Due to the nature of its operations, the water sector is the fourth most energy-intensive industry in the UK and is responsible for around 5 million tonnes of emissions every year.
Earlier this year the sector revealed details of its commitment to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2030 (this forms part of its wider Public Interest Commitments). The water sector was the first sector to make such a commitment and it is an extremely challenging target to achieve.
The sector has identified a number of ways to achieve this commitment: reducing emissions caused by wastewater treatment processes; increased energy efficiency; increasing self-generated renewables; purchasing green electricity; providing biogas to the energy grid; moving to electric-powered construction equipment; and rolling out electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
According to the Committee on Climate Change's (CCC) May 2019 report on Reaching Net Zero in the UK by 2050, the UK needs to develop a hydrogen economy to service demands for some industrial processes, for energy-dense applications in long-distance HGVs and ships, and for electricity and heating in peak periods.
This announcement from Yorkshire Water goes to the last of the opportunities identified by the water sector to reduce carbon emissions and is in line with the recommendations from the CCC. Statutory water undertakers run significant fleets of vehicles and there are a number of opportunities to decarbonise them - they are in a unique position to take advantage of alternative fuels for their vehicles because, as organisations, they are regionally based, operate in a fairly restricted locality and do not need a nationwide system of refuelling stations.
What this announcement demonstrates is the need for different sectors to work together. This example shows the water, energy and transport sectors delivering solutions which lead towards the national drive to reach Net Zero. Such collaboration is vital going forward.
Low emissions vehicle company ULEMCo has produced what is believed to be the world's first hydrogen-fuelled water tanker in partnership with Yorkshire Water.