Cumbria’s Biggest Manufacturers On A Mission To Help Tackle Climate Change

Cumbria’s biggest manufacturing businesses are making progress to cut their carbon emissions as part of a region-wide mission to tackle climate change.

A review by the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) looks at what the county’s 15 most energy intensive industries accounting for 95 percent of the county’s industrial emissions, are doing to decarbonise.

Methods include increasing efficiency to reduce energy consumption, switching fuels, and exploring the role of carbon capture – with Cumbria boasting an opportunity for one of the biggest carbon capture and storage sites in the UK. 

For clean economic growth to happen in Cumbria, it’s essential that businesses of all sizes decarbonise.

Priority ways in which this can be done include reducing direct emissions from processes, cutting indirect emissions such as building heating, as well as targeting other indirect emissions from the supply chain.

Claire Deekes, Chair of Cumbria LEP’s Business Decarbonisation Strategy Group and Chief Customer Officer The Cumberland Building Society said: “Cumbria’s high-performing manufacturing businesses are the backbone of the county’s economy, supporting thousands of skilled jobs and making a significant contribution to our prosperity.

“But they face the dual challenge of both remaining competitive and transitioning to a zero carbon future.

“Decarbonising our job-creating, energy-intensive industries is one of the biggest challenges in reaching a net zero society.

“The results of the review show that Cumbria’s biggest manufacturers are taking this issue really seriously, are actively putting measures in place to cut emissions and are continuously exploring ways to make positive environmental changes.

“That determination demonstrates their support to be a driving force in Cumbria’s low carbon future.”

Ian Wheeler, the LEP’s Head of Clean Energy added: “We now need to collaborate across the sector to explore and support regionally-significant projects that could benefit these businesses – such as regional energy hubs supplying low carbon power – and ensure the Government provides the necessary support and consistency in policy to allow business to make essential decarbonisation investments.

“The next stage in the work programme is to bring in more businesses and to continue to support the 15 businesses that we have already worked with to implement their plans”

The UK has set legally binding targets to become net zero emissions by 2050.

In Cumbria, industry accounts for around 18 percent of carbon emissions, more than that produced by our homes but less than the amount of CO2 created from agriculture (35 percent) and transport (21 percent)

It’s often challenging for manufacturing industries to cut carbon emissions, given the amount of heat and power usually required in their processes.

Major industries that took part in the LEP’s Review included BAE Systems, Tata Steel, Pirelli, Nestle, Kimberly-Clark and Sellafield among others.

The review reveals how:

  • Most business have net zero targets in place and are making progress to reduce their emissions
  • Methods involve switching to renewable energy supplies, including on-site biomass power, arrangements to buy 100% renewable electricity and exploring the use of hydrogen for heat instead of natural gas 
  • Manufacturers are taking steps to increase process and management efficiencies to reduce their overall energy consumption
  • All are exploring longer-term opportunities to make radical changes and become net zero

The work also identifies how these energy-intensive industries could benefit from shared opportunities in the region.

It details how planned projects such as Barrow Green Hydrogen Hub, the Great Oaks Renewable Energy Park in North Cumbria, and carbon capture as part of the Morecambe Bay Net Zero Hub could collectively help business reduce their emissions.

Marjorie Neasham Glasgow, CEO of Ridge Clean Energy and Ridge Carbon Capture said: “Cumbria is a centre of innovation and leadership for manufacturing in the UK. Supporting this vital sector as it decarbonises requires collaboration between industry, government, and the clean energy sector.

“The CLEP Decarbonisation Review provides focus on what needs to be done and the opportunities for investment to ensure Cumbria continues to be a vibrant place for investment and jobs in our lower carbon future.’’

Graham Ellis, EMEA Sustainability & Footprint Director from Kimberly-Clark adds: “The CLEP Decarbonisation Review is great document to show the scale of the change happening across Cumbria. The reaction from BEIS is very encouraging.”

It’s all part of the Cumbria LEP’s twin net zero priorities to support clean energy generation and to support businesses to decarbonise.

These priorities are being taken forward through the Clean Energy Strategy and the Business Decarbonisation Plan, both of which were published by the LEP earlier in the year.

The Clean Energy Strategy contains plans to create 13,000 new green jobs.

The LEP is also currently reviewing applications to its ‘Innovation for Success’ £1 million+ grant programme, a quarter of which will support SME businesses introduce new methods to reduce their carbon emissions and reduce energy costs