Greater Manchester ‘must use 25 per cent less energy’

Greater Manchester can reach its net-zero target by 2038 but must use 25 per cent less energy, despite a growing population and economy, according to a report between gas network Cadent and Electricity North West.

The report says the region has no room for delay or error. But if it can tackle energy inefficiency, ditch fossil fuel gas in favour of zero-carbon hydrogen and use green electricity generated more locally, it has the opportunity to become an ‘energy transition lighthouse’ for the rest of the UK – and beyond.

Forecasting that energy demand in GMCA’s 10 districts could drop from 52TWh now to just 39TWh in 2038, the report sets out a four-phase journey, each phase lasting four to five years, that will navigate the region towards its goal.

A huge push will be needed to improve energy efficiency in both domestic and industrial or commercial buildings, as well as accelerating initiatives to get people out of their cars in favour of walking, cycling and public transport.

The transition to electric vehicles is expected to double peak demand for electricity, with almost half of all GMCA’s energy demands being met by electricity in 18 years’ time (18.7TWh). As a result, the network will need ongoing investment to increase capacity.

However, more of that electricity will need to be generated locally, including a bigger role for rooftop solar PV panels, onshore wind and biofuels. More than 100,000 public charging points for electric vehicles will also need to be installed.

The report says that in the most likely scenario green gases such as hydrogen will feature large in 2038 Greater Manchester (14TWh of its total energy).

Already being adopted by countries across the world, hydrogen is planned be produced in large volume on Greater Manchester’s doorstep by the mid-2020s. It can then be delivered by a new pipeline into the city and wider region. This is part of a UK-first project, backed by Cadent, called HyNet North West – offering reliable, on-demand and carbon neutral heat for homes and industry.

“We need to get this right first-time if Greater Manchester is going to be carbon neutral by 2038 and this report shows it can be done,” said Dr Angela Needle (pictured), director of strategy at Cadent. “We know we can bring the hydrogen needed, but that needs action now – at local and national government level – to back very deliverable projects like HyNet North West.

“The Committee on Climate Change says that hydrogen is critical to UK achieving net zero. It is going to play a key role in the trickiest areas to decarbonise, heat and heavy transport.”

Electricity North West’s strategic decarbonisation manager, Helen Boyle, said: “As we reduce the amount of energy we need overall, demand for electricity is set to increase as people change to electric vehicles from petrol and diesel ones. This report shows how electricity and potentially hydrogen will replace natural gas to get us to net zero.”

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