Climate change poses a real and formidable threat to the whole planet, and significant change is required to avoid catastrophic, world-changing events. A popular discussion for many years; however, scientists are now warning we are reaching a critical juncture in reversing the effects, which could transform the landscape of the UK and the world. Such circumstances are driving initiatives like the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to take drastic action, and, fortunately, many Governmental bodies and private organisations are getting on board, with global companies like PepsiCo recently announcing a target for 100% renewable electricity globally, and Microsoft preparing to go beyond ‘Net Zero carbon’ by as soon as 2030.
Similarly, the UK Government has set its Net Zero target for 2050, alongside planning to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030 to force the transport industry (the biggest carbon emitting sector in the UK) towards electrification.
Now, in the current context of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the UK Government has ambitions to seize the opportunity and launch a green recovery plan to accelerate efforts in the fight against climate change.
However, this leaves a huge task for UK businesses to achieve Net Zero carbon, a daunting and particularly intimidating task for those without the vast global resources that large corporations, such as Microsoft, have access to.
The challenges for businesses aiming for Net Zero Carbon
When thinking about the challenges that businesses face on their journey to Net Zero, most likely you will think of the financial implications. A comprehensive and long-term plan to Net Zero will be expensive, and often require significant capital investment or a robust funding model. The larger the company and its operations, the more money will likely be required.
However, a survey conducted by Mitie, with representatives from over 500 businesses across multiple sectors, found that the first challenge comes long before this stage; planning the strategy. The main reason for this, according to the findings, is a lack of ‘in-house expertise’ and resources leading to overly-ambitious targets (some aiming for as early as 2025), and an inability to plan an achievable route to Net Zero.
Carving the Path to Net Zero Carbon
Considering the aforementioned ‘lack of expertise’, the first step to developing a strategy to Net Zero is education. By educating staff, gathering the appropriate resources, and seeking expert advice, businesses can create the foundations on which to build their carbon targets and objectives, enabling them to set specific, time-bound, and achievable objectives to confidently work towards.
Once these objectives are defined the business must consider how its Net Zero plan will be funded. For many companies, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as dipping into the cash reserve, and it’s highly likely that some of the activities or projects undertaken on the path to Net Zero will provide little-to-no financial return, particularly when looking at decarbonising the supply chain, which can often eat into profit margins. On the other hand, some projects can provide an attractive ROI and save you a lot of money in the long run, such as energy consumption reducing projects like voltage optimisation.
The easiest way to fund a Net Zero strategy is through a phased approach, and this could include many different funding options for the differing projects that make up the strategy as a whole. For example, a switch to renewable energy could simply involve purchasing energy from a 100% renewable energy provider. Or, if your business has the space available, you may consider purchasing your own on-site generation through solar PV and wind turbines with capital expenditure, with an acceptable payback period from the reduced costs of energy ultimately paying for the project.
Alternatively, your business could reap the benefits of various funding solutions, such as revenue sharing agreements or power purchase agreements (PPAs) to reduce or eliminate upfront capital cost on applicable projects.
With so many funding options available, it’s important that businesses do their research to find the right solutions for them, enabling them to achieve their Net Zero goals on-time, and in an affordable manner.
From Talking the Talk, to Walking the Walk
Once a Net Zero strategy and funding plan are in place, businesses must stick to it. This will often be a long, phased approach entailing various significant changes to the business’s operations along the way.
Additionally, for a full Net Zero strategy to be successful, stakeholder and employee buy-in is required to ensure new processes are followed and championed throughout the business. This could mean a complete shift in the company’s culture and will take some time, but without it, achieving Net Zero will be considerably more difficult.
Starting the Journey to Net Zero Carbon
If your business, like many others, is concerned with being overwhelmed by the task of reaching Net Zero, Powerstar can help your business plan its journey. If lack of expertise is holding your plans back, our energy industry experts and R&D focused culture means we can assist in the planning of a long-term strategy to reduce carbon substantially.
Alternatively, if your business is already implementing a strategy, we can assist in accelerating those plans with our innovative, bespoke smart energy technologies, including our VIRTUE battery energy storage and comprehensive Energy Optimisation System (EOS) to ensure you have maximum control over your energy and associated assets.
15 December 2020