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East Anglia can be 'UK leader' in achieving net-zero by 2050, experts say

East Anglia can lead the way to making the UK a net-zero emitter by 2050, industry experts have said.
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Around one in ten firms in the East of England said they had installed an on-site renewable energy source

Speaking in an Insight Energy webinar, bosses said the region had already played a role in the country's move away from high emission energy generation, and the counties have the opportunity to help further.

Head of sustainability at British Sugar, Philip McNaughton, said that the Peterborough-based company has worked over the years to make the production process more energy-efficient - but still has more to do.

"We've got some fundamental decisions that we'll be making in the years to come in terms of how we try and move along that that trajectory to achieve net zero," he said. "It is a very significant area of work for us and it's almost coming front and centre in terms of part of our strategy as a business."

His comments were made as part of a discussion about the way East Anglia can lead the way on reaching net-zero, with new methods of energy production the leading topic.

Mark Goodall, chairman of the All Energy Industry Council, said: "When speaking to colleagues and clients — particularly in other countries — I would suggest it is quite clear that the UK is seen as being at a more advanced stage of the energy transition — in terms of stating and acting on its ambitions — than many other developed nations.

"As an example, over this last decade the shift from dirty coal to a lower emission natural gas. 

"And, of course, this region has had a huge part to play in terms of producing gas from the North Sea."

But, he said, further opportunities for clean energy growth come from offshore wind farms off the East Anglian coast.

Catrin Ellis Jones, senior strategy advisor at Vattenfall, the company behind two huge wind farms planned for off the Norfolk coast, said: "The UK is a global leader in offshore wind and East Anglia is the UK leader in offshore wind right now. 

"This is a fantastic opportunity for the east of England and we should be embracing that leadership role. Leadership is what we need to reach net-zero and we can be part of it. Every single one of us."

She added that this investment would not just help the UK reach its net-zero target, but also to improve its energy security by not importing so much electricity from abroad.

The webinar was sponsored by Norfolk & Suffolk Unlimited and Opergy.

For more information on Insight Energy click here.