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Sustainability

Sustainable & Renewable Energy

We have a clear vision of low carbon, reliable and affordable, renewable energy, the so-called 'energy trilemma' (that's like a dilemma, but with three things). The challenges of climate change and sustainability will demand changes in green gas technology. At Wales & West Utilities, we have embraced this reality with a strong and ambitious innovation strategy. With the seventh biomethane plant soon to be connected to our network, we are making some big achievements that will stand us in good stead in the future. As our ongoing commitment to sustainability develops, we will continue to improve our performance and are always challenging ourselves to do better by embracing new ideas and innovative solutions.

Our unique safety and environmental leadership framework was recently rated as ‘exemplary’ by the Health & Safety Executive. It supports International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14001 which sets out best practice for environmental management systems and puts carbon reduction at the centre of what we do. Its success has resulted in no adverse findings for the three-year cycle (2013-15 inclusive) – a first for utility companies.

We are on target to exceed our commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 16% over the next eight years. These are just a few of the many ways that we're achieving this;

  • Managing leakage and our own gas use – Although we have reduced leakage in recent years through gas pipe replacement and careful pressure management, methane present in natural gas is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. In order to reduce this risk we have changed the way we work and made the best use of our spending to limit our emissions.
  • Gasholder sludge – Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Traditionally, every time a gas holder is demolished, the hazardous sludge from the base of the tank is collected and sent away for disposal because it contains so many contaminants. This traditional approach releases lots of carbon. Our approach treats and re-uses the sludge as backfill, to refill holes we've dug. This means we can avoid disposal and also reduces the amount of imported backfill we need. This delivers around a 55% carbon reduction. It's a win-win.
  • Powering the “poo bus” – We have worked with Wessex Water to provide the first raw sewage treatment works with a pipe network to collect the biomethane gas produced. This connection paved the way for Britain’s first “poo bus” powered by human waste (and some food waste), to shuttle passengers between the city of Bath and Bristol Airport.
  • Our Carbon Footprint – We have an ambitious target to reduce our carbon emissions by 2% each year. Our 2013-21 (8 year target) is a 16% reduction; we have already reduced our emissions by over 6% since 2013. In 1990, our estimated annual CO2 emission was approximately 980,000 tonnes CO2e, in 2015 we have reduced this to approximately 460,000. Using the current 2% annual reduction target, we predict that in 2032 we will have reduced the CO2e to 336,000 tonnes. CO2e stands for carbon dioxide equivalent, and is a standard unit for measuring carbon footprints. The important thing is that our footprint is getting smaller every year.
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