The Black Country is the world’s first modern industrial cluster with over 3000 energy-intense manufacturing businesses spread across the four metropolitan areas of Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley with metal processing still the biggest sector of the local economy. On January 05, 2021 Pro Enviro were proud to announce our partnership with The Black Country Consortium to support clean industrial growth through the Repowering the Black Country Project. Repowering the Black Country aims to make the Black Country one of the most attractive places in the world to invest in manufacturing by ensuring local businesses have access to competitive, Zero carbon energy before national and international targets of 2040 and beyond. The programme ended in 2023, and was replaced by the Centre of Manufacturing Transition.
The Black Country Cluster is distinctive amongst all UK clusters. It is not only the largest, but it is also the only non-coastal cluster, spreading deep into the urban areas surrounding it. Industry across the Black Country is so integrated into residential areas making it challenging to manage industrial and domestic energy demand separately.
'Repowering the Black Country sets out a vision for clean economic growth drawing on the latest innovations in supply chain and manufacturing thinking and clean energy technology. Once again, it points to a path the rest of the country can follow' - Tom Westley DL, Chair, Black Country LEP regarding the decarbonisation plans for The Black Country.
The Black Country Industrial Cluster plan implemented strategies in all industries to collectively reducing carbon dioxide emissions to as close to zero as possible using low-carbon energy sources and new technology like carbon capture and Zero-carbon hubs. Zero carbon hubs are based around 'anchor' industrial processes, strategically selected to match Black Country skills and strengths. Each industrial hub plan contained a mix of businesses that complement each other while thinking about their energy and waste flows. It is this collaboration that will transform the way carbon emissions are reduced, by potentially eliminating the waste by-products from each industry in the hub, creating a circular Zero carbon-minimal waste collective. The Zero-Carbon Hub will be the first of its kind to provide workable solutions to the climate change issue by achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
We have developed the 1st national Virtual Zero Carbon Hub (VZCHub), which is a knowledge-based platform for businesses to share, collaborate and find information on the carbon reduction opportunities that are available within the Black Country region. Engaging and decarbonising businesses at scale – around 400 SME and 35 non-SME regional manufacturing companies have been supported through the project.
We have been working with the regional LEP to finalise and put in place a separate public funding for business support programme to provide Low Carbon process optimisation for 550 energy intensive Black Country manufacturing businesses to form a Low Carbon Cluster and access to grant funding and soft loans to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions as the first steps towards achieving net-zero carbon status.
We have actively shared the knowledge gained from the development 6 regional ZCHubs with the stakeholder community to accelerate the uptake and extend the reach of the Repowering the Black Country Project. We have also captured and disseminated best practice and shared Zero Carbon Best Available Technique (BAT) amongst the participating companies, with collection and collation of metered energy data from the primary intelligent meters in participating companies’ sites
We have also monitored energy consumption, energy cost and tonnage of CO2 reduction as a result of the implementation of the Low Carbon process optimisation strategies. Repository of national and regional energy strategies and regional MSORA energy consumption and heat maps to identify and select new ZCHub locations.
We provided ongoing technical and expert support in measuring the impact of the implementation of the low and net-zero carbon strategies and the CO2 emissions reduction achieved. We also provided technical and management support to help participating companies to reduce energy consumption and establish action plans to achieve net-zero carbon status