Reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and generate more renewable energy.
Reducing our carbon footprint and increasing our generation of renewable energy is not only good for the environment it’s good for our business too. The less energy we have to buy makes our business more efficient and having our own energy means we have the security of energy right on our doorstep.
Over the last 11 years the trend in our overall emissions has been downwards even though they have fluctuated over the past few years – as they can be affected by weather, operational conditions and the carbon content of the UK's electricity supply. In 2015/16, our carbon footprint totalled 454,857 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, 22% below our 2005/06 baseline.
This year we have reviewed our carbon strategy and set a new challenging target aligned to our investment plans up to 2020. The target is to achieve a 50 per cent reduction on the 2005/06 baseline and to continue to reduce emissions to 60% by 2035.
Our carbon footprint over the last 11 years
We have plans to significantly increase our renewable generation over the next few years, with a target of generating around 35 per cent of our electricity consumption by 2020. Our energy team are working hard to identify suitable projects and sort out all the technical details.
Our renewable energy production in 2015/16 was 138 GWh, representing 17 per cent of our electricity consumption in the year. Most of the energy we generate on site is used to power our works, with some of the excess being put into the national grid. This reduces our energy bill, and allows us to access Government incentives.
We have ambitious plans to go even further with our renewable energy generation. Our first 500kW turbine is now generating power at our Fleetwood treatment works. This facility is also home to one of the biggest solar panel installations in the North West.
During 2015/16 we installed Europe’s first commercial scale floating solar array at Godley, in Manchester. The installation covers an area equivalent to the size of six football pitches, with the 12,000 panels floating upon 30,000 floats. The 3MW solar PV installation at Godley aims to generate 35% of the water treatment works’ annual power requirements, or the equivalent of 800 homes worth of electricity per year. This should contribute to keeping our future energy costs down and benefit water bills – good news for both shareholders and customers.
We have been including our carbon emissions in our annual financial statements for several years. Under mandatory carbon reporting regulations for listed companies, we have included more information on the breakdown of our emissions in our annual report.
Reducing our emissions
The main components of our short term strategy to mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions are;
- Optimising the operation of our assets to reduce energy use, including energy efficiency measures;
- Generating more of our energy needs from renewable sources - increasing generation from sludge and other sources, but only where it is cost effective to do so; and
- Increasing employee awareness such as changing behaviours through training
Our long term, 25 year strategy includes;
- Ensuring enhancements are evidence based – working with our regulators to ensure that new energy intensive assets are only installed where the need is robustly demonstrated
- Researching new technologies
Energy efficiency measures are important but we recognise that there are limits to the extent they can contribute to any mitigation strategy – we need to deploy renewable technologies effectively to fill the gap.
We also recognise that our efforts to reduce energy use, no matter how successful, are set against the backdrop of unavoidable climate change. Improving the resilience of our operations is therefore essential.
We recognise that our mitigation efforts will only be successful if we work with others – any failure to engage our key stakeholders on the critical importance of reducing our emissions and adapting to climate change will undermine our own efforts.
Measuring & reporting our carbon footprint
We’re dedicated to understanding how every aspect of our operations contributes to our carbon footprint. We’re also committed to reporting our impact in the most transparent and robust way possible. We set out the boundary of our footprint and previous year’s performance within our annual report.
Verification and performance
We want our carbon footprint to be as robust and transparent as possible. Since 2007, our greenhouse gas inventory has undergone independent, third-party verification by Achilles Group to meet the specifications of the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS). This includes compliance with the international carbon reporting standard ISO14064, Part 1.
We incorporate recommendations we receive during CEMARS verification audits into our business processes.
We continue to benchmark our performance against several global indices, including CDP, and we share our carbon footprint annually with our regulator Ofwat as part of the water industry-wide regulatory return process.
What is the carbon impact of my water usage?
We think it is really important that our customers are aware of how much water they use, the energy used to heat that water, how much it costs and the environmental impact of using that water. There are some really good reasons for this including helping our customers to reduce the size of their water bill and protecting water supplies, particularly as they come under pressure from the impacts of climate change. By encouraging everyone to use less water we can reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the energy we use in treating and distributing water and customers can reduce their carbon footprint by reducing the amount of water heated in the home.
We’ve teamed up with the Energy Saving Trust so that you can have access to the latest water, energy and money saving calculator on the market.- This calculator offers a detailed report of your family’s water usage in the home and garden and allows you to update your answers instantly so that you can see the impact on the cost if you were to reduce the number of baths a week and switch to showers instead.
You’ll be asked to select your water supplier when you enter the Energy Saving Trust’s calculator. Please use the drop down menu, scroll down to find United Utilities and select us. You can then carry on and see how water you can save by making some simple changes. To calculate your own water and carbon footprint, please visit the website.
What can you do!
Do you leave lights or central heating on when you're not in the house? We all have a part to play in tackling climate change and even the smallest change can help make a difference.
As much as 25 per cent of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions are as a direct result of the energy we use to heat and light our homes.
By being more energy efficient, we can help the environment and reduce emissions.
•Switch off unnecessary lights, don't leave the TV on standby
•Only boil the amount of water you need in the kettle
•Use cooler wash temperatures and full loads in washing machines
•Put aluminium foil behind radiators to reflect heat back into the room
•Stop heat escaping by draught-proofing all doors and windows
•Turn down your thermostat by one degree (or use one hour less heating a day)
•Change to energy efficient light bulbs – they use a quarter the energy of traditional light bulbs
•Cavity wall and loft insulation will help to stop heat loss of up to 35 per cent from escaping
Did you know?
If everyone in the UK turned off household appliances instead of leaving them on standby, the amount of electricity saved could equal the output of a traditional coal-fired power station.