Glass Futures, an innovative research and technology centre that will help decarbonise the global glass industry, has officially opened in St Helens.
The £54m Glass Futures Global Centre of Excellence will feature a unique experimental furnace and other technology that will pioneer ways of making carbon neutral glass. Learning from the facility could help decarbonise other energy-intensive industries.
The project has been backed with a £9m investment from the Combined Authority.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“Building on St Helens’ proud legacy in the glassmaking industry, Glass Futures will help retain the borough’s position as a global centre of excellence. I’m proud that we’ve been able to help make it happen with £9m of city region funding.
“I have supported Glass Futures right from the very start, not just because it’s a great project but because it ticks so many boxes for us: decarbonisation of industry, clean energy, new well-paid jobs in a scheme that will make us a world leader.
“If we are to hit our ambitious targets to be net zero carbon by 2040 at the latest, at least a decade ahead of national targets, then we will need transformative projects like this to help us – and the planet – get there.”
Speaking at the opening event, Richard Katz, CEO of Glass Futures, said:
“Removing carbon emissions from global manufacturing is our world’s greatest challenge, and we need to change how we do things.
“The glass industry and the wider foundation industries (ceramics, steel, metal, chemicals, paper, and cement) need to decarbonise, to use energy sustainably and move away from natural gas as their main energy source.
“That’s why we exist and it’s thanks to the ongoing support of our founders, members, funders and supporters that we’re standing here today – but this really is just the start.”
The official opening event, attended by over 100 guests, brought together Glass Futures members from around the world including glass manufacturers and university academics with funders and local politicians.
Guests were able to enjoy a lunch prepared by students at St Helens College then tour the new facility and see where the 30-tonne-per-day furnace will be installed ahead of its first firing planned for early 2024.