Western Power Distribution (WPD) has outlined plans to reach net-zero emissions for its operations by 2028, as part of a new environment strategy that aims to convert its commercial fleet to low-carbon vehicles in the same timeframe.
WPD, which oversees the Midlands, South West and Wales, will set science-based targets aligned to the 1.5C limit of the Paris Agreement to plot the trajectory to net-zero emissions. The company will aim to verify these targets once set.
The new environment strategy builds on a commitment to sign up to the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) Business Ambition for 1.5C. It also details the need to limit the climate impact from its activities, rather than just operations, and understand the “extent and scope of embodied carbon emissions”. A methodology will be developed to measure and reduce these emissions.
The new strategy also includes targets to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2028 – excluding hazardous waste – and deliver a 30% reduction in the tonnage of waste reduced. Up to 50km of overhead lines in Areas of Outstanding Beauty will also be removed.
WPD’s environment manager Jill Russell commented: “We have listened to our stakeholders so lowering our own carbon emissions and minimising the impact of our own operations on the environment is of paramount importance.
“We face a time of exciting change within the energy sector, with energy use and technology changing rapidly. We are determined to drive the change and not adapt to it. Our plans will help us facilitate a swift roll out of electric vehicles (EVs), which is a key step in decarbonising transport across the UK.”
The organisation has delivered a 24% reduction in operational carbon emissions since 2015 and a 48% reduction in building energy usage.
The new strategy aims to build on this progress and focuses heavily on the decarbonisation of transport. WPD will convert 89% of its commercial van fleet to low-carbon alternatives, such as EVs, by 2028. It builds on a recent announcement that WPD would invest £60m to support the increase of EV chargers, domestic heat pumps and further green development schemes across its region.
WPD has been one of the pioneers of integrating EVs with flexible energy services. According to a recent study from the organisation alongside a consortium experts including Nissan, Energy Systems Catapult, Cenex, Element Energy and Moixa, connecting EVs to the grid at scale could cut £270m a year off the cost of running the UK power system by 2030.
The distributor has also worked with Centrica, National Grid ESO, Exeter University and Imperial College London, with additional support from the Belgian-based advanced energy analytics consultancy N-Side, to trial “flexible” local energy markets. Over the last three years, the £16.7m Cornwall Local Energy Market saw 310MWh of power traded successfully, with greenhouse gas savings of nearly 10,000 tonnes a year as a result.
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