Northern Gas Networks: Engaging local people with the green transition - watch free webinar

The G7 meeting in Cornwall last week underscored global leaders’ commitment to tackling climate change alongside the other huge challenge of our generation, the Covid pandemic.

Northern Gas Networks is delivering on a clear plan to transition to a Net Zero carbon gas network by 2050

But high-level political discussions like these can often seem all too remote from the lives of ordinary people, writes Mark Horsley, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Gas Networks.

At NGN, we’re delivering on a clear plan to transition to a Net Zero carbon gas network by 2050, and we want to get the communities we serve involved.

There is huge potential for Yorkshire to be a centre of excellence, creating jobs and attracting inward investment in a green economy.

WATCH LIVE: With a panel of experts, including representatives from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and NatWest, we’re hosting a free live Roundtable webinar alongside The Yorkshire Post to discuss all this on Wednesday, June 23, at 1.30pm. Join in with comments and watch live on The Yorkshire Post Facebook page - CLICK HERE.

We’ve already upgraded three quarters of our pipework from metallic mains to polyethylene.

This brings two major carbon cutting benefits: it creates a hydrogen-ready gas network in the North; and makes an immediate impact on carbon targets by reducing emissions from the day-to-day operation of the network.

We wanted to give people the opportunity to help with this transition by investing directly into the next phase of our pipe replacement programme.

We want to get the communities we serve involved.

We did this by partnering up with the UK’s leading ethical investment crowdfunding platform, Abundance Investment, who have already helped businesses and local authorities raise over £112 million from ordinary people to finance green and sustainable infrastructure.

Working with Abundance, we’re the first regulated energy distribution company to launch a green bond exclusively for retail investors.

We’re very pleased with the positive response to the bond, not only from the homes and businesses we serve across the North East, northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire, but also from the rest of the UK.

We launched the green transition bond in March, and as we approach the investment close at the end of June, we’ve already raised 85% of our £ one million target, a great result. So if you’d like to get involved, there’s not much time left.

There is huge potential for Yorkshire to be a centre of excellence

The bond offers a lower-risk, long term investment with returns of 1.6% per annum over a 10-year term. The minimum investment is just £5 –Abundance calls it ‘democratic finance’ – and it can be held in an ISA or pension.

Increasingly green finance is being recognised as a powerful way for anyone to have a direct impact on climate change. In the words of Abundance’s managing director, Bruce Davis, “Society is waking up to the power finance has over our lives and is demanding some of that power back.”

NGN’s bond provides a means by which we can engage with each other on the energy transition, build trust and create a roadmap to Net Zero that feels like a just transition for all.

Whilst focus in the energy sector is often placed on how energy generation must change, the networks that distribute our energy must change too. A third of UK carbon emissions come from heating our homes and businesses, posing a big challenge for decarbonisation.

With 8 out of 10 UK homes currently heated with natural gas, the option of piping in hydrogen as an alternative heating fuel therefore offers exciting potential for the transition to Net Zero.

Working in collaboration with our regulator, Ofgem, central government and the energy industry across the UK, NGN’s research is proving that hydrogen offers a safe, affordable and deliverable Net Zero solution.

Repurposing the gas network to transport hydrogen is likely to be the least disruptive and most cost-effective solution to zero carbon home heating for the vast majority of UK homes.

The investment raised by the bond will help replace a further 2,900 km of pipes by 2026, reducing emissions by another 24 per cent, saving over 900,000 tonnes of CO2 in total.

We’ll take a closer look at how we finance a transition to Net Zero and the exciting opportunities it presents for our region.

To find out more about the Green Transition Bond visit www.abundanceinvestment.com/northern-gas-networks.

As with all investments your capital is at risk when you invest in this bond. Investments are long term and may not be readily realisable. More information is available in the investment offer document.