Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT April 2020

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 38 of 47

The Knowledge www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | APRIL 2020 | 39 Reaching net carbon zero In summer 2019, the water industry committed to reach net carbon zero by 2030. This is a very ambitious aim and demonstrates a high level of agreement across the water and waste companies on ambition and direction. As part of WWT's Journey to Net Zero content series, Howard Perry - energy manager at Severn Trent - looks at the sector's journey so far. A few other organi- sations like Sky and the Church of England have followed suit with similar 2030 aims, but it is hard to imagine companies in many other large sectors com- ing together to agree on such a bold aim. Several water companies have gone even further with their individual commit- ments on climate change. For example, Severn Trent recently committed to setting more stringent, science-based carbon targets and has added commitments to the electrifica- tion of transport and sourcing of renewable energy by 2030. Why does the water sector appear more ambitious in this area? Does the aim build on a credible track record of improvement? And can it be achieved? Reasons to care There are many reasons why water companies are more interested in climate change than others may be. They are long-term, environmentally- grounded businesses which are closely-regulated and provide essential services to all of society. Water and waste networks are complex and this means the dangers of even small changes in weather pat- terns are intuitively under- stood by many in the sector. The aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent truly catastrophic shi‚s in weather patterns has been understood and sup- ported for well over a decade. Water companies are also required to plan further ahead than most. The 25-year water resource management plans, which describe how water supply and demand may be affected by changing climate, are the most well- known example of this. Every water company has also been through two rounds of climate change risk assessments and adaptation reports within the last 10 years. These highlight a long list of serious risks faced by the sector in a world of major temperature rises and present a compelling case for action, difficult to ignore. The sector has also long recognised the potential benefits of renewable energy thanks to the widespread deployment of sludge treat- ment technologies yielding biogas. Wastewater companies expanded renewable energy activity quickly in response to government climate change policies since the early 2000s. As a result, renewable energy generation in the sector has grown to around 1.8 terawatt hours per year, doubling over the last decade. This growing renewable energy portfolio means the benefits of lower carbon sources of energy are supported by senior leader- JOURNEY TO NET ZERO

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