• GreenInfrastructureWeek
Delivering the benefits of net-zero: regional jobs and growth, lower bills and a clean energy system

Delivering the benefits of net-zero: regional jobs and growth, lower bills and a clean energy system

Vattenfall’s interim UK country manager, Lisa Christie, believes that harnessing investment with policy certainty will help to deliver a clean, lower-cost energy system that supports jobs and economic growth across the country.

Over the last year, the benefits of moving to a net-zero future have become more pronounced. Along with weaning ourselves off expensive foreign gas and cutting emis­sions, it will also help to keep energy bills down and be the foundation on which regional jobs and growth are built.

In Norfolk, Vattenfall is de­veloping one of the largest off­shore wind zones in the world – bringing jobs and opportunities not just to local people but also to supply chain companies across the United Kingdom. 

Investments in clean power have been supported by the contracts for difference (CfD) scheme, introduced by gov­ernment nearly 10 years ago. It gave developers certainty to invest and helped transform the UK into a superpower of renewable energy.  

The CfD process has been incredibly successful at expand­ing the amount of offshore wind capacity in this country, while simultaneously driving down the cost. But there has been a bump in the road, and prices and costs have increased.

The best way to deal with this challenge is to keep the pipeline of offshore wind projects flowing. If developers see that the UK government is prepared to back the sector through the hard times as well as the good, then developers will repay this country in kind, with more projects, more investment, more jobs, more community benefits, and more clean power.

Onshore wind offers similar opportunities for regional growth. Supply chain companies have stated that a steady pipe­line of work, along with good visibility of future projects, is vital in allowing them to main­tain and increase employment levels and provide real jobs and training, ensuring an economic benefit at a local level in areas which are often short of exter­nal investment and stimulus.

However, developers need the UK government to put this established technology on a level playing field and make sure it is treated the same as other energy infrastructure projects in England.

As well as generating low-carbon electricity, we also need to innovate and think creatively about how we remove emissions from the ways we heat our homes. A range of technologies, appropriate for where they will be deployed, are going to be needed to reduce our climate emissions.

District heating, for exam­ple, captures waste heat and transports it to residential and commercial properties. It works best in urban areas where there are many consumers and diverse heat sources. Working with local partners, Vattenfall is decarbonising heat supplies in Edinburgh, Bristol, and London. These partnerships, enabled by decision-makers, are working towards low-carbon cities by targeting a range of new and existing commercial and residential buildings.

Now is the time for action. The UK’s infrastructure needs to be made fit to face the chal­lenges of the future. This pre­sents huge environmental and economic benefits, but it is vital that policymakers enable infra­structure upgrades to go ahead, giving certainty to investors that the UK remains committed to the net-zero transition. Working together, we will deliver it, ensuring that people across the UK get the low-cost, low-car­bon energy system they need.