Up to 11 energy policy experts at Sussex University will work with a new research and innovation centre aimed at helping factories and power plants switch to “clean” technology.
And one of them, Benjamin Sovacool, will be a co-director of the organisation, the Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC).
Professor Sovacool will also lead three key research topics as the government looks for ways to cut greenhouse gases and “decarbonise” the economy as part of a “green revolution”.
IDRIC has been awarded £20 million by a government agency, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), as Britain looks to become “carbon-neutral”.
The new research and innovation centre will be expected to work closely with the Britain’s biggest industrial clusters to address the challenges of decarbonisation.
And, alongside more than 140 partners, IDRIC will be part of a drive to create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial cluster by 2040 and four low-carbon clusters by 2030.
Professor Sovacool, professor of energy policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School and director of the Sussex Energy Group, said: “Decarbonising industry is absolutely central to limiting the impact of climate change but there are no simple solutions. It is one of the hardest energy policy nuts to crack.
“This new interdisciplinary centre will be key to addressing that critical challenge with an ambitious vision to become a leading research programme that is truly one of the best in the world but one that is also instrumental in aiding industry to take the steps necessary towards a net zero future.”
Jeremy Kent Hall, professor of innovation studies and director of the SPRU, said: “SPRU’s world-renowned, interdisciplinary research has helped managers and policy-makers to address real-world problems for over half a century.
“The ambition and urgency of IDRIC’s remit is very much a continuation of that tradition.
“This is vitally important work that will hopefully prove to be of tremendous benefit to UK industry but also help to establish a decarbonisation template for the world to follow and act upon.”
Professor Steven McGuire, dean of the Business School, said: “I’m delighted that University of Sussex Business School academics will play such a prominent role in this centre which goes to the very heart of the UK’s net zero ambitions.
“The world needs urgent action on decarbonisation if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change in the future and I’m confident that the work of our academics will set the right path for meeting the enormity of the challenge ahead.”
IDRIC is expected to gather evidence to help understand the financial costs and emissions involved with different technologies as well as the skills and jobs required.
Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We are determined to tackle climate change and make it win-win for both our planet and our economy.
“Today’s major cash boost – targeted at our most polluting industries – will encourage the rapid development of the technologies we need to rein in our emissions and transition to a green economy, one that reduces costs for business, boosts investment and create jobs.”