Bryt Insight September 2021
With the publication of the IPCC report last month, we’ve been presented with the stark reality of the climate crisis and the consequences we could face if we don’t take action. It doesn’t make for comfortable reading - but at Bryt Energy, we see it as a real call to action for all of us to do more to reduce our impact on the environment.
Moving in the right direction, the UK has smashed records for renewable energy generation and grid flexibility and encouragingly, the government has released an ambitious Hydrogen Strategy.
Here’s what you need to know...
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its Sixth Assessment Report, the latest in a series of reports which provide insight into scientists’ current understanding of the climate system and climate change. The report makes it clear that if we don’t take rapid action to halve our emissions and reverse nature loss by 2030, we are at risk of extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding as a result of uncontrolled climate change. For example, agricultural and ecological droughts are likely to occur twice in every ten years if we can limit global warming to 1.5°C, but if the global temperature rises by 4°C then we’re likely to see around four droughts in every 10-year period. Concerningly, many of the impacts of the climate crisis we’re experiencing today cannot be reversed.
However, there is still plenty we can do to limit the impact of climate change. According to the IPCC, if we achieve strong and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we could improve our air quality relatively quickly, and global temperatures could stabilise within 20-30 years. It is still within our reach to limit global warming to below 1.5-2°C, but we will all need to take action to achieve this. As the IPCC’s Co-Chair of Working Group 1, Valerie Masson-Delmotte, states, “This report is a reality check. We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done and how we can prepare.”
Crucially, the report emphasises that we will need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and increase our use of renewable energy swiftly. We will also need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible using clean technologies and remove any unavoidable emissions using carbon capture and storage.
If you're a customer of ours, you’re already supporting one of the report’s key recommendations - to rapidly move to using renewable energy to power the global economy. But if the IPCC’s report has motivated you to take further action to improve your organisation’s sustainability efforts, then you may wish to explore how you can become more flexible in your electricity usage. By providing flexibility to the grid, you can help to support the transition to renewable energy. To find out how we can help you to embrace your flexibility, click here.
The government recently released its Hydrogen Strategy, which Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claims ‘marks the start of the UK’s hydrogen revolution’. The strategy outlines how it will meet its ambitious target of 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. As the UK’s hydrogen capacity is currently very low, this strategy will be crucial to ensuring that we can reach this goal.
Hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonising the way we heat our homes and businesses, particularly within ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors, such as heavy industry. The strategy highlights that hydrogen could help energy-intensive industries like chemicals and oil refineries, as well as heavy transport like HGV lorries, boats and trains, by helping these sectors to move away from fossil fuels.
At Bryt Energy, we’ve been aware of the potential for hydrogen to transform these areas for some time. Our parent company, Statkraft, is working to become the leading hydrogen producer in Norway and Sweden and has recently been awarded a contract for the delivery of green hydrogen to the world’s first hydrogen-powered cargo ship.
By 2050, the government believes that 20-35% of the UK’s energy consumption could be hydrogen-based. One of the ways that they intend to reach this level of capacity and consumption is by establishing a hydrogen business model built on a similar premise to the offshore wind Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. The proposed scheme, which is currently under consultation, would incentivise investment in hydrogen capacity by providing developers a pre-agreed ‘strike price’ for the gas they provide. The government is also consulting on the design of a £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, which will support the deployment of low carbon hydrogen production plants across the UK.
If these measures are successful, the government believes that we could create a UK hydrogen economy worth £900 million and over 9,000 skilled green jobs by 2030. Crucially, we could also achieve emissions reductions equivalent to the carbon captured by 700 million trees by 2032.
It’s therefore likely that hydrogen will play an increasingly important role in powering businesses’ operations over the next decade and beyond. Click here to find out more about the Hydrogen Strategy and have your say in the government consultations.
Two recent record-breaking events have shown that the UK is moving in the right direction when it comes to decarbonising the grid.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently published its latest Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES), which shows that renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels for the first time. Renewables accounted for 43.1% of UK power generation in 2020, and all renewable technologies increased their share of generation last year. Wind provided the largest proportion of renewable power, at 24% of total power generation in 2020. Overall, renewable energy generation increased by 12.6% compared to 2019, which is an encouraging sign that we are switching to renewable energy at a growing pace.
This year, Britain has already broken the annual grid flexibility record, another major milestone as we move towards a low carbon grid. Data from the Energy Networks Association (ENA) has shown that since the start of 2021, the grid has secured 1.6GW of additional grid flexibility capacity - a 45% increase on the 1.1.GW secured through the whole of 2020. This capacity is the equivalent of connecting 32,000 rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers to the grid. It’s excellent news, as we will need extensive flexible capacity in order to support our transition to a renewable energy future.
A recent survey of over 1,000 UK SMEs has revealed that the vast majority (almost 90%) of small and medium-sized businesses are not measuring their organisation’s carbon footprint. Just 11% of SMEs said that their company is measuring its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually or more regularly, compared to around 26% of businesses with 50 or more employees.
The most common reason SMEs gave for not measuring their emissions was the cost associated with doing so, but the survey also revealed a lack of in-house expertise around carbon reduction. Almost a quarter (22%) of SMEs said that none of their team members fully understand the meaning of ‘net zero’, for example. Despite the difficulties they are having in measuring their emissions, many SMEs are taking action to reduce them. Over half of those surveyed said that they are planning to improve resource efficiency over the next year, while 47% said they are planning to reduce travel and 40% are planning to reduce their energy consumption across their sites.
It’s vital for SMEs to reduce their emissions, because they account for around 99% of the UK’s businesses, so their actions will be crucial to ensuring that the UK can meet its net zero emissions by 2050 goal. So it’s great to see that many are putting carbon reduction plans in place – but it’s also important for SMEs to be able to measure their carbon footprints, so that they can see how the decarbonisation steps they’re implementing are impacting their overall emissions.
If your small or medium-sized business is one of the many that is struggling to measure its carbon emissions, you can access Government guidance on how to get started here.
Talk to our team
If you have any questions about the changes discussed above or how they might affect your business, our team of experts is on hand to answer them. Simply call us on 0121 726 7575 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.