Climate Perspectives Autumn 2023

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for changemakers
Image: Andy Cox, Head of Energy Transition, Howden Group.
“Without insurance, there is no energy transition!”
Andy Cox
Contents Bravo, science. Now, how are we going to finance it? Andy
Got an article in mind? Publisher Shawn Coles Interviewer Andy Walker All enquiries 8 18 COVER STORY AUTUMN 2023 | Climate Perspectives Building a Climate-Resilient UK: The Retrofit Revolution In climate conversation with… Tracey Ryan
Chair - Sustainable Development
Head of Energy Transition, Howden Group. Dr Mohammed Seddiki, Lecturer in Environmental Design and Sustainability, Robert Gordon University.

A climate perspective

Antarctic sea-ice at 'mind-blowing' low levels never seen before as 1.5 million sq km of sea-ice has melted.

Credit: Jo /

It’s always good to have a plan Mervyn Pilley, Executive Director, ESTA. How Can Industry Collaboration Expedite the UK’s Net Zero 2050 Target? Emma McKenna, Head of Net Zero, Innovate UK KTN. 24 Q2 2023 AUTUMN 2023 | Climate Perspectives Innovate UK Regular column © Binary Carbon 2023 The UK’s only not-for-profit climate magazine Contents From Scotland to the South Coast: Could Solar Benefit Your Business? Daniel Levene, Co-Founder, Two Blues Solar. 20

Bravo, science. Now, how are we going to finance it?

Head of Energy Transition

Howden Group

A recent report published by Legal & General Investment Management concluded that science and engineering had largely done its bit: technologies required for a low carbon energy system exist. Now, the most pressing challenge is securing long term investment. To meet ambitious net zero commitments, we need solutions delivered at scale. For this, financing remains difficult to unlock.

Even in situations where traditional bank lending is available, there is often a funding gap and an overreliance on blended finance models to mobilise private capital.

Throughout my career at a “Big 4” advisory, I spent much of my time

working on difficult energy deals. Often M&A, arranging financing or simple commercial viability. This meant countless hours in the boardroom debating the opportunities and risks involved. Market risks, political risks, supply chain risks, physical climate risks… the list goes on.

In the private capital markets, such myriad challenges are boiled down to a single metric. Just one number provides a critical benchmark to assess investors' preference – the cost of capital.

Those boardroom conversations focussed on risk management, mitigation, allocation and often pricing.

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Seldom was insurance – the old fashioned form of risk transfer – part of any strategic conversation about reducing the cost of capital.

To understand the role insurance can play, it is helpful to know something of its past, and the role it has played at key moments in history.

The modern insurance industry can be traced back to 17th century London. Shipping insurance was traded in coffee houses, the most famous being Edward Lloyd’s down by the River Thames. Following the Great Fire of 1666, a merchant named Nicholas Barbon founded the first joint stock company to provide fire insurance to London property owners. It proved popular, and was widely imitated.

By the time the industrial revolution was afoot, Lloyd’s coffee shop had morphed into an insurance society, taking up much grander premises at the Royal Exchange. It now offered a wide range of cheap and stable fire insurance products. This enabled mercantile and manufacturing businesses to plough investment into the technologies du jour with confidence. This, in turn, facilitated aggressive industrial expansion.

Fast forward to the mid-twentieth century. Insurance played a critical role in space exploration, with Lloyd’s insurers underwriting the first space satellite insurance in 1965.

The energy transition is another big moment in history that the insurance market will be required to support. But this time, it will need to go beyond its traditional usage and perceived boundaries.

Strategic use of the insurance markets can help investors and financiers share the risk and in turn, lower the cost of capital.

Whilst not a panacea, insurance has a unique ability to isolate and transfer specific risks to an A-rated counterparty. It can dramatically improve the covenant strength of obligors and put financial limitations on the warranty obligations of sellers. It will step in to plug revenue shortfalls due to increasing weather volatility. It can even provide a mechanism to delay equity contribution payments to significantly increase project IRRs (Internal Rate of Return). In short, strategic use of insurance can entirely remove many of the financial risks associated with scaling emerging technologies.


Already, major underwriters in the UK and USA are gearing up to make significant investment in the energy transition. For example, last year saw the launch of the world’s first insurance product for the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM). It is designed to give buyers and sellers of highquality, verified carbon credits greater certainty. This should contribute to growing the VCM to $50bn by 2030.

On the client-facing end, my belief is that with brokers prepared to shape innovative solutions that the insurance industry can stand behind, risks will be transferred, cost of capital will be lowered and capital will flow more readily to deserving projects.

There are significant pools of capital ready to be deployed that will supercharge the transition to low carbon energy. Channelling funds into the right projects is vital.

$120 and $150 trillion. Estimates today of the capacity available in the insurance market fall woefully short. This is an issue that’s quietly building around the market and one that the financial services industry will need to lean into over the coming years. Simply put: if projects can’t be insured, they don’t happen. Without insurance, there is no energy transition!

Howden Howden is a leading global insurance group providing insurance broking, reinsurance broking and underwriting services and solutions to clients ranging from individuals to the largest multinational companies.

Founded in 1994, the group operates in 50 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, employing 15,000 people and handling $35bn of premium on behalf of clients.

While the industry has an enormous balance sheet capable of shouldering much of the risk weighing on the transition, it has a clear need to increase its own capacity.

Analysts estimate that the amount of capital required to be deployed into infrastructure projects to reach net zero by 2050 is anywhere between

Read more about the Group’s Climate Risk and Resilience team.


In climate conversation with…

Tracey Ryan MSc

Andy Walker, Interviewer, Climate Perspectives

Aurecon New Zealand managing director Tracey Ryan is also the chair of international engineering federation FIDIC’s sustainable development committee. She spoke to Andy Walker for Climate Perspectives about her thoughts on net zero, sustainability and what needs to be done globally to address the climate crisis.

Tracey Ryan first became aware of climate change during her early work as an engineer in Ireland and later in New Zealand. “I completed my thesis on the Galway Flooding Study in response to the serious flooding events in 1994/1995. This was my first awareness of what climate

change may do to our cities and communities in the future and the seriousness with which we all need to take it. Of course, since then, South Galway has been decimated again by flooding in 2009, 2015-2016 and 2020. With flooding events becoming more and more prolific, my thoughts always go back to Galway,” she says.

“When I first came to Aotearoa New Zealand with my husband, back in 2002, we explored the Westcoast and the Franz Joseph Glaciers which were magnificent. Once settled in New Zealand, my parents came over from Ireland to visit and we took them to see the glaciers. This would have been five or six years after

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Tracey Ryan

my first trip there. Visually you could see how much the ice had retreated in that time and I remember how it impacted me. According to official records, Franz Joseph rapidly retreated and lost a massive 1.56km in length in ten years.”

Ryan believes the work of the infrastructure sector is crucial in achieving net zero. “It goes without saying how important our sector is. We have to be the problem solvers and fixers and I think that mindset is naturally built into engineers and others working in our sector,” she says.

“We have to come together and ultimately be able to adapt to new ways, or even the evolution of the infrastructure we build. Whether it’s the evolution that digital technology brings us, new developments with nature positive solutions and research on new materials the sector can use,” Ryan says. She’s keen to stress the crucial role that infrastructure professionals have to play.

“A better future is a world that works for all of humanity and the planet. As engineers, designers and advisors, we play a vital role in helping the communities and economies in which we operate transition to a more

Tracey Ryan

sustainable, liveable future,” she says. Ryan believes it’s also important to go beyond net zero and start thinking about the politics of it all too. And that means climate justice.

“We have to think beyond net zero –climate touches so many areas that all need to be addressed. Equity building and social equality are key for the world to achieve decarbonisation. Look at the cost of living that many countries are experiencing at this time. Both people and governments are pushing back on key climate change initiatives and policy because their focus is on getting the cost of living down. More emphasis needs to be placed on economic growth through climate and nature. How about social inequality – how are families supposed to invest in solar panels for their homes if they can’t even afford food on the table. The world needs to understand that everything is interlinked,” she says.

Earlier this year, Ryan was appointed as chair of Infrastructure New Zealand (INZ), the country's leading infrastructure membership group. I asked her how important sustainability is to INZ’s membership and how are they ensuring it remains high profile.

“One of INZ’s strategic priorities is sustainability and climate change. All our members understand that we need to do more – we’re all problem solvers and fixers. For us its more about how we all come together –Infrastructure NZ, the work we do through the Construction Sector Accord and associations such as the

Infrastructure Sustainability Council. It’s that collaboration that we need more of,” she explains.

Wearing her Aurecon New Zealand ‘hat’, I ask her whether Aurecon cutting more than a third of its carbon since 2018 means that her company’s progress and experience is changing the way they approach projects and work with clients. “We know that Aurecon’s biggest contribution to society will come from the work we do with our clients –which is helping them manage their climate related risks. Our clients are large infrastructure providers and in one way or another, we are involved in all of the largest infrastructure projects happening in Aotearoa New Zealand at the moment,” she says.

“The work we do with Aurecon’s own operations to transition to a net zero emissions future is, although extremely important, not on the same scale as working with our clients, for example Fonterra when we’re helping to decarbonisation their dairy factories across NZ.

“Again, looking at sustainability and climate change more broadly than net zero, Aurecon’s commitment to the United Nations Global Compact means we are continually working on aspects such as equality, diversity and inclusion, health, safety and wellbeing of not only our people, but those in our communities.”

In her role as chair of FIDIC’s sustainable development committee, Ryan is keen to stress the global importance of the work around climate issues. “Climate change is a global issue and therefore needs a

global response at a global level. FIDIC has a reach of approximately one million engineers around the world and again, we’re problem solvers and fixers, no matter where we are in the world.

“FIDIC is also extremely important for knowledge sharing and over the past year its sustainable development committee has launched a new Climate Change Charter and also a new Playbook for Nature Positive Infrastructure Development in conjunction with WWF. The partnership with WWF is extremely powerful for FIDIC and helps us to be recognised as collaborating on a global stage for the good of humanity.”

Ryan believes that despite the current challenges around climate change and the policy drift from some prominent governments, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. “We actually have to be optimistic and continue to be climate problem solvers and fixers,” she says. “We need to continue to have a strong voice at the decision-making tables of both the public and private sectors to help our society with these challenges and we need to be advocates for bipartisanship across sectors.

“At the end of the day, we have the smarts, we’re on the leading edge of digital and technology and we have the skills and capability. We just to get on with it and challenge ourselves.”

Tracey Ryan

Building a Climate-Resilient UK: The Retrofit Revolution

The UK’s commitment to net-zero by 2050 necessitates a deep dive into the heart of our existing infrastructure –notably our building stock. As we traverse the journey towards a more sustainable future, retrofitting presents both challenges and opportunities, intricately intertwined with our global combat against climate change.

At the crux of our fight against a warming planet lies the built environment. With the UK’s Climate Act of 2008 as a backdrop, our objective is clear - addressing fossil fuel emissions. The existing housing stock holds the keys to significant carbon reductions, but retrofitting these buildings is no small feat.

The myriad of technical and nontechnical challenges includes economic constraints and environmental barriers. As the nation pivots towards its ambitious net-zero goals, it is imperative to grasp the complexities of retrofitting. From ensuring compliance with everevolving legislation and building regulations to aligning with national incentives and schemes, the retrofitting roadmap is multifaceted.

Deep retrofitting is an emergent need. A two-pronged approach – stepby-step and whole-house renovation –offers a versatile financial strategy. Yet, retrofitting is more than just economic calculus. The broader spectrum includes the environment,

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health, and holistic well-being. Instead of a singular focus on return on investment, the narrative must shift towards environmental dividends and health paybacks. Indeed, our recent research at the Scot Sutherland School of Architecture and the Built Environment, Robert Gordon University, suggests that homeowners in the UK are deterred by the substantial investment required for retrofitting.

Mobilising public sentiment is paramount. The national impetus to reduce carbon emissions should resonate with the populace. Building trust among stakeholders, from homeowners to investors, is vital. Initiatives should prioritize the most vulnerable, addressing concerns of fuel poverty and health while streamlining energy and carbon savings.

The future calls for a comprehensive retrofit strategy that champions the phasing out of fossil fuels and

emphasizes reduced heating demand. Investing in sustainable construction materials and technologies will be instrumental. Moreover, the thrust should be on strengthening research and innovative tech. National-scale data on retrofitting strategies can catalyse informed decision-making.

Engaging local governance, innovation hubs, and stakeholders in collaborative events, workshops, and training sessions will foster a collective retrofit ethos. Policymakers, end-users, and the broader community, collectively, have the power to sculpt the sustainable building landscape of tomorrow.

In conclusion, as we architect the future of the UK’s buildings, continuous scientific and experimental research on retrofitting schemes, combined with large-scale evaluations, will provide the pillars upon which our climate-resilient and sustainable future rests.

From Scotland to the South Coast: Could Solar Benefit Your Business?

Whether you’re a sun worshipper or you can’t stand the heat, you’ve probably wondered at some stage how much your business could save on energy bills and carbon emissions if you had solar on the roof.

For despite the well-established nature of solar technology and its exponential growth over the past 1015 years, it still remains underdeveloped in the UK. Only 5% of the UK’s warehouse rooftops currently have solar installed.

There’s clearly a huge untapped potential to contribute to both individual businesses’ net zero goals as well as the UK’s wider targets.

Understandably, in order to justify investment in renewable generation, most businesses need to ensure it will be commercially sustainable. Fortunately it makes complete sense to invest in solar as it is currently the cheapest source of electricity available. Added to that, rooftop solar offers one of the quickest means of generating on-site renewable energy. If the system size is below the planning threshold of 1MWp, it will likely take only c. 6-7 months from application to “go live”.

So what holds businesses back? As with most sustainability initiatives, there’s no single answer to that question. It might be due to time, resource or capital constraints or

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simply a lack of awareness of the options available and the benefits that can be accessed. As a result, solar often gets put in the “too difficult” or “not right now” or “it won’t work for my business” bucket.

And it’s true that solar may not work for everyone. If for example you’re a logistics business looking to roll out electric vehicles and support your increased energy consumption with solar, you might find that your operating profile (if you’re charging at night) doesn’t match the output profile of solar particularly well. Whilst battery storage should help solve this mismatch in the long-term, solutions are currently very expensive. However, if you’re a manufacturing business operating mainly daytime hours, and you’ve seen your energy bills rise significantly, solar is likely to offer an excellent means of accessing cost and carbon savings.

So to give you an idea of how solar could benefit businesses, we’ve modelled five identical 20,000 sq ft steel framed commercial warehouses across different UK locations.

We’ve assumed that all the sites have north / south facing, 8.5 degree pitched roofs and are using the same high-quality equipment.

We’ve also assumed that the whole roof is covered by panels and that all the energy produced is consumed by the building.

The locations (Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Eastbourne) were chosen based upon the general bands of UK solar irradiance in the SolarGIS diagram.

We explored the carbon and energy cost savings that could be offered to these warehouses if the systems were funded through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

A PPA is a means of financing solar that allows a business (a tenant, landlord or owner occupier) to install solar without any upfront capital.

The PPA provider funds 100% of the installation and ongoing maintenance costs. They then sell the solar energy back to the business. The contractual terms for the sale of this energy are laid out in a Power Purchase Agreement. The price of the energy is typically considerably lower than the market price businesses will pay to their energy supplier.

To calculate the potential cost savings, we assumed a market energy price of 30 p/ kWh in comparison to a PPA price of 13 p/kWh.

Unsurprisingly, more energy and savings are produced in locations where the solar irradiance is higher. Yet regardless of location, the savings provided in each case are significant. These sites could have generated over £8,000 of energy savings and 2.7t in carbon savings in one month alone this summer. For a huge number of businesses, solar will make commercial and environmental sense. It's time to move solar to the “action now” bucket!

Two Blues Solar provides fullyfunded solar via a PPA to energyintensive businesses. Find out more on our website or get in touch at

We’re also delighted to be a sponsor of the UK’s national awareness week, Energy Security and Green Infrastructure Week, 6-10 November. As part of the week’s online conference, we’ll be hosting a live webinar aimed at anyone considering installing on-site solar for their business.

If you’d like to find out more, register for our webinar here.

Eastbourne London Birmingham Manchester Glasgow Annual Saving £60,463 £54,323 £51,466 £49,162 £48,544 June Saving £9,432 £8,474 £8,028 £7,669 £7,572 Annual Carbon Emission Saving 37.34 33.19 31.32t 30.32 30.06 Equivalent Trees Planted 1,715 1,525 1,439 1,392 1,380 23

It’s always good to have a plan

My father always impressed upon me the need for a plan to play a major part in life’s journey. At school I remember studying the Soviet fiveyear plans concept. An early interest in politics didn’t immediately link the five-year plan concept to a political election cycle but the fixed five-year government concept came much later courtesy of David Cameron.

The active interest in politics grew in my adult years. I have read just about every political diary ever published and these reinforced the need for a plan with Ministers being given a reasonable period of time in the role and equally being well briefed on the Ministry they occupied.

Why am I going on about my past and the need for a plan I hear you ask. Isn’t this supposed to be an article on energy efficiency and what has been going on recently in the sector. Well, the link between the interest in politics and planning coupled with a fifty-year interest in membership led me to a second career running Trade Associations. That career took me into the political orbit lobbying civil servants and Ministers on the important issues affecting the sectors I/we represented.

When I joined ESTA in April 2019, I didn’t imagine that lobbying the powers that be, would be a hard job when the members that we represent were offering such relevant solutions to the challenges of the time.

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I have always believed in something that Michael Heseltine espoused in 1993 – that Trade Associations should play an active role in working with the government of the day to create the best possible policies for effective government.

So where has it gone so very wrong, especially in the last couple of years. The pandemic clearly didn’t help and that plus Brexit and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has certainly created a number of crises on top of the climate driven one. The current government, albeit with different political ‘shades’ has been in power for thirteen years so logic would say they have had time to plan ignoring the short termism of five-year cycles.

The events of last year with the rapidly revolving door for Ministers and indeed Prime Ministers followed on from the era of SPAD dominance under Boris Johnson’s period as PM. Getting government to listen became a great deal harder as civil servants lost influence. As COP26 came and went and the energy crisis rapidly accelerated I began to realise that the government really didn’t seem to get the major positives that energy efficiency offered as a solution to all of the issues being discussed including the other two words that dominated leading up to Glasgow in November 2021 – Net Zero.

A climate perspective

115 people are confirmed dead and over 100 people are missing from Lahaina, on the Island of Maui, after it was destroyed by wild-fires.

Credit: bilanol /

A lot of strategy documents were issued in 2021 but these in themselves don’t constitute a proper plan. In recent weeks leading up to this article the situation has got far worse very quickly as the by-election result in Uxbridge coupled with a poll lead for the opposition party has led the Prime Minister into a direction of travel that for me and many others in the sector is the wrong direction. Whilst not wishing to get tied up with US politics a ringing endorsement of your climate action plans from Donald Trump does rather tell a tale.

From the ESTA perspective the fast track promotion of a very young and very new MP to the Secretary of State for Energy role was a warning in itself and that together with the recent U turn announcements on environmental policies have proved that ultra short term thinking about winning an election has replaced any thought about a sensible, well thought plan on doing the right thing by the planet and the human race. The demise of the short lived and relatively unproductive Energy Efficiency taskforce was in many ways not unexpected. Right from the start the Michael Heseltine approach to involving the expert knowledge of Trade Associations as a way to create

effective policy was ignored with the taskforce consisting almost exclusively of the great and the good with very limited expertise in energy efficiency. From our perspective the fact that the BBC headlined the demise of the ‘home’ energy efficiency taskforce also highlighted another gap in the government’s perception of energy efficiency – the need for commercial and non-domestic energy efficiency at scale. It really isn’t just about boilers versus heat pumps! At the time of writing this we are still waiting to hear anything from the Secretary of State and equally waiting to hear from government on what the next stage is on treating energy efficiency as an energy supply and security issue. My major worry at the moment is that everything has been put on hold until the election takes place in 2024.


How Can Industry Collaboration Expedite the UK’s Net Zero 2050 Target?

The urgency to combat climate change has propelled the UK towards an ambitious target - achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. This challenge necessitates a shift in how we approach sustainability. Emma McKenna, Head of Net Zero at Innovate UK KTN, discusses the importance of industry collaboration to find those sustainable solutions.

way of living and conducting business. If we could do this easily, with existing ideas, technologies, systems and processes, we’d have already done it. That’s why innovation is a critical tool underpinning this journey.

As the UK sets its sights on achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050, the nation finds itself in a race toward a more sustainable future. Such a tight deadline requires not only significant but also timely action from governments, industries, and the public to transition to a radically more environmentally responsible

The traditional methods and practices that have driven our economy for centuries are no longer sufficient but, as the old saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun. To think of, plan, create, and deliver the completely new solutions we need to reach Net Zero by 2050 will be no small feat. To achieve this, unlikely specialists in industries that would never normally mix must collaborate to inspire truly innovative solutions.

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Recognising the pressing need for industry collaboration, Innovate UK opened its doors to SMEs and innovators across the UK through its Net Zero Catalyst Challenge (part of the Innovation Exchange programme) which was launched to solve several distinct sustainability challenges facing businesses across multiple industries, ranging from waste reduction and energy efficiency to building resilient, low-carbon supply chains. These pioneers have risen to the challenge, showcasing their innovative solutions across various sectors. Critically, they show us that new ideas are indeed possible.

on behalf of ICAX, a leader in heat pump technology. MMC's ingenious solution involved using biodegradable mycelium, a fungal material, to create environmentally friendly packaging. This innovation not only addresses packaging waste but also promotes a circular economy by utilising renewable resources.

Deep Planet: A Leap in Soil Carbon Measurement

Magical Mushroom Company (MMC): Sustainable Packaging for Heat Pumps

One standout success is the Magical Mushroom Company (MMC), a rapidly growing sustainable packaging business located in Surrey and Nottingham. MMC tackled the challenge of designing sustainable packaging for air source heat pumps

Deep Planet, a company specialising in Earth observation technology and machine learning, demonstrated its prowess by providing a more efficient method of measuring soil carbon levels. This innovation was trialled with Bloci, a carbon-offsetting SME. They harnessed satellite data and AI to streamline their processes, reducing labour costs and significantly enhancing productivity. This innovation not only accelerates carbon-offsetting efforts but also showcases the power of technology in environmental conservation.


Iknaia and Polycord: A collaboration aimed at ending single-use plastic packaging

Collaboration often leads to groundbreaking solutions, as demonstrated by Iknaia and Polycord. Together, they tackled the challenge of understanding the optimal growing conditions for mycelium at MMC’s facilities, a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics in packaging. Their solution, employing electronic monitors and deep tech modelling, not only ensures the quality of mycelium-based products but also exemplifies the potential of cross-industry cooperation.

resources, and ideas from diverse sources, to find the very best solutions to reducing the UK’s emissions. When different organisations, researchers, and experts work together, they can combine their knowledge and creativity in novel ways to develop new technologies, processes, and approaches making the route to Net Zero clearer as we go.

A lot of the solutions that are essential in decarbonising and creating a net zero and circular economy already exist out there. Visibility and awareness of these are limited, preventing the rapid adoption of innovation that we need to make this a reality.

In conclusion

As we all know, addressing climate change and achieving Net Zero is an incredibly complex task. It involves multiple sectors and industries as well as stakeholders and thoughtleaders. Collaboration, therefore, is vital for combatting this challenge, as it enables the pooling of expertise,

Innovation Exchange enables cross-sector collaboration and supports the gaining of access to innovations that can support challenge holders in overcoming net zero challenges. To find out more, visit here.




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