THE collapse of Teesside steelworks will not derail a bold plan to make the region a world leader in carbon capture, industry leaders said.

Sembcorp Utilities UK, which provides energy and water services to customers at the Wilton International site, near Redcar, has become the latest member of the Teesside Collective project, which hopes to make the region the clean air capital of Europe.

In July, a detailed blueprint was unveiled to help secure funding for an Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) network to be built on Teesside. The initial plan by a group that consists of leading chemicals firms such as Lotte, GrowHow and BOC, supported by regional and national government, aims to cut a quarter of the region’s annual CO2 emissions from 2024.

The team behind the scheme say it would help to boost competitiveness among heavy energy users and safeguard thousands of jobs. The longer term ambition could see 15 million tonnes of CO2 a year stored and 2,600 jobs created across Tees Valley over the next 15 to 20 years.

They are in talks with the Government and hope George Osborne will show his support for carbon capture when he makes his autumn statement on November 25.

The loss of the SSI iron and steelworks in Redcar, previously part of the project, was a major blow to the regional economy and robbed the Collective of a key member. Today’s news demonstrates the group’s determination to move forward, it said.

Scott Taylor, assistant vice president of business development, Sembcorp Utilities UK, said: “We are delighted to increase our commitment to the Teesside Collective by formally joining the consortium. A large scale carbon capture and storage initiative would make a step change in emissions reductions and could act as a magnet to further investment in the area.”

In addition, Teesside Collective has appointed Belinda Perriman as Commercialisation Manager, bringing significant experience of CCS and major project development to the team. She was previously the Shell lead on the Peterhead CCS Project in the early (pre-FEED) stages of the project. She will be working to bring on board other energy intensive plants in Teesside and with government departments and in Europe to secure support to take the project forward.

Ms Perriman said: “Teesside Collective is exactly that, a collective. We welcome Sembcorp as an important new partner in the drive to dramatically reduce emissions from Teesside whist supporting their contribution to the UK economy. We will continue to develop CCS options, both for Teesside and with an eye on encouraging future industrial CCS clusters in the UK.

“I’m looking forward to harnessing the growing support in Teesside and at the national level to realise the project’s significant potential for the UK’s industrial and environmental goals.”

Neil Kenley, Director of Business Investment at Tees Valley Unlimited, said: “Tees Valley has been hit hard by the closure of the SSI plant in Redcar. But it’s great to see Teesside Collective powering ahead with the addition of Sembcorp. The company’s commitment to the area is well known and I hope further plants will follow their example.

“Belinda Perriman’s expertise will strengthen our ability to build the commercial partnerships we need with industry and funders. Her strategic vision and experience of CCS and major projects are going to be invaluable.”

The premise of CCS is that carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and heavy industry can be captured before it enters the atmosphere and stored underground.

Projects across the world are looking at ways to develop viable, cost-effective CCS. Critics say the technology is unproven and not cost effective.