Energy, Environment & Sustainability Forum Blog

Leading the charge to net zero emissions by 2050

A blog by Dr Scott Elliott

Chair of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Energy, Environment & Sustainability Forum

There is, and can only be, one focus of the Energy, Environment & Sustainability Forum, and that is Staffordshire’s contribution the UK ending its contribution to global warming by 2050.

The UK became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to achieve net zero carbon emissions back in June 2019 and we believe the opportunities that this creates can have only positive consequences for Staffordshire.

Work is well underway on Stoke-on-Trent’s District Heat Network. There is the potential for the utilisation of geothermal energy under the city at depths of up to 3km and through shallower groundwater sources within former coalmining areas. It seems ironic that our energy source of the past could help us in decarbonising the heat required to power our city for the future.

The Chamber has a keen interest in developing the skillset required to install and operate District Heating networks and are working with the Heat Academy to look at running a series of joint events with them to help businesses profit and benefit from opportunities in the design, installation, management, and maintenance of the District Heat Network and to provide apprenticeships and work-related training.

Stoke-on-Trent is currently ahead of the game on District Heat networks and with hundreds appearing across the UK it is important it stays that way so that we can profit from our expertise.

The use of hydrogen as a source of heat and a fuel for transport is set to grow exponentially creating opportunities in creation, storage, and distribution networks and the forum is working to capitalise on the HyDeploy hydrogen project based at Keele University.

The first phase of HyDeploy was to run a live test of blended hydrogen and natural gas (methane) on part of the private gas network at Keele University campus. HyDeploy is the first project in the UK to inject hydrogen into a natural gas network and the next two phases are concerned with a move to a larger demonstration on a public network in the North West. More details here:

We have representation from both, Staffordshire and Keele Universities on the forum which adds a great crossflow of academic and business views and ideas.

We are also delighted to welcome new Chamber patron, ENGIE to the forum. ENGIE are combining their capabilities in energy, services, and regeneration, to transform the former coal fired Rugeley Power Station site into an entirely new sustainable and smart community.

The planned mixed used development has the potential to include more than 2,000 new low carbon homes, including later living communities, as well as a substantial number of commercial buildings. ENGIE is targeting that a minimum of 30 percent of the new homes created on the site will constitute affordable housing. Once redeveloped, the Rugeley site could be entirely maintained

by green/renewable energy, up to 50 percent of which could be generated on site. More information:

On transport, the forum is monitoring local initiatives to hasten the move from fossil fuels to electric and hydrogen fuels. We need many more vehicle charging points across the county and the forum will be working alongside the LEP to facilitate the creation of EV charging parks at appropriate strategic locations.

I have given a flavour of the myriad opportunities that can come from the race to net zero by 2050. Other big issues are the increasing importance of Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of an organisation.

And did I mention COP26, Glasgow in November and UN Sustainable Development Goals? I will save them for my next blog!

If you would like to find out more about what we do or are considering joining the Energy, environment & Sustainability Forum, email Vicki Hardie:

If you want to talk about any business issues, you can call the Chambers switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

To join the Forum discussion click here Hot Topics — Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

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