Moving Towards Net Zero
With the recent government stance on Net Zero by 2050 a hot topic in the energy industry at the moment and the associated scepticism that comes with it, there is a need across all sides to appreciate and understand how we actually move towards it. With the 80% decarbonisation by 2050 target, which was agreed upon, now in the dim and distant past we have a new goal, one of Net-Zero. The UK, according to recent reports by The Spectator, are currently 43% below 1990 levels, so we have a very long way to go to achieving the government aim.
The initiative brings about so many questions; is it a bold yet achievable target or simply an unrealistic one? is there a mandate of how we are going to achieve it? Is current legislation such as Climate Change Agreements (CCL) / Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) etc. enough to provide the change we need or is there a need for a more robust form of taxation required?
Maybe an alternative should be that the country is incentivised commercially to reduce our emissions. This could be through the technological deployment of renewables as well as energy-saving measures and/or energy-efficient equipment. Without a doubt, there is a huge amount of investment on both sides required to be able to work towards this ultimate goal.
To date, the UK Government has never looked beyond a five-year plan for anything other than re-election. This target requires a common ground to be established on a cross-party basis to be essentially realistic. That in itself has proven highly problematical in recent times but is required to affect any form of substantial change.
Without a mandate from government or organisation in authority, there is a lot of hypothesizing going on. While this represents healthy discussion, the hard questions are yet to be asked and debated. What is apparent is, if you are in the renewable sector, hold onto your hats because it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the next 20-30 years.
Ok, so we have this target! Now, what next?
Every company is in the same boat but with a different journey and/or timeline. Working towards Net Zero for any company requires them to comprehensively understand their portfolio as well as their supply chain. For the likes of a few of the larger conglomerates, it’s something they’ve been working towards and they have a roadmap to delivering it. Even so, it will still require substantial investment across their portfolio. For others, it’s the start of a journey which will prove trying and will have a substantial impact on their operation.
Without a doubt the cost of power should be a concern, prices fluctuate dramatically these days and if a company has not got their eye on the markets, they risk being caught out financially. What working towards this target will do is provide fiscal benefit to any company. The paybacks on technological deployment may be longer than the current business appetite but if a renewable project with a 3-5 year ROI is implemented, the business model will be more robust. Not only that but the organisations overall worth will be increased accordingly, not to mention the greenhouse gas reduction achieved by implementing the project.
Is there any additional benefits? Of course, implementing the use of renewable projects in every business improves their grid resilience and lowers their demand on the grid. Thus providing greater independence and less reliability on this sole source. Further creating a robust as well as strong company.
What are my options as well as the resulting paybacks and cost?
With the advocacy of Net Zero, it is instantly apparent that there isn’t just one technological solution which will meet a companies needs. In reality, there are a raft of solutions and it is identifying the one which best suits your business model, budget and operational requirement – this applies to all sectors both on a UK and global scale.
All organisations need to realistically review their options, solutions are all scalable and need to be looked at as early as possible. Some projects will be out of scope for different reasons, as a result of business models and budgets, but nothing should be ruled out based on operations. Operational efficiency is critical but reducing emissions is vitally important as well. As the cost of carbon increases so will the fines, already we have seen a Climate Change Levy (CCL) increase to cover the cost of the failure of Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to see a new government increasing the CCL and the cost of carbon, thus ensuring the rewards are high but so are the penalties.
What do we suggest?
Be realistic about what you can achieve and then revisit your plan every 2-3 three years. Every companies business model is different and their approach to Net Zero needs to be consistent and achievable. Maximise your legislative reductions, there are government schemes and auditable measures such as NOVEM (A sustainability methodology which can calculate and measure your performance) which can be useful. They can be applied to improve your performance and eliminate excess charges on carbon.
Look at the 3-5 year projects and what they deliver. Technological projects which save money and energy are great, but projects which improve grid resilience and reduce operational baseloads are even better.
Here at Utility Team, we are actively engaged with our clients on the topic of Energy Efficiency, Net-Zero and green energy in general. We monitor the markets on a daily basis and advise our customers appropriately. We can provide a no-cost renewable study with the intent to create a roadmap for a business as they move towards Net-Zero.
If you’d like to discuss your options please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience:
Article written by: Ian Catchpole, Business Development Manager