Decarbonisation of small industrial clusters

Grantham Scholar Joe Hammond researches small industrial clusters in comparison to larger clusters with regards to decarbonisation and hydrogen.

The project

The UK is home to many large and small industrial clusters that are vital to its economy but are also responsible for a significant proportion of GHG emissions. Large clusters are key to the industrial decarbonisation strategy proposed, with plans underway in multiple regions that leverage economies of scale by designing systems that interlink the decarbonisation of large emitters. However, smaller industrial clusters that are geographically stranded present a significant challenge; examples include the Black Country Cluster and the Sheffield City Region, where total emissions total ca. 0.5 Mt CO2/year.

As with large clusters, fuel switching and adaption of processes to hydrogen is key, but the smaller scale also requires careful consideration of the design of the local infrastructure because it will dominate the cost to a larger degree; it needs to be right-sized for the evolution in demand and use, and be cognisant of the decision-making of key stakeholders. Smaller clusters may make decarbonisation efforts more manageable and cost-effective as they are often more homogeneous and easier to monitor; however, it could also limit the number of decarbonisation options and make leveraging economies of scale difficult.

This project will study small industrial clusters and their comparison with larger clusters. The study will take a whole-system approach encompassing the local generation of hydrogen, its use in small-scale foundational industries (i.e. steel, glass etc.) and the design of the necessary infrastructure.


Professor Solomon Brown

Professor of Process and Energy Systems


Rachael Rothman

Professor Rachael Rothman

Grantham Centre Co-Director