IPPR North Research Outlines Green Steel Potential in North UK
The leading think-tank for the north of England Institute for Public Policy Research has published a blueprint to transform the North’s steel industry into a world leading, job generating, and planet protecting industry of the future. Researchers have found that a nationwide commitment to, and investment in decarbonising the steel industry in the North could help the industry become net zero by 2036, at the same time as levelling up the regional and national economy by saving around 12,000 jobs directly across the region, and a further 20,000-27,000 jobs in the supply chain across the UK. To achieve a greener industry, Institute for Public Policy Research North recommends a strategy that drives innovation by harnessing the potential of electrification, carbon capture storage, and hydrogen technologies. In fact, at least a further 40,000 energy generation and fuel supply jobs could be created in these industries across the North by the early 2030s.
The UK steel industry is of national strategic importance with over one-third of the industry’s jobs based in the North, in places like South Yorkshire, Teesside, and the Humber, meaning that the North has what it takes to lead the UK, and the world, in the development and production of green steel. Researchers said that UK must act fast to seize the opportunity to recast steel as an industry of the future and become a competitive world leader in green steel technologies. They recommend that the steel industry, UK government, northern leaders and trade unions work together to plan for the future of the industry, and that the public and private sector invest in steel as part of a post-Covid green stimulus. This investment would include a ramping up of the important R&D innovation already happening in the North, bridging the long-standing funding gap between the North and the South East.
Research details how the decarbonising steel in the North will require significant annual investment to develop new technologies and encourage uptake. The costs would need to be met by the industry and government, both playing their part. Annual investment would be needed to help cover costs of around GBP 150 million a year up to the 2030s, before rising to GBP 300 million by 2035 and failing to £267m by 2050. Treasury investment would decrease as time goes on. Researchers say that this investment in achieving net zero will “more than deliver for all” and that the path to net zero will support a UK wide industry that could take advantage of future market opportunities worth GBP 3.8 billion a year by 2030.