Our CEO John Pettigrew explains why net zero should be front and central to the UK’s COVID recovery plans, and the three key areas of focus that can make for both a healthier economy and a cleaner energy future.
The past few months have been hugely challenging for both businesses and communities. The far-reaching consequences of COVID-19 cannot be underestimated and we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have been on the frontline.
We have not lost sight of our ongoing need to tackle climate change and support the UK through a clean energy transition.
Throughout the pandemic, National Grid’s role has been to keep the lights on and the gas flowing. We have focused on supporting our colleagues, customers and communities throughout this difficult time. This year may have been demanding, but we have not lost sight of our ongoing need to tackle climate change and support the UK through a clean energy transition. As we look towards the UK’s economic recovery, this is what drives us more than ever.
I believe that continued investment in net zero solutions can and should be at the heart of the UK’s recovery plan; driving growth in all corners of the country, while building a resilient and healthier future for generations to come. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take bold action, which will have a lasting impact.
To realise this opportunity will require a collective effort across Government, business and industry partners, across three key areas, and we at National Grid want to be at the heart of it.
The first area of focus is to support young people – who are set to be particularly hard hit by this crisis – into the clean energy workforce. Our research shows that, to reach the UK’s net zero target, the energy industry would need to recruit for 400,000 jobs by 2050, with over 100,000 of these needed in the next decade. These are skilled jobs, with opportunities right across the country.
And going hand in hand with this is driving a strong pipeline of shovel-ready, private sector investment in energy infrastructure. At National Grid, we have plans to invest close to £10 billion, through our regulatory settlement over the next five years, across our electricity and gas transmission businesses. This will maintain world-class resilience of the network and support the transition to a cleaner energy system.
The final piece is unlocking opportunities for communities and consumers through net zero infrastructure solutions. This includes accelerating the infrastructure to support the rollout of a national rapid charging network for electric vehicles, creating the world’s first net zero carbon industrial cluster and harnessing the economic opportunity of offshore wind in the North Sea.
The time is now to make a long-lasting impact for generations to come.
If we get this right, we can drive growth right across the country in the short-term, while allowing Britain to emerge from the current crisis better prepared for a greener future. Indeed, net zero innovation can be the UK’s calling card in the run-up to COP26 next year. The time is now to make a long-lasting impact for generations to come.