Madrid’s green hydrogen plant and Wembley’s vegetable-powered vehicles: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.

Across the UK and across the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: IRENA and Bloomberg to turbocharge renewables investment

According to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), investment into renewable energy technologies reached $0.5trn in 2022, which while promising, is less than one-third of the average annual investments needed until 2030 to hit net-zero emission goals by 2050.

To respond to this funding gap, Bloomberg Philanthropies and IRENA announced a new COP28 partnership to turbocharge clean energy deployment and financial flows in emerging economies. The two organisations will develop policy recommendations, technical support, and financing solutions while boosting the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) Platform aimed at mobilising capital to scale up renewables-based energy transition technologies in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) by 2030.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President-Designate, Chairman of Masdar, one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy said: “The UAE welcomes this ambitious partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies and IRENA to champion innovation and deliver clean energy, climate action, and economic prosperity for emerging markets in the Global South.”

RESOURCES: Madrid’s water recycling drive to produce green hydrogen

cibeles fountain at plaza de cibeles in madrid

It can be easy to see resources as the materials we consume, keep and dispose of, but improving the circularity of water is also crucial to meeting key climate and societal goals. The city of Madrid in Spain is noting the need for circular water production and combining it with clean energy solutions.

Madrid plans to open its first green hydrogen plant next year. The plant will be located at the Arroyo Culebro Cuenca Media Alta wastewater treatment facility in Pinto. It will be built by Canal de Isabel II, a water-management company owned by the city of Madrid.

The plant will utilise solar generation and biogas cogeneration from waste at the treatment plant. Oxygen produced during electrolysis to produce green hydrogen from used and recycled water treatments will then be reused for further wastewater treatment. This process will produce around 80,000 kilograms of green hydrogen per year. The wastewater treatment plant will have the capacity to treat 30 million litres of water per day.

MOBILITY: Wembley wins on the pitch with cleaning vehicles powered by vegetable oil


Last Sunday, more than 77,000 football fans attend the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley, where Chelsea came out victorious against Manchester United. The stadium was able to achieve a 77% recycling, in part to an innovative new agreement with Veolia.

The Wembley stadium team worked with Veolia to introduce a fleet of new electric and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) powered vehicles to clean up the stadium post-events. The fleet sweeps the stadium after events and will also ensure emissions from that process are reduced by 90%.

Liam Boylan, Stadium Director Wembley Stadium commented: “As England’s national stadium, we are fully aware of the impact that large scale events can have on our planet. We are always looking at ways of reducing that impact. Veolia has played a huge part in helping us attain our objectives and together, we have introduced a wide range of measures to ensure sustainability is built into our everyday operations.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Huge new update planned for BREEAM assessments

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) launched an open consultation to provide insight on a new version of the BREEAM sustainability assessment method for buildings, in a bid to further align it with net-zero carbon and scientific developments.

The new version will aim to account for embodied carbon in performance assessments, which will place more focus on materials and products that building owners and developers use. The consultation opened on 24 May and will close on 30 June.

Gillian Charlesworth, BRE Chief Executive, said: “By looking at Energy and Carbon science across the board, BRE continues to provide the leading assessment and certification method for the built environment, helping owners and occupiers around the world to address the most pressing sustainability challenges in a holistic way.  We want to ensure that BREEAM reflects the latest developments in net zero science and regulation to ensure users can drive sustainability projects beyond best practice, confident that their sustainability goals are being met.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Virgin Media 02’s net zero targets validated

Virgin Media O2 is one of the most recognisable brands when it comes to corporate sustainability leadership. Just one year on from the launch of its Better Connections Plan, the company revealed that it has reduced carbon emissions by 29% over a two-year period.

Additionally, the company’s net-zero targets have been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). The company’s climate plan is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its operations, products and supply chain (Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions) by the end of 2040.

Virgin Media O2’s chief executive Lutz Schuler said:“Virgin Media O2 has stepped up for the planet, our customers and the communities we serve, going further and faster to cut carbon from our operations, support people to live more sustainably, and provide free data, devices and digital skills to help those in need get online. We’ll build on this positive progress and continue to use our purpose, people and products to have a long-lasting impact on society and the planet so everyone can live in a greener, more sustainable world.”

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