Food and drink industry unable to meet net-zero without policy support for renewables and hydrogen
10th June 2020 | Commercial Energy
The UK’s food and drink manufacturing sector will be able to slash emissions by almost two-thirds by 2050, against a 2012 baseline, but will require further action and ambition from government if it is to go further and align with the national net-zero goal. That is according to the latest research from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents more than 300 companies across the national sector. This headline prediction factors in the fact that the sector, one of the nation’s largest employers, is currently growing at about 1% annually.
The report notes that Scope 2 (power-related) emissions account for the majority of the sector’s carbon footprint, with 97% of its direct footprint attributable to natural gas and the majority of the remaining 3% accounted for by electricity. Of the natural gas sourced by the sector between 2012 and 2020, 80% was used in boilers and direct-fired ovens.
While the bulk of these issues will be tackled by the decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity and gas networks, provided that policy and business action proceeds as forecasted, the FDF is warning that key barriers remain to abating the remaining emissions in line with the UK’s long-term climate targets and in a cost-effective manner.
The UK Government has notably already developed a decarbonisation and energy efficiency roadmap for the food and drink manufacturing sector, outlining time-bound actions to be taken in regards to heat electrification, biomass and heat recovery. However, as the roadmap was published in 2015, it is aligned with the nation’s previous climate target of an 80% reduction in net emissions by 2050, against a 1990 baseline.
Moreover, the UK Government has not yet begun work to develop a low-carbon heat strategy, despite the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendation that such a framework should be launched by 2021 at the latest. It has, however, outlined it intentions to replace the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) with a new Clean Heat Grant for businesses and households.
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