Collaborative effort needed to cut carbon in energy and water sectors

Stronger collaboration between utility companies could see a less carbon intensive delivery of electricity, gas and water, according to the chief executive of Yorkshire Water Richard Flint.

Flint was speaking at the launch of an investment programme at the Houses of Parliament, which saw Yorkshire Water, Northumbrian Water, Northern Gas Networks and Northern Powergrid agree to invest £21bn in network improvements over the next ten years in Yorkshire and the North East.

Flint told edie that the four Northern utilities had to work together to ensure they could deliver services in the future in a more sustainable way. He explained that it was crucial to understand what their investment plans needed to be and what innovation they could bring to bear to find new answers to old problems.

“Increasingly its about looking at how you build in a less energy intensive way. So rather than looking at traditional engineering answers, you must look at ways around them in order to have less of a carbon intensive supply chain and one which is more sustainable and focuses on the future,” he said.

Speaking specifically about the water sector, Flint said: “With climate change you need to think about resilience in terms of adaptation to the current conditions.

“An important part of what we are doing is the direct investment in low carbon energy generation – the company has directly invested significant amounts of money in order to create much less dependence on fossil fuels and the grid.

“We are talking about a mixture of anaerobic digestion [as well as other forms of renewable energy] but we are also looking at more innovative schemes which allow us to do much more in the way of energy going forward.”

Flint used the example of flooding and drought as the problems his company must overcome when it comes to climate change.

“Finding ways to slow water flow down, to retain it in times of plenty, but to store it and use it in times of shortage is a way of reducing the kind of extreme effects of the kind of climatic cycle we are seeing over the last few years,” he said.

When it came to the utility sector as a whole, Flint remained adamant that a holistic approach was the way forward in meeting sustainability requirements.

“Simply by thinking and coordinating more effectively we can avoid carbon intensive engineering that has been seen as the answers to so many issues in the past,” he said.

Conor McGlone

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