Time to Get Real on Climate Change: Keith Anderson, CEO, Scottish Power

Time to Get Real on Climate Change: Keith Anderson, CEO, Scottish Power

Keith Anderson, Scottish Power, at All-Energy 2019

“I am very pleased to be here today opening the 2019 All Energy Conference, and chairing the session with a great range of speakers.

This year we reached a tipping point. Extinction Rebellion, School Strikes, the David Attenborough documentary and the Climate Change Committee report. Political parties falling over themselves to declare ‘climate emergencies’. The tipping point is about the urgent need to act now. People in Britain want to take action now to prevent climate disaster in the near future.

Recent polling shows that in March 2019, 80% of the British public is concerned about climate change, 6% higher than previous.

The Climate Change Committee report published this month couldn’t be clearer in its recommendations. The UK has to be Carbon Net Zero by 2050; Scotland by 2045. To meet this target, renewable energy capacity has to quadruple and secondly, as the economy decarbonises, overall electricity generation capacity has to double.

This is a stark challenge. It’s comparable to the post-war reconstruction of our national infrastructure but this is the right response to a climate emergency and the CCC is clear: we can do all of it, hit all of these targets using technology that exists today and in doing so, be the first major economy to decarbonise Some commentators have reacted to this negatively by focusing on what we will have to stop or give up
This is wrong. This is the most important opportunity of our age.
The prize is cleaner air, healthier lives and a world-leading all-electric economy which in turn can and should become an example to the rest of the world.

The technology – that we’ve worked hard to prove, develop, implement and scale – is already there. You see it up at Whitelee just a few miles away. You see it with the closure of Longannet and the creation of world-leading renewable energy skills and expertise. There is nothing to stop us doing this right now. But first, we have to get real about how we meet this challenge. We need to have an honest conversation about how we decarbonise an honest conversation about renewables, electric vehicles and the grid that will support them both.

For ScottishPower our role is clear: we need to continue to decarbonise generation, build smarter grids and enable the electrification of transport and heat.

This year we became the first integrated energy company to only generate 100% green electricity; this is the culmination of 20 years of hard work, working with our supply chain to innovate and drive down the cost of renewable energy. Today, all the electricity we generate for our customers comes from nearly 40 onshore and offshore wind farms across the UK but we need to build more if we are to quadruple renewable generation by 2050. Offshore wind is cheaper than ever before – through efficiencies, and in particular our work with our offshore project – East Anglia One.

We have driven down the cost and cut the price of contracts for Offshore Windfarms in half.

This year we will complete East Anglia One and start work on East Anglia Three offshore wind continues to make excellent progress. However, onshore wind is the foundation on which our success in delivering Net Zero will be built. Over the last three years, I have made the economic case for onshore wind, detailed public support and called for immediate action to provide a viable route to market. Simply, onshore wind works. It is cheap, it can be built quickly, it supports jobs, it is popular and it is secure. Onshore wind has to be brought back into the fold if we are serious about delivering Net Zero, and of course, the switch to electric vehicles only makes sense if the cars are powered by renewable power.

The alternative is that clean, low emission cars are running silently and efficiently on our roads, but we’re just moving that air pollution and carbon fuel further away to the coal and gas power plants that are generating their electricity. We can’t allow this to happen. Acknowledging Scotland’s progress in decarbonisation, the CCC has set this country the most challenging target, to become Net Zero by 2045. Like everyone in this room, I know this will be tough, but something Scotland will be proud to achieve, and if Scotland is to succeed as a country then Glasgow – its biggest city- has to be even more ambitious and progressive in meeting the challenge. But I’m confident that Glasgow can do this, and I’ll tell you why.

Glasgow is a no-nonsense city and it’s our home. Across the city, you can see Whitelee, the UK’s largest onshore windfarm that we built ten years ago.

Whitelee is directly connected to the city by the grid that we own and operate The grid that will be at the heart of decarbonising the city.
You will be hearing from Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council shortly, Glasgow City Council hasn’t hung about, as they announced the first Low Emissions Zone outside of London last year. We applaud this ambition and will fully support Susan Aitken’s team in making it work. To match the city’s ambitions we will have to use the grid in ways that have not been considered before.

Over 70% of Glaswegians live in flats – multi-residency properties – with no personal off-street parking, building a charging system to support EVs across this city will be tricky, but we are ready to take on the challenge to make electric vehicles work for Glaswegians. This way of living is engrained in the culture of Glasgow. It’s not going to change and there’s no reason why it should change. But there’s also no reason why those without a driveway shouldn’t benefit from the decarbonisation of transport.

Together with the City Council, we are going to develop an EV charging system that will be the template for urban charging across the UK and the rest of the world. That’s why today we announce that we will together make Glasgow the UK’s first Net Zero city. It is our hope that this declaration kick starts a race to zero with other ambitious cities, like Edinburgh, because then we will all be winners.

The prize is the future of our country and our planet. So what are we going to do?

Starting in Glasgow, ScottishPower will invest in systems behind the plug to help people move to electric transport easier and quicker. We can’t do any of this without the grid being at the heart of the energy system so it is vital we continue to build a smarter network to enable Scotland’s move to decarbonised transport. We are already helping domestic customers with our end-to-end home charging system – providing a seamless journey to customers who are making the transition to an electric car, with peace of mind each step of the way. But we are now looking at the wider issue of workplace and public charging – one that is yet to be solved. We are working on a basis where people can charge away from the home, quicker than they imagine, so there are no delays or restrictions to owning an electric vehicle wherever you live, work or travel. So we are beyond the tipping point now, people are clear – they want us to just get on with it.

The CCC have given us a clear target and what we urgently need from Government is a clear road map of how to get there. We know what the prize is – cleaner air, healthier lives and a world leading all-electric economy. We know all the technology is there, we have everything we need within our grasp. And we know how to make it work – we can make it efficient and low cost – we have that in our gift. That is why the white paper that is due in summer is absolutely crucial and fundamental to our
future. I can’t stress its importance. The white paper will be the most important piece of Government legislation on Climate Change in recent times. We need it to clearly outline a medium-term road map of how we get to net zero – it has to focus on real delivery with the technology we already have.

The 2020s are key – what we do over the next ten years will determine whether we meet this target or not. So we need to start now, and that’s what I mean by getting real about climate change”

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