United Utilities achieves record renewable energy generation and uses electricity exclusively from green sources

United Utilities has had a record year for generating its own renewable energy in-house, helping protect its water customers from rising power costs.

The North West water company generated a record 210 GWh of renewable energy in 2021/22, equivalent to 26 per cent of the company’s total electricity consumption.

In addition, it published in its 2021/22 Annual Report, that the second of its six carbon pledges – 100 per cent of electricity used from renewable sources – was achieved from October 2021.

United Utilities’ extensive renewable energy installation programme began in 2014, and it now has 70 solar, wind and hydro installations across the region, including Europe’s first commercial floating solar array on Godley Reservoir near Hyde in Manchester.

Other notable projects and successes as part of the route to net zero include:

  • Hydro-turbine at Oswestry: Installed in 2019, this generates around 2,000,000 kWh per year, reducing the amount of electricity that has to be purchased from the grid which would otherwise cost around £300k. The Feed in Tariff is also received, which is worth a further £140k per year.
  • More than 60 MW of solar and wind generation has been installed over the last seven years, providing around 6 per cent of the total electricity required by the business.
  • In FY 2021/22 United Utilities had its best ever generation from combined heat and power (CHP) engines and biomethane production, which uses the biogas produced from wastewater treatment. CHP electricity generation provided 17 per cent of total electricity usage, and the biomethane produced is exported to the gas network to off-set natural gas use. Last year around 50,000 MWh of biomethane was exported, which is enough for 4,000 homes per year (based on the average use per UK home).

Pat Horne, Head of Strategy & Commercial Bioresources, Energy & Carbon at United Utilities, said: “We set a record for renewable energy generation in 2021/22 and have used only green electricity from October 2021, which is great news to share as we mark Net Zero Week.

“We also installed more solar panels during the year and continued our Energy Management Programme, which helps us optimise site operations and enhance our energy performance.

“We know that energy prices have increased considerably this year and this is one of the biggest operational costs faced by businesses like ours. We’re committed to keeping bills as low as possible for our customers, so by generating our own energy in-house we can keep control of our costs. Not only does this make us a greener business, it makes us stronger in supporting households throughout the North-West.

“As we look ahead to 2030 and achieving the rest of our net zero pledges, we are confident that we are on the right path and that our continued investment, innovation and analysis will help us achieve our ambitious and important goals.”

United Utilities has also achieved pledge 6 of its net zero goals – to set a target for emissions from the value chain. The remaining pledges where activities are progressing are:

  • Pledge 1 – Reduce scope 1 (direct) and 2 (indirect) emissions by 42 per cent compared to baseline by 2030
  • Pledge 3 – 100% green fleet by 2028
  • Pledge 4 – 1,000 hectares of peatland restoration by 2030
  • Pledge 5 – Create 550 hectares of woodland by 2030

To see the 2021/22 Annual Report

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