We are committed to protecting the environment and the Earth’s climate. We live up to this commitment by transforming the businesses and promoting the changes needed to achieve a low-carbon economy. We are aware that a successful transformation to a low-carbon economy will require far-reaching and permanent structural changes across society. Therefore, our operating companies around the world are implementing initiatives to drive the energy transition and making steady progress on the path towards net zero emissions.
In addition to our focus on climate change and energy transition, we continue our work on other strategic environmental initiatives to protect biodiversity, promote efficient and responsible use of natural resources, and prevent pollution through continuous improvement of technologies and use of the latest clean technologies, processes, and systems to control and minimise environmental impacts.
Combating Climate Change
We recognise that investor and stakeholder interest in climate change has increased significantly and will continue to grow. Meeting the growing demand for energy while ensuring that the supply is reliable, affordable, clean and low emission is both a challenge and an opportunity for our industry.
As core participants in the energy sector, we understand that utilities play a key role in achieving the targets adopted by the many governments that are parties to the Paris Agreement. Our core businesses reflect the key emerging energy trends and enable us to help our customers transition to a low-carbon economy.
At the same time, we are boosting our commitment to the fight against climate change with the aim of becoming a major player in the energy transition towards a circular, low-carbon, digital economy model through the following strategies:
To address climate change risk and to capitalise on those opportunities arising from it
Responding to the physical and transition risks of climate change
The Group is committed to reducing emissions of GHG and other air pollutants within its operations and supporting the move to a low-carbon future through innovation and adoption of the latest technology and processes alongside environmentally-friendly energy sources. We are committed to reducing our coal-fired generation installed capacity from about 53% of its total generation portfolio in 2016 to about 24% by 2023. We are on track with our decarbonisation plan and have reduced 2,890 MW of coal-fired power generation capacity since 2016. Following the coal-to-gas conversion of our Sheerness Generating Station in Canada in 2021, the Group has ended coal power generation in OECD countries with non-OECD countries following suit by 2035. As at the end of 2021, coal-fired generating facilities represented less than 5% of the Assets.
To complement the Global Methane Pledge launched at COP26, our EDL has been investing in renewable natural gas (RNG) and converts landfill gas into pipeline-quality RNG. EDL captures and extracts methane from waste gas generated from coal mines and landfills, which would otherwise be released to the atmosphere or vented. The extracted methane is then used as a fuel source for heat and power generations, avoiding significant methane emissions.
Bedsides, we are working on the following initiatives to help reduce GHG emissions:
Environmental Management System
Power Assets is implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) with an aim to contribute to the ‘environmental pillar’ of the Group’s sustainability development. This EMS serves to ensure continual environmental improvement, monitor compliance with relevant laws and regulations, fulfil supply-chain requirements, promote staff environmental awareness and increase financial savings resulting from resource saving and cost reduction. Most of our business units have their EMS which are ISO14001:2015-certified or being developed in line with ISO14001.
Opportunities in Clean Technology
Reducing the environmental impacts associated with our businesses is a strategic objective for us. Our business units have been actively investing and engaging in projects that reduce and offset carbon emissions. This includes projects on coal-to-natural gas conversion, adopting carbon capture and storage technologies, utilising design to handle biogas, hydrogen and renewable natural gas, and expanding our renewable energy portfolio.
Besides, digital technologies and smart networks play a central role in facilitating more reliable, interconnected and distributed power systems. We are implementing innovation solutions to help connect more renewable energy and enable new technologies like battery storage and virtual power plants.
Preserving Natural Environment
We are committed to protecting the environment and biodiversity, and supporting sustainable development by conducting our business in an environmentally responsible manner.
We aim to minimise the impact of our operations on the environment while addressing the global concern about climate change. We comply fully with all applicable laws and regulations and endeavour to integrate environmental considerations into all aspects of our business operations.
It is part of our Environmental Policy to protect the biodiversity and habitats in the area around our projects. We seek to minimise and mitigate the impact of our developments before we begin a project, and continuously monitor the potential impact of operating projects on biodiversity.
In addition to controlling the impacts of air and noise emissions, excessive illumination and human disturbance to plants and animals, planting programme is also in place to promote biodiversity through the cultivation of native trees and shrub species, and attract local wildlife. Our business partnered with ecological experts to assess identified sites and determine a baseline biodiversity measurement. Following each survey, a biodiversity management plan was prepared with site-specific measures to enhance the biodiversity potential.
Water is a basic and irreplaceable natural resource in many of our activities. Based on the water risk framework of the World Resources Institute's (WRI) publication on financial risks from water constraints on power generation, we currently have no production plants/sites located in water-stressed areas and our operations are considered of low risk. Despite this, we have different plans for water conservation which includes reusing wastewater and rainwater at our power stations, adopting water efficiency appliances in our premises and preserving water quality by reducing discharge. We will continue to pursue opportunities to reduce water usage across our businesses in future.
Managing Waste and Effluent
Another strategic objective of our Environmental Policy is the sound management of waste and effluent. We integrate circular thinking into business strategies through responsible raw material sourcing, efficient production processes, and product design. In order to continuously improve, we look for opportunities to implement reuse and recycle initiatives that result in net positive impacts on the environment. Approximately 99.5% of waste by weight of our gas distribution companies is excavation spoil. Spoil is excavated, segregated by type on-site and assessed for contamination. Clean spoil is sent off-site to recycling centres for processing into recycled aggregate. Contaminated soil is segregated, tested, classified and then sent to the appropriate facility for treatment and/or disposal.
Hazardous Waste Management
We are extremely careful about managing waste generated from our operations, including the by-products of energy generations. Our collective efforts to reduce waste involve our employees, contractors, suppliers, regulators and other third parties. We advocate waste reduction at the source and encourage the reuse and recycling of waste for other projects. Waste management plans have been formulated and implemented to enable recycling and reuse, and proper storage, collection, treatment and disposal of waste. Temporary wastewater storage and treatment facilities have been installed at power plant construction sites to recycle wastewater generated from bore piling work to reduce wastewater discharge. Furthermore, our power plants have been collecting generation by-products including ash and gypsum for industrial use, such as manufacturing of cement.
Reduce, Reuse, Recover and Recycle
The Group is implementing the “4R” Policy - reduce, reuse, recover and recycle materials and resources. Ash and gypsum from power plants are being collected for industrial use and the amount of excavated spoil sent to landfill are limited by using recycled aggregates rather than virgin aggregates.