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New 10-year project aims to decarbonise industry and manufacturing in the Black Country

Loughborough’s School of Business and Economics will be working with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on a new project aimed at reducing the amount of industrial CO2 in the Black Country.

The Black Country Decarbonisation Programme was launched earlier this month at the Servosteel plant in Dudley and will initially develop four pilot zero carbon industrial hubs.

Within the next 10 years, it will aim to reduce the region’s industrial carbon emissions by around 1.3Mt of CO2 while keeping energy costs competitive and attracting high quality manufacturing jobs to the area.

It will be delivered via Repowering the Black Country – a programme that supports Black Country businesses with global clean growth opportunities and a net zero industrial future.  

Loughborough’s Professor Jan Godsell, Dean of the School of Business and Economics will lead an initiative which will focus on new business model designs to support the region’s circular economy.

She said: “If the UK is to meet its net Zero 2050 target, in addition to the adoption of low carbon energy sources, new business models that decouple consumption from production are key.

“This enables products to be kept in their highest possible value state as they are repaired, refurbished, remanufactured, or redistributed and supports the principles of a more Circular Economy.

“Loughborough University and WMG, University of Warwick are thrilled to be working together to develop the business model designs that will support the Net Zero hubs to achieve their ambition.”

Picture: Back row l - r: Nersi Salehi of Pro Enviro, Professor Jan Godsell, Loughborough University School of Business & Economics, Matthew Rhodes Project Director Repowering the Black Country.

Front row l - r: Sarah Middleton Chief Executive Black Country LEP, Andy Street Mayor of the West Midlands, Tom Westley Chair of the Black Country LEP Board, Mark Anderson, Director Servosteel.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is an important programme for the West Midlands and the UK as a whole as we look to tackle the climate emergency.

“I’ve just returned from COP26 where I’ve been talking about the opportunity for green industries to transform industrial heartlands like the West Midlands – and this programme is a case in point.

“I’m delighted to see the Black Country at the forefront of our efforts to respond to the global climate crisis, and repowering the Black Country shows that we can create jobs and opportunities through decarbonisation.”

Repowering the Black Country is one of six industrial cluster decarbonisation projects funded by BEIS and UKRI. The Black Country Industrial Cluster consists of more than 3000 energy-intense manufacturing businesses. Our project is supporting the national industrial decarbonisation strategy by developing approaches which work in the Black Country and can then be applied more widely.

The project is about providing cost-efficient energy infrastructure across the Black Country; helping companies benefit from new supply chain opportunities in the circular economy; and supporting resource efficiency initiatives in manufacturing operations. 

The UK government has committed to the country having net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Decarbonisation of industry is key to achieving this goal, and is a top priority for the current government, who have committed over £20bn to industrial decarbonisation investments over the next 10 years. This may include the phasing out of gas as a fuel, development of a hydrogen infrastructure, and fundamental changes in the way electricity is charged. They are also considering carbon labelling of manufactured products and extending emissions trading schemes to smaller businesses.

Led by the Black Country LEP, the Repowering the Black Country partnership includes local businesses Kew Technology, Pro Enviro and CR Plus, supported by specialists from the University of Birmingham and WMG, University of Warwick, as well as companies specialising in urban agriculture (District Eating) and energy investment (M3MAS).

Find out more about Repowering the Black Country at: https://www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/our-strategy/place/repowering-the-black-country/

ENDS

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/251

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022, and 10th in both the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

About the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

1.      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.  

2.      Programmes to deliver our vision are structured around three areas of activity:  

  • Business: supporting skills and competitiveness 
  • People: raising skills and employability, for example through our City Deal and Skills Factory; 
  • Place: including the provision of more high-quality employment land through our Enterprise Zone and City Deal. 

3.      The LEP Board has identified seven priority areas where action will have the most impact on the Black Country and its contribution to the national economy: 

  • Exploiting the potential of the Black Country as a place to live, do business and invest; focusing on our housing offer, the quality of employment land, and the distinctive role of our four strategic centres.  
  • Using supply chains to build business commitment to skills and growth 
  • Supporting innovation at our major science and business parks 
  • Building a close relationship with our top 600 companies 
  • Raising our skills levels 
  • Securing inward investment 
  • Developing a more entrepreneurial culture 

4.      The Black Country located at the heart of the national transport network, comprises the metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton. It covers 356 sq kilometres, is home to 1.18 million people, with 23 per cent ethnic minority residents and 463,000 jobs in 37,490 companies. 

For more information on the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership visit www.blackcountrylep.co.uk or follow on Twitter: @blackcountrylep  

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