regional effort to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from the UK’s largest region in terms of industrial emissions. Capturing around 3 Mt CO2e annually from our combined heat and power plant (CHP) in its first phase, the project is ideally positioned close to around 80% of the UK’s licensed storage capacity beneath the bed of the North Sea.

With the primary objective of “keeping the lights on”, decarbonisation of power generation will be a huge focus for the energy transition and abated gas generation provides flexible and dispatchable power which will remain important for years to come. Renewable technology provides the majority of power in the right circumstances – and on one day in 2022 provided nearly 70% of Britain’s power requirements – but is intermittent and weather dependent.

Mission Zero expects Net Zero to generate a global market opportunity of £1 trillion for UK business by 2030, with the potential for supporting 480,000 jobs. Humber Zero will be the trailblazer in that regard, investing around £1 billion in the south Humber bank and sustaining up to 20,000 jobs in industry that are hard to decarbonise but can see significant reductions in their power usage under the programme.

The Climate Change Committee estimates up to a £60 billion investment will be required annually from the private sector to meet Net Zero targets. The direct costs of decarbonisation will represent less than 1% of GDP over the next three decades if we start it now. The cost of stalling is likely to be considerably higher. The report advocates a clear carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) roadmap outlining near-term and longer-term actions, but Humber Zero has proceeded with planning for the project, with the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase concluding soon and the engineer, procurement and construction phase due to start immediately afterwards.

Decarbonised power will be essential for the UK to meet its legal obligations. Abating gas generation is only the first step and VPI’s strategy will look at how we could move into new areas of decarbonised power in the longer term that provides the flexibility both domestic and commercial users demand.