Through its Love Every Drop strategy, the regional water business has a plan that will see it achieve net carbon neutrality by the middle of the century.
2015 Goals Achieved
- Capital carbon fell by 54% operational carbon was down 16%
- Renewable energy generated on site rose from 27.7GWh in 2009/10 to 112GWh in 2015/16
- Around 16% of that energy came from combined heat and power engines, two wind turbines and the five solar arrays installed in 2015/16.
New Goals to Meet
- Reduce operational carbon by a further 7% per cent by 2020
- A wider goal has been set by the Board, to reach full carbon neutrality by 2050.
- To shave capital carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2020 from 2010 baseline (and by 70 per cent by 2030).
Preparing for the long-term is the only route to success, says the company’s CEO.
Should you win one Queen's Awards for Enterprise trophy, you know you are doing something right as a business. In fact, it is safe to say that you are truly excelling in innovation or sustainable development, the core attributes of any organisation lucky enough to receive the highest official UK accolade for British business.
Understanding a long term strategy is key to success
“ Facing the challenges of economic growth against a backdrop of climate change means that every decision we take must have a focus on securing our long-term future. Although a closely regulated business, our approach has been to look beyond current regulation, going much further than what is expected of us and through innovation and collaboration deliver transformation. ”
The business, which supplies water and water recycling services to more than six million domestic and business customers in the east of England and Hartlepool, understands that to be successful demands a focus on the long term. If it wants to continue to supply 1.2 billion litres of drinking water a day to 4.3 million customers via 138 water treatment works and more than 38,000 kilometres of pipes, it must be sure that cultural, environmental and financial sustainability is at the core of its business model.
As such, as part of its first strategic direction statement in 2010, it identified seven challenges for the business in the 25 years to 2035 – climate change and sustainable growth being the most significant.
Love Every Drop – which promises to “fundamentally change” how the business operates, replacing traditional, inward looking, incremental ways of managing the organisation with a set of bold, far-reaching business goals, embedded throughout all operations – is the company’s response.
As one of the region’s largest energy users, carbon dioxide emissions represent one of Anglian’s greatest environmental impacts. Its commitment to tackling this was enshrined in two goals: to reduce by 2015 (from a 2010 baseline) operational carbon by 10 per cent in real terms; and capital carbon (emissions within construction projects) by 50 per cent.
Now, new goals have been set, to get operational carbon down by a further 7 per cent by 2020 from 2015 levels, and to shave capital carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2020 from 2010 baseline (and by 70 per cent by 2030). There is also a wider target, set by the Board, to reach full carbon neutrality by 2050.
Critical to this success has been the development of partnerships to deliver Anglian’s capital programme, with selection heavily weighted towards those suppliers showing a willingness to support the delivery of the Love Every Drop goals. Suppliers tend to work with the business on a 5+5+5-year timescale and are embedded into the Anglian teams to deliver its goals through innovative design and implementation. It’s a new approach for the water sector but is now being widely replicated.
Circular economy thinking
Anglian’s Water Innovation Network has been another major contributing factor to success. It is a free business network for organisations keen to supply innovative solutions to the UK’s water industry. Through an idea submission process, businesses and individuals are able to come up with specific solutions to decision makers within Anglian Water – climate change-related or otherwise – which might be taken up by the business.
Elsewhere, circular economy thinking has led to the creation of a market for biosolids, a by-product of the water-recycling process. By re-circulating the nutrient-rich product back into the system, it is offsetting the need for inorganic fertiliser to be used across the agricultural sector, offering a nutrient value of £25m a year to the sector. Today, demand for the product outstrips supply.
Meanwhile, despite customer numbers jumping 4 per cent since 2010, the amount of water being supplied today is less than it was in 1989. That is thanks to sustained reductions in leakage achieved by using the world’s largest fully integrated leakage and pressure management system. Digital innovation at its best.
Demand for water will continue to soar, and the effects of climate change will persist and take hold. “Facing the challenges of economic growth against a backdrop of climate change means that every decision we take must have a focus on securing our long-term future,” says Peter Simpson, CEO of Anglian Water Group. “Although a closely regulated business, our approach has been to look beyond current regulation, going much further than what is expected of us and through innovation and collaboration deliver transformation.”