Strategic Innovation Fund


Project Data

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Indus aims to create a framework to develop zero carbon industrial parks, enhancing the decarbonisation of small and medium-sized dispersed industrial sites. This approach will better coordinate electricity network upgrades, reducing costs for both industrial site owners and electricity customers.

What is the project about?

According to HM Government and the DESNZ Net Zero Strategy, UK industrial emissions amount to 78 MtCO2e, roughly 15% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Half of these emissions originate from small and medium-sized dispersed industrial sites, for which there is no coordinated government plan for decarbonisation. 

Decarbonising industry will require extensive electricity network reinforcement. The current lack of coordination, incentives, and visibility between networks, local authorities, and industry will lead to several issues: 

  • Delays in decarbonising industry 
  • Suboptimal network upgrades and investments 
  • Higher costs distributed across network users 

Additionally, the lack of coordination within the industry results in increased overall capital costs for onsite decarbonisation infrastructure. 

Indus suggests the development of industrial net zero industrial hubs where adjacent industrial sites will decarbonise in a coordinated way through shared energy infrastructure such as onsite renewables and optimised operation. 

How we’re doing it

Throughout the project, the team will engage with various stakeholders, including Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), Independent Distribution Network Operators (iDNOs), Independent Connection Providers (ICPs), Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs), Local Authorities (LAs), the National Energy System Operator (NESO), industrial businesses, and others involved in industrial decarbonisation. These engagements aim to understand the challenges these stakeholders face in the decarbonisation of industrial sites. 

The insights gathered will inform the criteria and scope for developing a commercial framework and potential arrangements for zero carbon industrial hubs. The project will also explore how DNOs and LAs can better incorporate industrial decarbonisation into their planning cycles. 

Additionally, the project will identify a shortlist of suitable use cases for the beta phase to demonstrate the Indus solution. For these sites, a technical solution for decarbonisation and an associated investment case will be developed, showcasing how the sites can achieve zero carbon status. 

What makes it innovative

Indus is innovative as it delves into an underexplored solution to industrial decarbonisation. It offers the opportunity to solve the decarbonisation of industrial sites by considering a whole system approach to the concept of clustering dispersed small to medium industrial businesses as zero carbon industrial hubs. Failing to do so, could ultimately lead to uncoordinated and inefficient business and infrastructure investment, risks stranded assets or missed Net Zero targets. 

What we’re learning

The Indus project is revealing several key insights critical to decarbonising small and medium-sized dispersed industrial sites: 

  • Effective data sharing between DNOs, GDNs, industrial customers, and LAs is crucial. Data sharing agreements are essential for accurate forecasting and the success of the Indus solution. 
  • Identifying and forecasting how industries could decarbonise is vital for industries joining decarbonisation clusters, with GDNs and DNOs playing a significant role. Continuous and early engagement is necessary from the initial identification of potential cluster participants to the development of these clusters, involving all stakeholders, including coordinating authorities like NESO. 
  • A coordinating authority is essential for the effective formation and management of clusters. While the commercial solution assigns this role to Regional Energy System Planners (RESPs), further validation is required. 
  • Access to diverse funding options is crucial for Indus businesses to finance their decarbonisation efforts. Various local and national funding sources are available, as outlined in the project’s funding scan document. 
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