Industrial Decarbonisation

Industrial decarbonisation is of critical importance to the UK’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The UK Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC) of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) aims to establish the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040 and four low-carbon clusters by 2030.


The Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) has been formed to support this challenge through funding a multidisciplinary research and innovation centre to accelerate decarbonisation of industrial clusters. The Centre includes research organisations, industry, civil society organisations and policy actors.

The Centre aims to enable the deployment of infrastructure at scale by the mid-2020s as well as boost the competitiveness of key industrial regions and drive inward investment, creating and protecting jobs for a low-carbon global economy with growing low-carbon export markets.

It will support delivery of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge and the Industrial Clusters Mission, which has set an ambition to establish at least one low-carbon industrial cluster by 2030 and the world’s first net-zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040.

Professor Benjamin Sovacool is a co-director of the Centre, and with funding for two years from July 2021, the University of Sussex will lead on three key research topics: smart policy and governance for industrial decarbonisation (Benjamin Sovacool); just transitions for industrial decarbonisation in the UK (Benjamin Sovacool); and the politics of industrial decarbonisation policy (Matthew Lookwood). IDRIC is due to run until 2024.

Research approach

IDRIC’s research and innovation programme is delivered through a range of activities that enable industry-led, multidisciplinary research in cross-cutting areas of technology, policy, economics and regulation.

The research uses a systems approach integrating engineering, environmental and technical solutions with economic, behavioural, policy aspects and including complex interactions. The objectives are to:

  • accelerate challenge-led research through transformative innovation;
  • develop leadership by nurturing talent, building capacity and mapping skills;
  • co-create and share knowledge by stimulating cross-learning, active networks and outreach;
  • support policy and mission advocacy by providing evidence to policy makers and the public.

IDRIC’s research agenda is informed by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Impact and outreach

IDRIC seeks to deliver: (1) Detailed designs and demonstration of industry-scale technologies and shared infrastructure for the cost-effective deep decarbonisation of at least one industrial cluster; (2) Roadmaps and feasibility studies for net zero industrial clusters; and (3) Sustainable industrial clusters knowledge creation and sharing function.

The aim is to place the UK at the forefront of the global shift to Clean Growth, by driving the technologies, services and markets to produce low carbon industrial products.

The overarching goal of the IDRIC is to deliver long-lasting economic growth and societal benefits, and to build the foundations for the new industrial clusters of tomorrow.

Further information

IDRIC is backed by £20m funding until 2024. The initiative is part of the £170m Industrial Decarbonisation challenge, delivered through the Industrial decarbonisation challenge-UKRI.

The IDRIC is based at Herriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and headed by Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, UKRI’s Industrial Decarbonisation Champion.

Further details at