UK water sector targets renewables and efficiency improvements for net-zero 2030 goal

5th March 2020 | Water

In August, the UK’s nine major water and sewerage providers, including Yorkshire Water, Anglian Water and United Utilities committed to planting 11 million trees in order to improve the natural environment across 6,000 hectares of English land as part of an overarching ambition to become a carbon-neutral sector by 2030. In December, the UK’s major water companies launched the first major project to develop a roadmap that will help the sector achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The sector named Ricardo and Mott MacDonald as the consultancies that will act on behalf of WaterUK and UKWIR to carry out research that will create a practical, step-based approach to the net-zero pledge. The two consultants have now outlined options for water companies to explore to help achieve the sectoral goal.

Net zero

Options include: reducing emissions from wastewater treatment processes by reducing methane releases, improving energy efficiency, increasing self-generated renewables use from solar and anaerobic digestion, procuring renewable electricity, providing biogas to the grid, moving to electric for construction equipment like diggers and rolling out electric and alternative fuel vehicles for fleets.

Water UK Chief Executive, Christine McGourty, said, “The water industry has made an ambitious pledge to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030. It’s a big challenge, but water companies are committed to protecting and enhancing the environment and intend to be part of the solutions to the climate crisis. This new analysis setting out climate-friendly options is an important step forward.”

The water industry has collectively reduced operational emissions by 43% since 011, with companies withing the sector increasing renewable electricity generation by more than 40% in the same timeframe. However, the net-zero goal is reflective of the broader national net-zero ambition for 2050, which in turn is aligned to the Paris Agreement’s pathway to limit global temperature increase to well below 2C.

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