Zero Carbon Humber: Supporting the ambitions of the East Coast Cluster, Zero Carbon Humber is a partnership which aims to build the world’s first net zero industrial region

A first of a kind

As the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has made clear, decarbonising industry is not just an option, it is a necessity if the UK is to reach its goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions while delivering economic growth. The Humber Estuary and surrounding regions offer the opportunity to deliver the UK’s first zero carbon region and help position the North of England at the heart of the global energy revolution.

Zero Carbon Humber’s ambition is big, the potential is bigger: helping the UK achieve a net zero carbon economy by 2050.

Transforming an industrial powerhouse

Industrial powerhouses like the Yorkshire and the Humber region are an essential and valued part of the UK’s economy but produce high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions: the Humber is the most carbon intensive industrial cluster in the country.

Developing carbon capture usage and storage (CCS or CCUS) and low carbon hydrogen (H2) technology and shared regional infrastructure delivered by the East Coast Cluster would preserve jobs by enabling energy intensive industries to continue to operate and thrive whilst decarbonising against a backdrop of ever tighter emissions targets linked to the UK’s carbon budgets.

Without these technologies, the Humber will face perhaps insurmountable challenges.

By drawing on its existing skills and infrastructure, the Humber can become the base for the UK’s first net zero carbon industrial region, helping to create a cleaner environment for future generations whilst delivering new jobs and export opportunities for British businesses.

£18 bn

of the UK’s economy is generated in the Humber each year, driven largely by its deep expertise in industrial processes

360,000 jobs

are supported by industries such as refining, petrochemicals, manufacturing and power generation


of the Humber region’s economic value comes from energy-intensive industries, such as steel


of CO₂ emissions from the UK’s six largest industrial clusters comes from the Humber

10 million tonnes

of CO₂ could be captured by at least two UK clusters by 2030


The Zero Carbon Humber Partnership has jointly submitted a public and private sector funded bid worth around £75 million to unlock and accelerate decarbonisation in the UK’s most carbon intensive industrial region.

The proposals include low carbon hydrogen production, CCUS and shared onshore and offshore infrastructure and greenhouse gas removal technology.

How Zero Carbon Humber Will Work

Hydrogen economy

The creation of a hydrogen economy will be a key component of decarbonising the Humber and wider Yorkshire region. Hydrogen is a low-carbon fuel that can be used in power, transport, heating and as a form of short-term energy storage.

Many in the Humber region and beyond are now looking to hydrogen as one of the key fuels of the future. It can be blended with natural gas to lower the carbon footprint of domestic heating, and to a greater degree in industrial manufacturing where high temperatures are required, such as in steel and chemicals. Lowering the carbon emissions from heating can make a huge impact on overall emissions whilst opening new opportunities for greener steel and chemicals to become competitive in an increasingly environmentally-conscious international market.

Additionally, many forms of transport are currently trialling hydrogen as a low-carbon alternative to oil-based fuels. Hydrogen-powered trains have recently made their first trial journeys on UK railways, whilst hydrogen cars are available from some manufacturers.  Ferries powered by hydrogen are undergoing trials.

If we are to take advantage of these undeniable opportunities, the UK will require a source of low carbon hydrogen at a commercial scale, as envisaged in the Climate Change Committee’s “Net Zero” report. Currently this can only be achieved through reforming natural gas, a tried and tested process which is used throughout the world, and which uses carbon capture to prevent the CO2 by-product being released into the atmosphere. By stimulating market demand for the fuel, it also opens the gateway for greener forms of hydrogen to be produced more competitively in future.

The Zero Carbon Humber proposals offer low carbon hydrogen production at scale via the H2H Saltend site, as well as at multiple other sites along the pipeline infrastructure’s route.     

CCUS at scale and shared infrastructure

Carbon dioxide (CO) will be captured at scale from power generation, fuel production and industrial processes around the region. This will be transported via pipelines to be permanently and safely stored offshore under the southern North Sea. The onshore CO2 pipeline will be laid alongside a hydrogen pipeline, allowing industrial users to both capture their emissions and utilise locally produced low carbon hydrogen.

CO transport and storage infrastructure will allow industrial users to drastically reduce their carbon footprint and produce greener products for home and export markets. It will also enable the decarbonisation of flexible power generation – such as at SSE Thermal’s proposed Keadby 3 plant – which will continue to play an essential role in managing demand and ensuring security of supply into the future.

The delivery of transport and storage infrastructure in the Humber will support the region in retaining its proud heritage in industry and power generation, providing valuable economic activity and essential electricity capacity for the UK.

Negative emissions power from BECCS

Today Drax Power Station is the largest single source of renewable energy in Britain, thanks to its use of sustainably sourced wood pellets. This is because the CO2 captured by the forests from which biomass is sourced is equal to the emissions it releases when used to generate electricity.

When bioenergy is combined with CCUS technology, known as BECCS, the overall process of electricity generation removes more CO2 from the atmosphere than it releases – hence delivering negative emissions power.

The pioneering greenhouse gas removal (GGR) technology at the North Yorkshire plant – allowing Drax to become a carbon negative company by 2030 – will also allow abundant reliable, renewable power to be generated for the Humber region and far beyond.

“The development of the ZCH project will afford us the opportunity to utilise a range of techniques to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations. This project complements the long-term decarbonising technology roadmap of British Steel.”

– Ron Deelen, CEO, British Steel

“The H2H Saltend project at the centre of this bid will both demonstrate the value of hydrogen and carbon capture across the wider energy system, and unlock the transformation of the Humber into the UK’s largest and greenest industrial cluster.”

– Al Cook, Country Manager, Equinor

“Advancing the Zero Carbon Humber plan is a major opportunity to decarbonise the UK’s most carbon-intensive industrial region – protecting jobs, tackling climate change and helping this uniquely well-placed area to deliver clean growth after Covid.”

– Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group

“Zero Carbon Humber’s infrastructure is a key enabler for our plans to develop clean hydrogen production at our Killingholme site to contribute to decarbonisation and employment in the region.”

– Mike Lockett, UK Country Chairman, Uniper

“The Humber has the potential to play a pivotal role in the UK’s transition to a net-zero future, and it’s essential we’re working together across the industries in the region to turn this vision into a reality.

– Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director, SSE Thermal

A globally competitive industrial region

Through enabling a hydrogen economy, large-scale carbon capture across the region and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) creating the world’s first negative emissions power station, Zero Carbon Humber will accelerate decarbonisation across the wider Yorkshire region and reinforce the UK’s position as a global leader in clean growth. 

What a Zero Carbon Humber would look like

Site map of Zero Carbon Humber. Click to view/download