Policy Impacts

Net zero carbon: lots of talk, now it’s time to act

Posted on 08 July 2020
By Stuart Beasley
Stuart Beasley
Head of Energy Solutions & Generation Services Sales

Stuart and his team look after the strategic energy requirements of large and medium-sized organisations across the private and public sectors. This includes a wide range of energy services and technologies covering asset development and optimisation, energy management and generator Power Purchase Agreements.

It’s clear that businesses will play a key role in enabling the UK’s net zero transition. Encouragingly, even in the current Covid-19 era, we have seen an increase in the number of organisations that are pledging carbon reduction targets.

But the key question is, will they be able to back up these pledges and accomplish their targets?

Many of the businesses we speak to haven’t yet considered the full extent of what will be required. Carbon footprints often aren’t being assessed against science-based targets, nor the necessary journeys fully mapped out to reduce them to net zero.

But we do know that 80% of businesses we recently surveyed agree that ‘maintaining a focus on sustainability and net zero will stand our business in good stead for a quicker recovery post-Covid-19’. (For more on this, see our Building Business Back Greener: The Road to Net Zero report.

Energy efficiency to play a key role

Energy efficiency is likely to continue to be a fundamental step in the process. But over recent years, as markets have developed and converged, there are now considerably more options and pathways to choose from.

For example, reviewing the suitability of renewable technologies, energy storage, demand management and transport optimisation.

Questions will likely arise such as how much will these options cost, what resources are required and who can help? These all need to be answered when developing a carbon strategy.

Net zero by 2030

At npower Business Solutions (nBS), we are working with many companies in the public and private sectors who have publicly declared their ambition to extend mandatory remits to achieve a net zero carbon position by as early as 2030.

These targets are especially admirable during the current climate – but also very achievable if approached in the right way.

The range of options available covers a broad spectrum of available solutions. These include energy efficiency, self-generation and offsetting.

However, not all options will be suitable for all businesses. What works for you will depend on your strategy and wider business goals.

Virtual versus on-site options

For example, Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificate purchasing has attracted controversy, being described by some prominent leaders as ‘green-washing’. But others view it as a relatively low-impact way of achieving carbon goals and financially supporting the renewable generation sector.

We are seeing strong demand for corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), where a customer buys renewable volume direct from one of our large generation customers to net off against their grid-imported demand.

Other companies are keen on pursuing less virtual options. For example, building on-site generation assets that reduce volume imported from the grid. Or tackling site-level energy efficiency to reduce overall demand and emissions.

Energy strategies can also be extended from infrastructure and assets to employees and the human aspects of energy management. For example, by introducing energy education, awareness and behavioural change that further support demand reduction.

Strong business case

From a financial and technological perspective, now’s also potentially a good time for organisations to act, as the business case for investment has improved over recent years.

For example, the cost of implementing infrastructure-based solutions has generally decreased, particularly when combining complimentary technologies such as solar PV and battery storage.

An experienced Demand Side Response (DSR) partner can then help to further enhance return on investment by tapping into a range of revenue schemes.

In a coincidence of timing, we have also recently seen significant increases and greater uncertainty in non-commodity import demand costs, which makes the case for reducing imported volumes even stronger.

As a result, there’s probably never been a better time to invest in on-site generation and energy efficiency.

Steering the right path

But with such broad scope and numerous options, the challenge is to eliminate complexity and decide on the right path for your organisation.

Here at nBS, we believe that it’s important for a business to choose a partner that can offer turnkey partnership solutions, combining carbon management capability with customer-focussed principles.

So if you’d like to find out more, do please get in touch.

You may also like to download a free copy of The Future Report 2020 – The Road to Net Zero for some expert analysis and insight.

With so much focus on net zero, there’s never been a better time to talk – and to act.

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