Long Awaited Cluster Plan Unveils Welsh Decarbonisation Plans
The South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) has just launched its Cluster Plan report. Hydrogen Industry Leaders explores the key points of the report.

Titled ‘South Wales Industry – A Plan for Clean Growth’ report is the culmination of 26 months of work by around 40 Welsh businesses, academia, and public bodies.

It outlines 30 policy drivers that SWIC thinks are vital to decarbonise industry, and SWIC believes that if the policy drivers within its report are urgently implemented by stakeholders, the South Wales industry could accelerate Wales’s contribution to limiting global warming and help retain economic prosperity for the region.

How Will SWIC Help Contribute To A Prosperous Wales?

South Wales is home to a significant industrial base, including the UK’s largest integrated steelworks, one of the UK’s seven oil refineries and one of only four nickel refineries in Europe.

In addition, there are several other energy-intensive manufacturing plants and industries within a diverse range of sectors, including steel recycling, cement, paper, glass, mineral wool and chemicals, food, and general manufacturing industries.

As well as its unique industries, South Wales has a large energy supply sector, including large combined cycle gas turbine power stations, one of which is among the largest in Europe. Also, it has numerous onshore wind sites and two liquified natural gas terminals, which supply over 20 per cent of the UK’s natural gas demand.

The SWIC collaboration aims to deliver regional industrial collaboration, challenge alongside and accelerate the timescales laid out by the UK’s emissions policies and contribute to a more prosperous Wales.

Showcasing ambitious plans to achieve net zero industries in South Wales by 2040, equating to a 40 per cent reduction of current Welsh carbon emissions, the SWIC Vision is planning to achieve the retention of 113,000 jobs and a net positive increase in jobs overall, unlocking £30 billion investment opportunities in the region, and growing the £6 billion Gross Value Added from South Wales industry.

SWIC has explained in the report that: “The Cluster Plan Project has resulted in a transformational change in terms of industrial collaboration and vision setting in the region.

“SWIC aims to extend the reach and responsibilities of its industrial partners in order to create a connecting industrial and energy network that extends “beyond the fence line” and results in the new future for South Wales infrastructure.”

Why Is Collaboration Crucial For Clustering?

One of the key priorities outlined in the report is that industries must ensure that energy and carbon policies, plus support mechanisms are internationally competitive.

Currently, industry and businesses in the UK pay more for energy and electricity than in other European countries, adding to economic pressure for companies to either stay using traditional energy and not switch to electric methods or move to countries with more affordable and competitive energy prices.

The report explains that seeing the provision of business model support for electrification and CCU implemented is key: “Provision of business model support for electrification and Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) equivalent to the support for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Hydrogen.”

This will deliver efficient industries in the long run and support the development of the circular economy.

Urgent development of the South Wales electricity grid and hydrogen infrastructure is desperately needed. Without grid connectivity and a hydrogen network, the industry will not have the infrastructure needed to implement its optimal decarbonisation pathway and maximise the potential of the Celtic Sea floating wind.

It is crucial for the Celtic Freeport bid to be successful as this will accelerate the preparation within the region for building and maintaining floating offshore wind, renewable generation, low carbon fuels, skills, and supply chains.

The final key priority needed is the push for collaboration, the report reveals that this is essential for clustering: “Support is needed to ensure ongoing collaboration maximises on the development of skills plans, supply chain opportunities, research and innovation benefits, and the development of Clean Growth Hubs.”

South Wales Is At The Forefront Of Decarbonisation Activities In The UK

Dr Chris Williams, Head of Industrial Decarbonisation at Industry Wales, who has been leading SWIC since its inception in 2019, expressed that the report could help to create new industries: “This report sets out a step-by-step roadmap for the decarbonisation south Wales industry and the infrastructure required to achieve net zero.”

It could potentially unlock an unprecedented £30billion investment in south Wales, creating new industries, producing tens of thousands of jobs and securing thousands more.

He continued to explain that for these industries to be created, plans need to be backed and that South Wales is a leader of decarbonisation in the country: “Our industries need a solid plan, backed by supportive policies, to enable them to carry out their own individual decarbonisation journeys, which in turn will support our south Wales communities and future generations.”

“We have unique opportunities in south Wales with the Port of Milford Haven – which supplies 20 per cent of the UK’s energy supply – to be at the forefront of decarbonisation activities in the UK. To do nothing now would mean we are always playing catch up, and that is simply not an option.”

This report is key for the future of Welsh industry. To get to this point is hugely important and will forever be marked in history as the start of a new economic revolution for south Wales Industry.

Industries In South Wales Are Looking To Using Hydrogen

So far, the Cluster Plan Project has supported SWIC’s industries to individually assess their decarbonisation options, forming local infrastructure requirements which are being developed using the concept of ‘SuperPlaces’, such as Milford Haven, and Clean Growth Hubs (CGHs). CGHs are emerging in Port Talbot, Barry, Cardiff, and Newport to accelerate local infrastructure needs.

As industries in South Wales look to hydrogen and electrification, larger amounts of low-carbon power generation and an electricity grid that is fit for purpose will be needed to help achieve net zero. The Milford Haven SuperPlace, where it is thought that most of the low carbon power and hydrogen will be created, plays a key role in the decarbonisation of South Wales’s electricity system by 2035.

In addition, the HyLine Cymru project announced by Wales and Western Utilities would provide the ability to transport that hydrogen away from Milford Haven into the middle of SWIC and link to the developing National Gas Transmission’s Project Union.