More investment needed in order to reach Net Zero according to new Western Gateway report carried out by GW4 academicsOctober 5, 2022
Further investment is needed across South Wales and Western England in order to reach Net Zero targets according to a new report published by the Western Gateway Partnership.
The report lays bare the gap between the current energy system demands and the green energy infrastructure currently under construction across the area.
National governments and councils across the UK have all announced targets for reducing their carbon output to decarbonise their economies by 2050 or before.
The GW4 Alliance has been working with strategic partner the Western Gateway on a shared vision to help achieve a net zero carbon economy and creating growth. The report maps the current energy system across the Western Gateway area and highlights several options which show that it is well placed to export green energy to the rest of the UK. This includes the potential to produce low carbon hydrogen to store energy and support a hydrogen ecosystem, grow renewable capabilities across the area and the development of Hinkley Point C as a major low carbon energy source.
However, despite this, a large level of additional investment in current infrastructure is still required to decarbonise current energy supply. The area faces a number of hurdles, such as a largely gas-powered domestic heating system and an increasingly high electricity demand as the area transitions to net zero, for example a full transition to electric vehicles would double the area’s current demand for electricity.
The study was carried out by the Supergen Energy Networks (SEN) Hub, a diverse community of more than 600 Industrial, Academic and Early Career Research partners who work to build a deeper understanding of energy networks across the UK, and funded by the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council. The report was unveiled on 3 October by Professor Phil Taylor, Pro Vice Chancellor of Research and Enterprise at the University of Bristol who leads SEN, at a Conservative Party conference fringe event. Professor Taylor was recently appointed by Sir Patrick Vallance to the Government Net Zero Innovation Board and Chairs the Board of the GW4 Universities.
He said: “The UK has legally binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Councils across the UK have also responded to climate change by introducing their own net zero targets.
“By coming together as a wider partnership, the Western Gateway is well positioned to work strategically with energy networks to reach these goals. I hope this report will help public authorities, governments, businesses, investors and researchers to plan and develop a greener future.”
Local authorities from Swansea to Swindon are committed to reaching Net Zero in order to tackle climate change, with ambitious projects planned across South Wales and Western England. As part of the Western Gateway Partnership, they are working together with business and research to call for greater investment and promote the area on a global stage.
Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway Partnership, said: “Our partners are working together through this partnership to tackle climate change head on and are all committed to reaching Net Zero. With leading expertise in fusion energy, advanced manufacturing, and digital industries our area is well placed to be a Green Energy Super Cluster and drive this transition.
“By publishing this report today, we want to help Government and investors to target investment where it is needed most so we can tackle this challenge together. This is only the start of this work. “Building on these findings, we want to develop further evidence to map out a clear route for how our area can lead the way in decarbonising communities across the UK.”
Cllr Toby Savage, Vice Chair of the Western Gateway Partnership and Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said: “As a local authority leader this report is useful in helping to understand the challenges we all face as we try to decarbonise our economies to reach net zero carbon emissions.
“Through the Western Gateway Partnership, South Wales and Western England are working together to find new ways to tackle these challenges. We are promoting investment in hydrogen research, production and use through our Hydrogen Ecosystem and exploring sustainable energy options in the Severn Estuary.
“This study demonstrates the challenges we all face and is a key part of providing the evidence to make sure we can reach our targets.”
Access the report here.
Find out more about the GW4 Accelerating to Net Zero transformational programme.