The industry must work together to achieve net zero, says Gillian Noble, UK managing director, offshore development and operations at ScottishPower Renewables.

Delivering a secure, affordable, low-carbon energy system with more green electricity generated here in the UK is what we do.

We all know where we need to go – moving away from fossil fuels and speeding up the process to get more homegrown clean and secure energy into production here on our shores. In getting there, we have ambitious targets to meet – whether that’s the 2030 NDC under the Paris Agreement, the decarbonisation of the power sector by 2035, or reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

But are we on track – and what happens if not?

The answer was set out starkly in the opening lines of a recent report from the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee: “The UK must rapidly increase the generation of fossil fuel-free electricity. If we fail, there will be a physical limit to the volume of electric vehicles, electric heat pumps and other newly electrified processes that can be powered through low-carbon electricity.”

A sobering thought.

And that report makes it clear there’s no guarantee that we’re going to reach our ultimate net zero target unless something changes along the way.

So, what does that mean for us in the energy industry as we make the transition to a clean energy future? How do we keep on track and ensure we meet the milestones that will help steer our course to 2050?

From a developer’s perspective, we’re already playing our part. Across ScottishPower Renewables, we’re investing almost £3 billion between now and 2025 to increase offshore wind, onshore wind and solar generation.

Eastern Daily Press: The energy industry must work together to achieve net zeroThe energy industry must work together to achieve net zero (Image: Getty Images)

We also have a record pipeline of renewables projects, including our first floating wind projects and, of course, our East Anglia Hub. Individually and collectively, these are all projects that will deliver massive benefits: billions of pounds of investment, thousands of jobs – including 1,000 jobs we’re recruiting across ScottishPower this year alone – supply chain growth and opportunities for our communities.

But we need to make it easier and quicker to get to work on green projects like these. If we don’t, there’s a danger of the UK languishing on the sidelines while other countries march on towards that green, net zero future we’re all aiming for.

That means ensuring we have a planning system that supports the development of projects alongside appropriate scrutiny; a Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction strategy that offers sustainable pricing and forward-looking certainty to developers and supply chain alike; and speeding up the delivery and planning of grid infrastructure so the green electricity we produce can get where it needs to go.

It isn’t rocket science – it just needs commitment, clarity and collaboration.

I’m not suggesting for one second it will be easy, but the challenges of the Covid pandemic showcased just what we can do when we work together.

If we treat the climate emergency with the same urgency and importance as we did the pandemic, I have no doubt we will enjoy cleaner and greener lives, stay on course for 2050 and reap the benefits of a net zero future.