Building a cleaner economy with technology

Jim Rushen

By Jim Rushen
Head of Environment

I was proud to be part of the first ever Green GB Week this week, which saw Centrica joining forces with a range of businesses, the Government and civil society to highlight the opportunities of clean growth and inspire everyone to get involved.

As part of the week, I participated in a panel discussion on the future of green business at the Business Green Leaders Summit. It was an interesting debate where we discussed that while the UK had made significant progress in moving towards cleaner economic growth, all of us recognised the need to build on our success through resource efficiency and the utilisation of low carbon technology. 

I’m pleased to say this is exactly what we’re doing at Centrica. Having taken the strategic decision to transition away from the traditional utility model of centralised power and energy production to a customer focused energy supply and management model, we now emit over 85% less carbon per unit of revenue than we did a decade ago.

While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made, what we’re really excited about is the role our products and services can play in helping our customers realise their energy and carbon reduction ambitions which will also support the decarbonisation of the wider energy system.  

Earlier this week for example, we released our Powering Sustainability report which revealed how new and innovative distributed energy technologies are delivering significant benefits for organisations while at the same time, helping the UK meet binding carbon reduction commitments. We found that if just 50% of the Industry, Healthcare and Hospitality & Leisure sectors took up distributed energy technologies, they could deliver cumulative savings of 137mtCO2e out to 2030 – that’s equivalent to the annual emissions of 43 million homes. Annually, these technologies could meet more than half of the 20% carbon reduction targets across these sectors. These carbon savings go hand-in-hand with financial savings and in our Powering Britain’s Economic Future report, we show that these same sectors could also save £1bn on annual energy bills as a result of using distributed energy solutions.

Just imagine what could be achieved if other sectors adopted distributed energy technology? That’s why in our report, we recommend that a full assessment be completed across all business sectors and the public sector, to truly identify the opportunities distributed energy technology can create.  

At the same time, we’re helping people use energy more sustainably in their homes by providing energy efficient and Connected Home products that give customers greater insight and control over their energy. For example, 89% of customers with our Hive thermostats feel more in control over the heating with the majority reducing their use. 

What’s clear from this week is that if the UK is to meet the legally-binding Carbon Budgets of a 57% cut in 1990 emission levels by 2030 and at least an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, then a greater level of innovation will be required from industry, businesses and public sector organisations. We’re ready to help make that change.