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The Green Edge Reports Roundup, Aug-23: Part Two - Sectors
Continuing with our selection of reports and other publications from this month’s reading list.
Part Two of our crop of green reports from this months reading list. Also see Part One - General.
As usual, you can find all thes reports and more in our searchable reports list on The Green Edge Data Portal.
Technology Trends Outlook 2023.
McKinsey and Co, July 2023
Covers five main technology trends: AI, engineering, digital, computing and connectivity, and sustainability. On the skills and talent side there is a clear message: generally a shortage and a constraint on growth but for renewables there is a notional surplus based on the supply – demand ratio.
Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, August 2023
Not an area that gets great coverage, but the 24 sources of biomass are important in generating electricity (59% of use), heat (21%), and transport (16%). In reading this document several things strike us: the complexity of making progress due to inter-dependencies with other strategies (11 listed, pp. 13-14), the equal complexity of feedstock-end use sectors (see the Sankey diagram 5.3), and interplay with CCUS/BECCS. Skills only get one mention, and this needs to be tackled to ensure we can see what the workforce constraints might be.
Carbon Capture and Storage
A remarkable new infrastructure system. Opportunities for economic growth in the UK’s carbon capture and storage industry.
ARUP for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, July 2023
Focuses on the high value opportunities and finds that the skills heritage of the oil and gas industry provides a significant advantage - but overall skills will probably create a constraint unless action is taken very early. We also learn, and what we have seen elsewhere, there is a very distinct geography to CCUS which form a series of clusters which will be very significant capital programmes and high skills employers into the future.
The Clean Growth Gap. How low carbon energy investment can transform the UK.
Oxford Economics for Energy UK, July 2023
A timely piece of work tracking investment growth rates and per capita investment levels across the eight leading world economies. A simple message: the UK is not keeping pace with others and if the UK is to capitalise on the direct and wider growth opportunities and high-quality employment, investment needs to flow and be fully supported by consistent national policies and approaches. What isn’t so clear to us are two things: can the gap be closed and removed? And what is the employment growth potential lost be acting more slowly than other countries?
Gotta get through this. Energy bills this winter.
Resolution Foundation, August 2023
Turn the pages of this brief note to Figure 3 (the number of fabric energy efficiency measures installed through Government schemes in the UK). A simple message: insulation rates have fallen even further (if this were possible) and compares badly to other countries’ schemes e.g. a French national scheme is hitting 370,000 home per year and doubling by 2030. Insulation is a key part of domestic decarbonisation, has a quick return, and is something that can individuals can be trained in quite quickly.
Energy Efficient Scotland Transition Programme Survey Evaluation
Scottish Government, 2022
Understanding how consumers and the users of energy efficiency advice respond and act is very important, and this survey evaluation of 490 consumers is very useful in this regard. We need to learn the best ways to engage, communicate and advise consumers (citizens) to make the difficult set of decisions to achieve net zero at home. We need to see policy being built on these types of evaluation.
The Impact of Industry Transition on a CO2 neutral European Energy System
EU, August 2023
A useful directional report in that it shows through using the METIS simulation model that industry (responsible for 20% of emissions) can be 95% decarbonised by 2050. Showing that major change is possible in steel, in cement, in chemicals etc. is important. It assumes we retain the bulk of our chemicals industry, and a further offshoring of some production could change the requirement for hydrogen by quite a large margin. For the strategic skills thinkers, it means there is a clear direction of travel and clear options.
South Africa Market Assessment for Smart Energy Business Models
Energy Systems Catapult, 2022
A thorough and well-presented assessment of opportunities for UK-based innovators and for suppliers and products of services to support the transition in South Africa towards net zero – from a base heavily dominated by coal (75%). Commercial opportunities for UK-based businesses are huge during the net zero transition, and they can be a key driver for secure, high quality green jobs. It would be good to see the export potential for the UK in selling net zero transition products and services, and the employment levels they could support.
Integrating Higher Share of Variable Renewable Energy in India
Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, Ohio, USA, July 2023
Keeping track of how other countries are progressing towards net zero is a challenge, and this report covers key developments in India. Just taking two tables: Table 1 – which shows the huge growth of renewables in wind (x 2.86), solar (x 5.45), and nuclear (x 3) by 2031-32; and Table 2 – listing out the seven major energy storage projects. Simple message: India is moving fast and coping with new energy demand is coming from renewables.
Decompression: policy and regulatory options to manage the gas grid in a decarbonising UK
Regulatory Assistance Project, August 2023
While the uptake of heat pumps is starting to increase, it does mean a national gas grid will be still operating for some time to come. This grid will be required to operate and to be maintained but the number of paying users will be declining. From a skills perspective there will need to be a retention of sufficient skilled personnel to handle the gas grid as it is used today and its transition to handling hydrogen. The gas grid employs around 2,000 people in the UK.
Hybrid Power Plants/Systems
Hybrid Power Plants. Status of Operating and Proposed Plants, 2023 Edition.
Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory, August 2023
Tracks developments in the USA and is of interest to us in two main ways: it’s a great way of tracking the impact (or at least the initial signs) of the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act; and it shows how the power system is changing with the growth of hybrid operations. It would be great to have the same being done for the UK, and the whole of Europe in the same way. We know work is ongoing to collate data on all projects under the sponsorship of the Green Jobs Delivery Group, and it would be good to share this to support work being undertaken at local and regional levels.
Benefits of pairing floating solar photovoltaics with hydropower reservoirs in Europe
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Review, 2023 (171)
This study covers 337 hydropower reservoirs across the EU27 and shows the potential for combining two renewable energy sources. Sadly the study does not include the UK but one to explore, and perhaps water companies entering the energy supply market place.
Hydrogen, a less disruptive pathway for domestic heat? Exploratory findings from public perceptions research.
Cleaner Production Letters, August 2023
The debate continues with some about the use of the gas grid to carry hydrogen for domestic heating rather than installing heat pumps, and this research suggests that consumers don’t view hydrogen so positively even the disruption might be less to their homes. It is important that a series of major strategic decisions are made as regards the utility of hydrogen for the transition to net zero, and focus efforts on developing the skills and capabilities we require.
Global Offshore Wind Report 2023.
Global Wind Energy Council., August 2023
A vital document for those trying to understand the UK offshore wind developments in a global context. Here, enablers and technology developments are covered along with markets to watch and their development (the UK is not detailed as one of the 10 markets to watch). Skills and workforce development are covered (pages 39-40) and here we get an idea of the scale of the industry and its potential and longevity with long term benefits in terms of employment, job quality, and wider community gains. It will be interesting to see how those companies serving the North Sea oil and gas sector make the transition to servicing the growing renewables energy market.
2035 and Beyond. The Report Offshore Wind. Policy priorities to ensure offshore wind plays a central role in our net zero future.
Energy Innovation and University of California, Berkeley, August 2023
A useful reminder that there is a major transition between oil and gas and offshore wind (and other renewables) with 176,000 currently employed in oil and gas and an estimated 390,000 employed in offshore wind by 2050. Key messages for us: the high level of commonality between oil and gas skills and jobs, and offshore wind roles (in fact, the report draws from an example in Aberdeen), the need for standardised certification, and the need for readiness of college providers.
100% Renewable Energy for the UK
Report prepared by LUT University, Finland for 100% Renewable UK Ltd., January 2023
We wonder if we will see more reports like this over the next few years as the costs and speed of the transition to net zero stack up and Governments look for options. The option presented here is, as the title suggests, 100% renewable which proves cheaper and produces less cumulative emissions than the current plans. The scenario focuses on offshore wind with inter-annual storage (preferably methane). It also notes the costs of the transition to net zero can be further reduced if onshore wind and solar are used. Now, the scenario presented here needs to be translated into employment numbers as it if it becomes policy we need to be able to re-balance current skills development programmes.
World Energy Transitions Outlook 2023. 1.5°C Pathway.
IRENA, June 2023
Across the world. the energy transition is progressing apace but is still off track (see Table S1 which is a CCC-style table and tells the whole story on one page), and employment continues to grow rapidly (from 7.3mn in 2012 to 12.7mn in 2022). Further growth is coming, given both current capital commitments and national targets. A worrying feature of the global picture is the lack of national spread and the need for greater technology diversity which gives a key message: we need greater co-operation and collaboration even on skills which is where migration could well feature as we are seeing between India and Germany in solar.
Monetizing Energy Storage. A Toolkit to Assess Future Cost and Value.
Oxford University Press, September 2023
A fascinating and helpful book. Also well worth a visit to the website.
Heat and Retrofit
Estimating the willingness to pay for a heat pump
Nesta, March 2022
Core message: heat pumps will be installed if the price is right. Tends to suggest the rate of heat pump installations would increase if the levels of grant support were increased or a form of financial support was to be made available to home-owners and landlords. From a skills point of view we take two points here: the need for skills to design net zero policies that work at scale and at speed; and, we need to prepare equal policies to support skills development at scale too.
10 maps which will shape the UK’s green heat revolution
Centre for Net Zero/Octopus Energy, September 2021
Fascinating set of maps: the first five are interesting but the second five are really helpful covering heat networks, offshore wind and hydrogen, boiler and heat pump installers, training centres for heat pump installers (there are 31 in all noted here but there are 60 approved training centres which have access to the £5mn heat training grants, and the £8.9mn pledged funding to train retrofitters), and manufacturing hotspots (heat pumps v gas boilers). While these maps date back a couple of years, they are very instructive and would be even more helpful if they were updated and showed the throughputs of the training centres, the standards and qualifications gained, etc.
All the things I could do - financing green home upgrades. Testing options to help homeowners decarbonise.
Nesta, May 2023
Devising successful policies require know how. This report considers consumer thinking and planning, and this might change around taking key net zero decisions. This study focuses on understanding what might tip a policy into being effective around domestic decarbonisation. The key messages for us here are trust and competence. Trust for consumers in the assessment and decarbonisation energy systems plans they start with, and trust in the competence of the companies installing insulation, heat pumps, solar panels, smart systems, etc.
Energiesprong UK Performance Overview 2021/22
Energiesprong UK, 2023
Pulls together the learning across 9 schemes and 173 properties using a set of performance guarantees (outputs and standards). Useful to anyone interested in retrofit and evaluating performance standards and their delivery, and how they might be linked back into education and training programmes.
Agriculture and Food
Climate Impacts on UK Food Imports. Spotlight on the Mediterranean.
Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, August 2023
With the balance of local food production to imports lying at 54:46 and 25% of imports coming from the Mediterranean (worth £16bn) there is a real challenge to the diet of us all in the UK, both in the immediate term (shortages, costs, etc) and on a wider basis impacting the ability to access a balanced, healthy diet. This might also create a few opportunities too for growing produce in the UK but many of the items we import from the Mediterranean are impossible to grow at scale in the UK. The net result of the shortages, new supply lines, instability of supply must have employment impacts in the UK across the whole food supply chain. Perhaps the next time this report is updated an employment section will be added.
Agrivoltaics Research and Demonstration Act 2023
USA House of Congress, May 2023
Flagging here the potential of combining agriculture and solar PV, and the call for greater research to explore the benefits of their combination. Perhaps we should see a similar call in the UK for such research and a few demonstration projects.
Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme: Phase 3a Summary Report.
Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, April 2023
Two things strike us reading this report (one of many) is the scale of the Government estate, and that given its scale, there must be ways to leverage its purchasing power and drive for installations (and associated training) to benefit the wider economy, and in particular the private housing stock.
Building a Circular Economy. Learnings from the wind industry on building a sustainable supply chain.
Renewable Parts Ltd, August 2023
An indicator of the development of the circular economy and covers reverse logistics, remanufacturing at scale, redesign etc. Particularly interesting as it combines circular economy with a rapidly growing industry almost from the outset.
Circular Business Models
Forum for the Future for Unilever, 2018
A timeless piece of work, stimulating thinking as to how business models might change going forward as full circular economy principles are adopted. As always, it would be good to take these models a step further to map out the potential skills implications.
Construct Zero Performance Framework: Policy Progress Map.
Construction Leadership Council, August 2023 (version 6)
Maps policies in three areas: transport, buildings, and construction activity. Useful for anyone seeking to understand the potential drivers for skills training and delivery, and the key milestone dates.
Design Economy. People, Places and Economic Value.
Design Council, 2022
This is an important report as it captures the large and growing design economy across the UK. It’s a big sector employing 2mn and our interest lies in the changing impact of designers and their shift towards sustainability and circular design, and the competences this requires. Sadly this reports doesn’t pick this issue up but is one which is very live in the design research publications.
Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2023. Catching up with climate ambitions.
International Energy Agency, August 2023
A major review and outlook for EVs and tells us there is exponential growth, and having major energy impact. Helpfully this report also looks into the supply chain (especially batteries) and the infrastructure. Sadly skills almost get no mentions (in fact, only one) but even here the message is clear: demand for the infrastructure is growing hugely but we wonder how “future proofed” the infrastructure is when you consider the rate of development in batteries (both weight and range) and the speed of changing.
Skills for Greener Places. A Review of the UK’s Landscape Workforce.
Metro-Dynamics for the Landscape Institute, December 2022
A long overdue report covering a critical sector for net zero and wider issues. Here, landscape is defined as covering planning, design, build, management, and conservation along with investment, research, education, and policy support. It employs 334,000 people in high quality, high skills jobs and is growing strongly. As is typical of analyses of net zero it finds the usual categorisation of businesses and occupations into SIC and SOC codes - this not helpful as landscape cuts across them. It is a piece of work that would be good to be repeated on an annual basis to ensure the landscape jobs are clearly ranked alongside the high profile net zero jobs in energy, transport, construction, and agriculture.
Cross-sector carbon accounting standards research.
BSI for High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Summer 2023
Most people report on the investment and employment opportunities arising from the net zero transition as deriving from the initial phases of the transition, whereas this report takes a very helpful strategic view of the investment opportunities that arise from being a green economy (one with a net zero carbon position) as being more attractive than those that are less so. This ‘greenshoring’ of manufacturing opportunity is possibly held back by regulations and the need for common standards (575 are identified across the four focus sectors: aerospace, automotive, construction, and pharmaceuticals). So, this is a milestone report and builds on the work HVM reported on last year, and one worth tracking as it is charting the beginning of a new phase of development for manufacturing and other sectors.
Geopolitics of the Energy Transition. Critical Materials.
International Renewable Energy Association, July 2023
True, the UK is not a major mining national for critical materials (now) but this could well change for lithium. For us this report highlights two things: the supply chain risks for materials relevant to batteries; and the huge opportunity for reclamation and re-use of materials for, say, batteries. The report also puts critical materials into context: copper is worth $91bn in exports each year while petroleum is more than 10 times larger ($951bn) and gas is 3.5 times larger ($335bn), and it also worth noting that the profit margins on critical materials is very low compared to oil and gas.
We can cut petrochemicals use today: plastic packaging.
Rocky Mountain Institute, August 2023
Plastics packaging and film consumes 17% of total petrochemical intermediate products which results in 1.5% of global GHG emissions. How to make progress and reduce the use of plastics packaging? Adopt circular economy thinking, and: eliminate use; switch to reusable and multiuse materials; use a systems approach to packaging; and replace required food packaging with other materials. The plastic bag tax shows what can happen (and how we can all change our behaviours), and we are seeing these ideas being rippling through other packaging plastics use. It also says circular economy thinking and practice is becoming a core green competence.
Pedal to the Metal. It’s time to shift steel decarbonisation into high gear.
Global Energy Monitor, July 2023
Excellent on the state of play for a key sector needing to decarbonise to survive and operate into the future. One message we have taken away from this report is the need for steel (and other energy intensive industries) to master multiple aspects of energy generation, release and transmission within their own operation. All energy intensive industries have been active on energy efficiency and energy recovery for some time.
Too good to waste. Tapping the potential of vocational education and training in the waste management sectors. Policy Brief.
An excellent short briefing paper with several major messages: over 75% of new jobs in the sector will be highly skilled or skilled (42% highly skilled non manual, 11% skilled non-manual; 25.5% skilled manual; and 21.5% elementary) across 960,000 new jobs; the bulk of change in the sector will be around the redefinition of existing jobs rather than the shaping of new ones; but there will be new and emerging roles (see Figure 5, page 15) and 13 are listed here. Reinforces the message from the work of WRAP and CIWM about the waste management sector becoming a major material supplying one and the momentum behind the adoption of circular economy thinking. There are significant export opportunities arising from the technologies being used to sort and shift waste and aid materials recovery.