Powerhouse 2050: The North’s Routemap for Productivity, published last week by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), sets out proposals for sectors which, with government funding, could boost the northern economy.
Among these areas, the report says that "there is a real opportunity for the north to establish itself as the nation’s hub for both low-carbon and flexible energy generation".
It says that this would involve "a combination of constructing new renewable projects, such as offshore wind farms in the North and Irish Seas, and repurposing existing power stations that already have access to grid infrastructure and the national rail network".
The report adds that, in addition to generating electricity, "these power station sites can also be utilised for other high-value uses that benefit from their existing infrastructure and connectivity, such as advanced manufacturing".
Among its recommendations, the document calls for the government to invest £2 billion "to transform the entire gas supply to Leeds from natural gas to low-carbon hydrogen produced in the Tees Valley".
It says that the project "would significantly contribute to the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and would be a major step towards a northern green gas network".
Elsewhere, the report calls for the government to invest £1 billion to support the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology.
It says that SMRs are smaller than conventional nuclear reactors, "manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be built, allowing for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency and better nuclear material security".
The creation of a government-backed SMR industry would boost UK manufacturing and help "consolidate the north’s position as a global leader in energy", the report says.