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SES Water publishes net zero carbon routemap

30/06/2021

Today, SES Water has published its routemap to achieving net zero operational carbon emissions by 2030, in line with the industry’s Public Interest Commitment made by all English water companies.

The routemap sets out the Company’s ambitions in five strategic areas of focus, which aim to reduce its annual emissions by 2,400 tonnes by 2030. These areas are:

  • Water efficiency – reducing how much water is abstracted from the environment, driving down leakage and helping customers to use less water
  • Energy efficiency – reducing how much energy is used to deliver each litre of water by improving and monitoring the control of energy use
  • Renewables – continuing to purchase renewable energy, as well as generating more directly on the Company’s own land
  • Vehicles – increasing the number of ‘emission free miles’ that staff travel to carry out their jobs by reducing unnecessary journeys and switching to electric vehicles
  • Fossil fuels – eliminating use of fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative sources and new technology

Longer term the Company will focus on measuring and reducing carbon used during capital works, such as upgrading or constructing new treatment works and pipelines – also known as embodied carbon. The Company is also looking at ways to remove more carbon from the atmosphere through improving site management, helping to deliver long term environmental improvements.

The Company has been measuring its carbon footprint for ten years, using the Carbon Accounting Workbook, and has used this to proactively decrease its carbon emissions and reduce its impact on the environment, including by:

  • Making the switch to renewable electricity for all its treatment works, pumping stations and offices, and now only consumes electricity that has a Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) certificate
  • Ensuring all new company cars are electric or plug-in hybrids, with employees also being offered home-charging technology. This builds on the Company’s leading role in fleet electrification, having replaced 10% of its operational fleet with fully electric models and invested in 42 new charging points across our sites
  • Installing a rainwater harvesting system at its brand new, state-of-the-art education centre at Bough Beech Reservoir, so the toilets are flushed using rainwater collected from the roof. The Company is also teaching visitors specifically about the link between water use, carbon emissions and climate change

Chief Executive Officer, Ian Cain, said: “As a water company, we rely on the natural environment to provide water for us to treat and deliver direct into our customers’ homes and businesses. However, abstracting, treating and moving that water is an energy-intensive process, that emits millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas each year – a big contributor to our changing climate.

“That is why we have taken up the net zero carbon emissions baton and have developed a routemap to get us there by the end of the decade. Our routemap will focus on managing demand for water so that we need and use less of it and, in turn, emit less carbon. We believe that is the most collaborative way to work with our customers and local communities to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2030 – some 20 years before the economy is expected to as a whole.”

Energy and Carbon Manager, Henrietta Stock, said: “We currently emit 2,550 tonnes of carbon per year in the delivery of water, which is 89% lower than ten years ago because of changes we have made to how we source and use energy. This has included investing in more efficient pumping equipment, installing solar generation at our sites, increasing the proportion of electric vehicles in our fleet and ensuring 100% of the electricity we purchase is from green sources.

“We expect to see significant change between now and 2030, including regulatory transformation and technology innovation, which may lead us to change the specifics of our approach, always aiming to keep our routemap focused on the most sustainable, resilient and lowest cost path to net zero.”

Read the Company’s net zero carbon routemap in full.