Guest Blog: Mark Westwood – Turning up the heat with greener gas

Heat currently accounts for 45% of the UK’s energy demand, most of which is fuelled by natural gas

The climate crisis has shot to the top of the public agenda in 2019 and net zero targets passing into law has placed the topic even higher on the list of business priorities.

Although detailed policies to determine how the UK accelerates towards that goal are still in development, many businesses wish to take immediate action, playing their part by driving down emissions across their energy, transport and heating.

The decarbonisation of electricity is well underway, thanks to great strides taken in the power sector to provide reliable, affordable renewable electricity. Large industrial and commercial electricity users are driving down carbon emissions, by reducing usage, boosting efficiency measures and switching to renewable electricity and supply arrangements such as corporate PPAs.

However, heat currently accounts for 45% of the UK’s energy demand, most of which is fuelled by natural gas. 1 In recommending net zero targets, the Committee on Climate Change reinforced the need for a serious plan to decarbonise heat, from the electrification of heat to alternative fuels and decarbonising industrial processes over the coming decades.

UK businesses consume 240TWh of gas each year2, making them a prime target for immediate action. As electrification is not an option for many industries, how do gas dependent businesses take action?

A spotlight on green gas

As for electricity users, switching to green energy and boosting efficiency will help drive down emissions from gas consumption. Unlike electricity users, gas fuelled businesses have had fewer regulations or incentives to tackle heat emissions but this is changing. Businesses can take immediate action and demonstrate their sustainability credentials by choosing greener gas, backed by the right certificates. We offer the following options:

Biogas: The most sustainable choice on the market is biogas. It’s 100% renewable, coming from renewable sources such as domestic water treatment plants, food waste and residues such as straw. Businesses should specify a supply which is 100% traceable, for example through the Green Gas Certification Scheme (GGCS). It should also come with Renewable Gas Guarantees of Origin (RGGOs), the certificates, to report near-zero emissions in greenhouse gas reporting

Carbon neutral gas: The market for biogas is quite new, so availability is limited and distribution at scale can be challenging because of production methods. This is why prices are usually higher than for gas from fossil fuels. As an alternative, carbon neutral gas provides an alternative way to compensate for carbon emissions associated with a business’ natural gas consumption, without impacting budgets. Carbon neutral gas offsets aid investment in carbon reduction projects, such as forestry, renewable energy and wastewater initiatives in developing countries.

It pays to make sure that offset projects meet the highest standards: for example, Ørsted projects are accredited by Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard, ensuring that they make maximum positive impact on communities and the planet, and a measurable contribution towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Organisations can choose projects that align most closely to their own corporate social responsibility goals.

Green gas services: As well as being one of the largest business gas suppliers, we want to support the production of green gas. Biogas has great potential to help decarbonise the transport sector, alongside providing greener gas for supply contracts. For this reason, we provide a route to market for existing and new biogas producers here in the UK. With our shipping and trading capability, we can offtake gas directly from the plant and ship it to the national balancing point for onward sale, as well as providing portfolio and advisory services for optimising any future revenue streams.

Driving green efficiency

Each business knows their energy needs better than anyone. However, energy suppliers should work in partnership with businesses, solving problems creatively and effectively.

At Ørsted, our Energy Advisory service provides access to a wide range of services and technologies, to build a bespoke energy solution for each individual business. Driving energy efficiency, decarbonisation and energy cost reduction is the aim, so that businesses can reach their sustainability goals.

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) has been a catalyst for many businesses to audit energy use and rethink their energy management. Implementing and creating a long-term strategy from audit findings is key – and our Energy Advisory services provide an expert team to make this happen.

It pays to act now

Switching to greener supply drives down emissions and makes commercial sense.

A recent Ørsted survey found 73% of UK consumers stated a preference for products made with renewable energy, while investors and other stakeholders also expect higher sustainability credentials.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney recently emphasised how climate change presents a challenge but also an opportunity for businesses, who must adapt to survive. From meeting growing consumer expectation to opening up commercial opportunities, the business case to act on climate change is growing. As is the sense of urgency to keep foot on the gas towards our shared net zero goal.

Ørsted is helping business reach targets for decarbonisation by supplying innovative, green energy solutions. Find out more here

Mark Westwood is the Head of UK Commodity Solution Sales at Ørsted Sales UK.

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