UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference – In Conversation with Bryony Livesey (ECR Meeting Fund)

Mohsen Lotfi (Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, Teesside University), Hassan Chamas (Brunel University London) and Aylin Kemal (Cranfield University) share their takeaways from the “In Conversation with Bryony Livesey” session at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

Jon Gibbins (UKCCSRC) and Bryony Livesey (IDC, UKRI) engaged in a comprehensive discussion regarding the UK’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge (IDC). They explored how it started, the challenges that came through along the way and the achievements. Their discussion highlighted the importance of developing low-carbon technologies and infrastructure. They emphasized that the initiative is not only about environmental sustainability, but also about enhancing industry competitiveness whilst simultaneously reducing emissions.

With the UK’s commitment to global leadership in clean technology and climate change mitigation, discussions revolve around the progression of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and the creation of low-carbon industrial clusters by 2030. The overarching goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. Emphasis has been placed on the pivotal role of industry collaboration and innovation in facilitating the shift towards cleaner energy infrastructure. These deliberations can be traced back to December 2018, when the UK pledged £170 million to establish low-carbon clusters integrating advanced technologies such as CCS.

Bryony, reflecting on her involvement, described joining the initiative in July 2019, six months after the challenge’s announcement on a temporary basis, tasked with delivering the challenge, and presenting evolving proposals and structural limitations.

She swiftly identified the need to restructure the approach, advocating for parallel cluster development rather than sequential progression. This marked a departure from the initial single project focus and required high levels of planning and stakeholder engagement.

Bryony’s strategic vision extended beyond structural adjustments, to include a holistic approach to project management. She emphasized the need for constantly adapting to industry dynamics by recognizing the evolving technological developments and market demands. Her advocacy for the development of multiple clusters reflected a high-level understanding of scalability and resource optimization, aiming to long-term sustainability.

Furthermore, Bryony’s implementation of a two-stage competition process showcased her strategic ability to foster collaboration and innovation. By aligning project objectives with industry needs, she developed an environment for diverse stakeholders to contribute meaningfully to the challenge’s objectives. This approach not only enhanced project viability but also promoted knowledge sharing and skill development among participants, further enriching the collaborative ecosystem.

Despite initial skepticism, all proposed projects were implemented, demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability of the program. Bryony attributed this success to rigorous evaluation and strategic negotiation, including securing additional funding from the Treasury.

The conversation went deeply into the complexities of various projects within the IDC, highlighting the critical importance placed on infrastructure development, particularly in fields like CCS and hydrogen energy. Bryony’s description of the program’s collaborative values highlighted the significant role of knowledge sharing and skill enhancement within interconnected communities, emphasizing a collective effort towards sustainable solutions.

As the discussion progressed, Bryony expressed a forward-looking perspective, emphasizing the need to recognize successes and smoothly transition ownership of initiatives to industry stakeholders. Jon echoed this sentiment, praising Bryony’s outstanding leadership and dedication, recognizing her crucial contribution to the success of the IDC.

In essence, the conversation outlined a comprehensive review of the UK’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, summarising the obstacles and the accomplishments in the journey. Bryony’s strategic perspective and collaborations were the driving force behind the program’s ability to navigate complexities and yield tangible results, thereby setting a great example for effective industrial decarbonization initiatives on a global scale.