Last week the Prime Minister announced that the UK would become the first major world economy to put in place legislation to commit to being carbon neutral by 2050. In announcing the policy, Theresa May went on to say that she wants to “leave the environment in a better state for the next generation”. This is a laudable goal, and one which I welcome and share. But, it is also an ambitious one, and one that will require real action if we are to achieve it.
In order to reach the 2050 goal, we will need to look again at the sources of carbon emissions and look again at the potential solutions. We are seeing more and more electric vehicles coming onto our roads, but what about vans, HGVs, trains and those other hard to tackle sectors? We are seeing more and more renewable electrical generation, but how will we cope with increased demand on the grid? And, perhaps the biggest challenged of them all – how will we decarbonise heating, whilst ensuring that we can still heat our homes when we want?
At Cadent, we are well aware of the challenge of decarbonisation, and this is something which we have been working on for some time now. Over the last 15 years, we have reduced our carbon emissions by 80%, but we recognise that we need to challenge ourselves if we are to become a carbon neutral business and if we are to help the UK to reach this 2050 goal.
On transport, we are working with partners to help clean up some of those hard to tackle sectors. We are supporting the creation of bio-CNG refuelling infrastructure across the UK – enabling fleet operators, such as John Lewis, to move away from diesel HGVs and to cleaner alternatives, radically cutting their carbon emissions. Indeed, we are also investing in our own CNG powered fleet – putting our money where our mouth is, and cutting our own emissions. We are working with councils and companies across the country to help offer alternatives to dirty diesel, both for businesses and for everyday road users. But we are also looking to the future, we are looking at how we can support the uptake of hydrogen cars and trains across the country to ensure that we help the UK to achieve this 2050 vision. Indeed, I was delighted to launch our HyMotion report
, on how we can support the uptake of hydrogen transport, last week in Runcorn alongside Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram.
On heat, we are already putting cleaner and greener gas into our network, turning highly polluting black bin bag waste into gas that can then be used in the grid. And, our hydrogen projects are demonstrating the potential future role that hydrogen can play. HyDeploy
, at the University of Keele, will soon be operational and will demonstrate that we can put up to 20% hydrogen into the gas network without requiring any changes to homes or behaviours, but helping to reduce emissions even further. And our work on HyNet
in the North West is helping to drive forward a vision for a hydrogen economy, which combined with Carbon Capture Storage, will achieve this ambition of being carbon neutral.
At Cadent, we are doing some amazing work to help the UK to decarbonise, but in order to allow these projects to take-off and thrive, we need the Government to put in place the right policy framework. This might mean ensuring that alternative fuels, such as CNG and hydrogen remain cheaper than traditional petrol and diesel. It might mean changing regulations to allow hydrogen blends to be delivered through our network. Or, it might mean enabling Ofgem to reward innovation projects, ensuring these continue to push boundaries. Now that the Government have legislated to ensure the UK is carbon neutral by 2050, now is the time to also put in place the policies to enable this.