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Richard Kirkman
Richard Kirkman

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02 December 2019 | Richard Kirkman

We are deep into a climate crisis, which is inextricably linked to a looming energy crisis, says Richard Kirkman.

We are deep into a climate crisis, which is inextricably linked to a looming energy crisis. 

Following the scale of the recent disruption caused by the temporary loss of just 5 per cent of the UK generating capacity, along with electricity consumption set to double by 2050, the future of our energy supply is in the balance. 

Addressing it will require profound changes from UK businesses. Set against the background of the lack of reserves to avert the energy system failure, multiple energy supplier collapses, and rising energy costs, it’s time for organisations to rethink their energy policies. 

We recently released a report showing that more than 68 per cent of energy managers are very concerned or concerned about the reliability and security of their energy supply. And half of the senior decision-makers believe the UK is heading towards an energy crisis.

There is every reason to be concerned about business continuity and ensuring uninterrupted energy supply comes with a net zero-carbon footprint. Despite having a best-in-class National Grid, there are still critical decisions around the network’s use, development and resilience, with more extreme weather events presenting a challenge. 

The risks we face are real but there are solutions using proven carbon-reducing energy technologies. The climate emergency is happening in front of our eyes and Generation Z – the people growing up and future citizens and customers – are expecting action. With COP26 in 2020, it’s time to get on the Net Zero trajectory.

Look to target energy use and provide on-site generation using renewable and low-carbon technologies. Transform sewage, food waste, non-recyclable household waste and waste wood into renewable heat and electricity. These strategies have already helped hundreds of organisations to become energy self-sufficient. 

Richard Kirkman is chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia UK and Ireland