Water UK unveils plan to reach 2030 net zero target

Article by Amanda Doyle

FOLLOWING its announcement earlier this year that it was setting a target to be net zero by 2030, UK Water has published the details of its plan to reach that goal.

Water UK – a trade body that represents more than 25 water and wastewater companies – announced in March that it would be developing plans to reach net zero emissions in the water sector by 2030. Water companies produce around a third of industrial and waste process emission in the UK. Emissions have already been reduced by 43% in the sector since 2011, and renewable energy generation increased by 40% over the same period.

It has now published its Net Zero 2030 Routemap which outlines a 10-point plan for decarbonisation by 2030. This includes producing biomethane from sewage waste which can then be injected into the gas grid, developing up to 3 GW of new solar and wind capacity which will meet 80% of the sector’s electricity demands, restoring 20,000 ha of peatland and grassland, and electrification and alternate fuel use for passenger and commercial vehicles. Through these initiatives the sector aims to reduce its emissions by 10m t.

It is expected to cost £2bn–4bn (US$2.7bn–5.3bn) based on currently available technology and known costs. Final costs will be determined by government policies, the plans of individual water companies, and other sectors such as energy.

Christine McGourty, Chief Executive of Water UK said: “This Routemap is a crucial step forward in setting out the industry’s vision for tackling climate change as we work towards a green and resilient recovery for society, the economy and the environment.

“We don’t have all the answers, and we can’t do it alone. But with the support of government, regulators and the supply chain, we believe we can deliver a net zero water supply for customers that also helps build the green skills and solutions needed to protect the environment for generations to come.”

Liz Barber, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Water, said: “Climate change has a profound impact on public water supplies and the way in which we manage the impact of waste on the environment. In Yorkshire over the last few years, extreme weather events have cost over £200m, from managing flooding through to prolonged periods of dry weather. It is only right therefore that water companies should be at the forefront of efforts to reach net zero but we need support from government and regulators to allow us to invest at the levels which will be necessary.”

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Anglian Water said: “Setting ambitious and challenging targets allows us to disrupt established practices in the bid to reach our goal. The time is now for collaborative innovation and investment in the infrastructure, technology and equipment we need for a resilient and secure future, for our country and for our planet.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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