ellesmere port car manufacturing factory

Net zero roadmap clears path for UK manufacturers to decarbonise

Image credit: Dreamstime

A roadmap to help UK manufacturers decarbonise their operations by 2050 has been unveiled by Make UK and Inspired Energy.

A recent study found that while the UK plans to rapidly scale up its renewable energy infrastructure in the coming years, manufacturers may struggle to move away from production processes that are traditionally led by fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, Make UK said its members “overwhelmingly” believe they can achieve net zero by 2050 as long as they have enough support.

Many have already committed to reduce the direct emissions generated by manufacturing processes (scope 1) and indirect emissions from purchased energy (scope 2) by 67 per cent by the end of this decade.

Some have also committed to support their suppliers and customers to achieve net zero, an area that is likely to constitute the bulk of the emissions for the sector overall. For example, in automotive manufacturing, this would take into account not just the carbon impact of producing the product, but also the carbon used by the customer fuelling the vehicle over its lifetime.

Make UK’s latest plan would establish four low-carbon industrial clusters by 2030 alongside additional “mini-clusters” at various UK sites.

“To meet these goals industry needs a conducive business and operational environment alongside a robust policy landscape and the right access to finance, education and reliable energy supply at a reasonable price,” the body said.

The roadmap put forward a number of proposals for the near term including avoiding high-carbon production methods from the outset, maximising heat recovery in high-temperature sites, equipping workers with new green and digital technology skills, and encouraging companies to engage with their supply chains.

It also presents the shift towards green technologies as a “major opportunity” due to greater access to finance for green investments, the benefits of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, as well as developing and exporting new products that are more sustainable

Stephen Phipson, Make UK CEO, said: “There is a mountain ahead to climb, but I look forward to seeing the progress which I have no doubt will demonstrate over again the creativity and resilience of our sector and its importance to our economy, now and in future.”

Professor Steve Evans at the University of Cambridge, who worked on the development of the net zero roadmap, said: “You will find a massively important consensus across all sub-sectors on the need for ambitious targets to be set now to ensure action is taken in the short term. These manufacturers want to start on this new journey with hope for the opportunities it can bring, as well as travelling with trepidation for the many challenges that we need to work together to solve. I wish us all good luck.”

A report earlier this month found that decarbonisation efforts could have an uneven impact on different sectors across the country which could see some areas hit by large job losses, especially those in heavy industry and vehicle manufacturing.

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