Nine years after plotting its first steps towards carbon neutrality, Britain’s biggest water utility today sets out its final plan to scoring Net Zero for all its operations this decade.
Thames Water, now with 15 million customers, reckons it has already lopped 68% out of its 1990-era carbon emissions, despite adding over 4 million new accounts in two decades.
Thames is the water industry’s biggest generator of renewable electricity, self-generating more than 23% of the power it needs, and buying what it claims as 100% certified renewable electricity for the rest.
Up to 12GWh of solar power flows yearly from Thames Water’s sites, including from the world’s biggest floating PV farm, 6.3MWp of pontoons on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir near Heathrow. A total of 3,700 households are thus lit.
Central to today’s renewed drive, Thames unveiled a ventures unit, tasked to expand its renewable energy interests and open up green spaces. The company promises an “unprecedented amount of investment” for pollution reduction, safeguarding rivers and the natural environment.
Heavily regulated Thames Water produced 311GWh of electricity at its sites in 2020, equivalent to that used by Bexley, in south-east London, in a year. It recovered 150GWh of renewable heat too from operations, cutting its dependency on purchased gas.
Announced in February, its carbon-cutting partnership with Kingston Council enables excess heat to be recovered from sewage farms, freeing up 2,000 homes-worth of clean power for the borough.
Other measures in Thames Water’s roadmap include capturing sustainable biomethane from sewage farms, rolling out electric vehicles for employees’ use, and exploring CCS for site use.
CEO Sarah Bentley heralded the initiatives, “We all have a responsibility to take urgent action against climate change, the world’s biggest environmental challenge, and to work together to protect our planet and our water cycle for future generations.
“At Thames Water, we’ve played an important role in the past and are now leading the future of UK energy transition. For us, the next stop is net zero.
“We don’t yet have all the answers and our plans will evolve, but it’s a challenge we’re all relishing to enable our customers, communities, and the environment to thrive.”
More on Thames Water’s Net Zero plans and processes here.