Vast investment and an ideal location paired with excellent connectivity and transportation links mean the Humber has become a central hub for business development, and inward investor interest from the UK and overseas.
The Humber manufactures and transports goods worldwide, including renewables and biomass energy, engineering, chemicals, food processing and digital industries, all supported by a diverse and skilled workforce. Other parts of the energy sector include biofuels, energy from waste and energy storage, making the Humber the most prepared region in the UK for the green energy transition.
12 min read
The Humber is becoming a global exemplar of a decarbonised, resource-optimised cluster, supported by clean energy generation. To achieve this, the region is developing transformational industry collaborations and projects.
The Humber Offshore Wind Cluster is home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm, operated by Ørsted. The Siemens Gamesa factory in Hull produces blades for future installations in North Sea off the region’s coast. The cluster continues to attract delegations from across the globe.
Lagoon Hull, a proposed £1.5bn scheme to build a six-mile road in the Humber, will transform Hull's waterfront and provide a new outer harbour and port facilities. A major boost for the city by helping to create 14,000 jobs and add an extra £1bn a year to the region's economy, the project will reduce congestion, increase ports capacity and enhance long-term flood protection. A private sector team led by Alan Wood and Partners has developed the concept from Tim Rix, who heads fuel and logistics group J. R. Rix & Sons.
The £200m Yorkshire Energy Park is a new development with outline planning permission to deliver over 83,000sqm of commercial development space, alongside an energy centre that will provide clean, reliable energy for tenants at up to 20% less than market rates. Creating over 4000 jobs, the development will also include the region’s first 600 rack, tier three data centre and disaster recovery space.
Bilfinger UK is a major player in the Humber’s industrial development, providing services across the oil and gas, energy, nuclear and chemical/pharmaceutical sectors. Bilfinger maintains 125 hydroelectric power plants and 250 dams across Europe.
Yorkshire Water provides clean water and sanitation for over 5m people and has over 62,000 miles of pipework connecting Yorkshire's water systems. The Living with Water project invests in integrated water systems, with global partners and specialists focusing on how to improve flood resilience.
Humber businesses have a passion for the region and its role on the global stage, demonstrated by their backing for The Waterline campaign. The Waterline continues to build a sustainable future in the Humber. Many of these businesses are Principal or Major Partners of the Marketing Humber Bondholder scheme, which is supported by 250+ regional business partners and stakeholders. Bondholders promote the Humber for future prosperity to create new jobs, skills and a low carbon economy.
Renewables & Carbon Capture
The Humber is a world-leading hub for offshore wind and biofuel production. Siemens Gamesa is one of Hull’s biggest inward investments, and the world’s biggest offshore wind farm developer Ørsted has invested over £7bn in offshore wind farms off the Humber coast.
Europe’s largest decarbonisation project is based here – Drax power station. Drax provides 12% of Britain’s renewable power, supplying 9m homes and contributing £431m to the regional economy. Drax is driving a zero-carbon, low cost energy future and is rolling out revolutionary technologies to provide its customers with greater control of their energy use. Drax, Equinor , National Grid and SSE Thermal are creating the world’s first net-zero industrial cluster in the Humber.
This will be combined with an ambitious project to turn Drax Power Station carbon negative through Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage. When deployed, this will store 16m tonnes of carbon a year. Drax will be the first carbon-negative power station in the world and the anchor for a zero-carbon cluster across the north. Drax continues to expand operations to include hydro power, storage and natural gas while removing coal from the energy mix.
Centrica Storage Ltd (CSL), a subsidiary of Centrica PLC, operates the Rough North Sea gas storage facility and the Easington onshore gas processing terminal. This provides 20% of peak daily gas supply in winter and 70% of the UK's gas storage capacity.
SSE, one of the UK’s leading low-carbon energy companies, is developing the Keadby Clean Power hub in North Lincolnshire, using carbon capture and hydrogen solutions to decarbonise its gas-fired power generation. The company also operates the nearby Keadby Wind Farm, which is the largest onshore wind farm in England, and is also co-developing Dogger Bank, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, off the East Coast. Meanwhile, in East Yorkshire, SSE operates two of the UK’s largest gas storage facilities, which have the potential to store low-carbon hydrogen into the future.
Using combined heat and power to deliver decarbonised energy
VPI Immingham is working to deliver a zero-carbon industrial cluster, integrating established industry with new technology to create a platform for decarbonised growth. VPI has a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant on the south bank of the Humber, which can generate around 2.5% of UK peak electricity demand and up to 930 tonnes of steam per hour, which is used by nearby oil refineries. It is one of the largest, cleanest and most efficient power plants in Europe, saving up to 2.5m tonnes of CO2 per year - the emissions of a million cars.
The Humber has the UK’s second largest chemical cluster, with strategically important national assets including two refineries. The Phillips 66 Humber Refinery and Total Lindsey Oil Refinery have a combined capacity of over 22m tonnes per year. Phillips 66 is the UK’s only petroleum coke producing refinery and is known worldwide for its expertise in high-grade petroleum coke upgrading and sulphur removal. Phillips 66 is increasing its R&D in technologies that complement its existing businesses, alongside alternative and renewable energy sources such as battery technology.
Saltend Chemicals Park, owned and operated by px group, hosts world-class chemicals and renewable energy businesses including BP, Nippon Gohsei, Tricoya, Air Products, Yara and Ineos. The site produces more than a million tonnes of chemicals per year and has recently seen £500m of investment.
UK’s Trading Gateway
The Humber estuary offers unrivalled access to northern UK markets and is the gateway to Asia, the Americas and beyond, through the northern industrial corridor.
The Humber handles 77m tonnes of cargo worth over £75bn each year and is the UK’s busiest trading complex. 2019 saw over 32,000 ship movements. Associated British Ports’ (ABP) sites in Grimsby and Immingham form the largest trading gateway in the UK. ABP has invested heavily across the Humber to support the shift in trade volumes, with cargoes originally destined for southern ports moving north due to increased regional distribution centres across the M1/M62 corridor, which look to the Humber as a gateway.
In addition to the £150m Green Port Hull investment (a joint venture between ABP and Siemens to develop a renewable energy hub with world-class offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing), ABP spent £150m on Immingham Renewable Fuels Terminal, supplying biomass to Drax power station. In March 2020 the Humber welcomed the largest ever biomass shipment. ABP, alongside Drax, unloaded 63,907 tonnes – enough to generate electricity for 1.3m homes.
The Humber is home to more than 2,500 food and drink businesses, employing 35,000+ and contributing over £2bn to the UK economy. Grimsby is Europe’s ‘food town’ and has seen huge investment from the industry’s biggest names. The Humber is driving innovation in the sector, with leading brands such as Young’s Seafood, Aunt Bessie’s, AAK, Cranswick and McCain. Agribusiness plays a major role. With an increase in organic and biodynamic produce, we continue to champion the farm to fork initiative.
Further key businesses in the sector include Cranswick PLC, which supplies quality British pork worldwide, and AAK International, the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of edible oils, fats and speciality ingredients to the food industry.
The Humber has a thriving tech scene with a wealth of expertise. We are connected to the fastest broadband in the UK thanks to KCOM, which has invested £85m into a future-proof full-fibre broadband network as a platform for business growth and innovation.
The £15m purpose-built C4DI is the region’s tech hub and home to creative and digital businesses including innovation consultants Edenic Group. Edenic specialises in disruptive thinking for brands, organisations and project teams. Pace, an award-winning strategic communications company are also based at C4DI. The One Point, a single-source supplier of IT and Telecommunication Services has headquarters at the growing Bridgehead Business Park in Hessle.
Manufacturing & Engineering
Manufacturing employs over 80,000 people in the Humber with 22% of the region’s employment in the sector – above the national average.
Many Humber manufacturers are diversifying into renewable energy. Singleton Birch, the UK’s leading independent lime supplier, has formed subsidiary companies Birch Energy and Birch Solutions, both specialising in renewables. Birch Energy has three anaerobic digesters which generate enough gas to fuel Singleton Birch, with further projects in the pipeline. Birch Solutions maintain and service these plants along with offering full operations and maintenance to AD and water utilities industries nationwide.
Siemens Mobility is investing £200m in a new train manufacturing facility in Goole, East Yorkshire. The 592,000sqft factory by junction 36 of the M62 will see around 700 staff working on the production of a new generation of trains for the London Underground’s Picadilly Line under a £1.5bn contract. Subject to order income, a further proposed phase could enable expansion to service potential future contracts awarded to Siemens. The business is also bidding to provide rolling stock to HS2.
80% of the UK’s holiday homes manufactured within the region by Willerby Ltd and others. The Humber is also home to visionary manufacturers such as G.F Smith, one of the UK’s most successful paper brands. The company trades worldwide, exporting to over 60 countries.
We are home to global healthcare leaders Reckitt and Smith+Nephew. The FTSE 100 companies, alongside pioneering healthcare at the University of Hull, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Hull York Medical School and City Healthcare Partnerships demonstrate a high concentration of expertise. These organisations strive to increase their skilled-professional base, seeking those with ambition, initiative and commercial aptitude. Also based here is Ansell (UK), a PPE giant leading the provision of safety solutions for industry and healthcare, researching and developing state-of-the art safety and PPE to reduce or eliminate occupational disease.
The Humber has an array of professional service companies vital to supporting key sectors. Regional legal giants Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP and Rollits LLP provide full legal expertise to help clients succeed and grow. Large chartered accountancy firms Forrester Boyd and Smailes Goldie Group are committed to providing support extending beyond traditional accounting and tax compliance. Hull-based Marsh Commercial is one of the country’s fastest growing commercial insurance brokers. A business with global backing and a local focus, it is now one of the UK’s biggest insurance brokers.