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WPD puts climate change resilience and reducing carbon impact at heart of new innovation projects

Evaluating the impact of climate change on the electricity network and improving the carbon impact of network assets are the two aims of our latest innovation projects ACCELERATED and ALPACA.

ACCELERATED (Assessment of Climate Change Event Likelihood Embedded in Risk Assessment Targeting Electricity Distribution) aims to use climate change modelling in order to establish an up-to-date understanding of its potential impacts on the performance and functionality of WPD’s assets.

Firstly, the project will look at the historic impact of climate change on the WPD network. Working with Newcastle University and GHD, modellers will work to discover how extreme weather has impacted WPD’s assets and their performance over the years. 

The project team will then use climate change modelling to project how the frequency and severity of those events will change in the future, their potential impact and what adaptations need to be considered to ensure that asset life is preserved and the impact to customer delivery is unaffected.

The Infrastructure Carbon Review recently showed that infrastructure is associated with over half of UK greenhouse gas emissions, 30% of which are directly attributed to the construction, operation and maintenance of infrastructure assets. ALPACA (Approach for Long-term Planning Accounting for Carbon Assessment), will look at the whole life carbon emissions of WPD’s network assets, helping  DNOs to identify the most carbon-intensive activities on the network, allowing them to consider and implement targeted carbon reduction measures. 

The first of its kind project will see us become the first DNO in the country to set up whole life carbon assessments for its activities. We are working with AECOM as part of the project, with SP Energy Networks reviewing the approach.

It is hoped that both projects will lead to the development of standardised processes of identifying the whole life carbon emissions of DNO assets and the impacts of climate change on electricity networks. Both projects are scheduled to be completed in early 2023.

Commenting on the two projects, WPD Innovation Engineer Liza Troshka said: “Climate change poses a significant risk for DNOs such as WPD where we plan and operate assets with a life span of over 40 years. These two new projects will give us the knowledge to implement targeted carbon reduction measures across our network and prepare ahead of time for the impact of climate change. We hope to be in a position to proactively consider adaptation measures so that our assets are both able to withstand adverse weather conditions in the years to come and are safer for the environment, reducing our carbon footprint.”

WPD has set a number of new, ambitious sustainability initiatives in its RIIO-ED2 Business Plan, including the commitment to become a net zero business by 2028 - 22 years ahead of the UK and Welsh Government target.

Other measures in the Plan include:

Replacing at least 89% of the existing operational vehicle fleet with EVs by 2028
Cutting carbon emissions from the operational fleet by 50%
Reducing business travel by encouraging more remote working and virtual meetings.

Its target to cut carbon emissions has been officially verified by the United Nations Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) and aligns to the international target to limit global warming to 1.5°C or lower. Sustainability is one of the key priority areas highlighted in WPD’s Business Plan, alongside connectability, affordability and vulnerability.

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  • Innovation