Climate Confident

Energising Change: The Impact of Solar and Storage on UK's Journey to Net-Zero with EDF Renewables

February 07, 2024 Tom Raftery / Matthew Boulton Season 1 Episode 156
Climate Confident
Energising Change: The Impact of Solar and Storage on UK's Journey to Net-Zero with EDF Renewables
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Show Notes Transcript

In this week's episode of the Climate Confident Podcast, I had the pleasure of conversing with Matthew Boulton, Director of Solar, Storage and Private Wire at EDF Renewables UK and Ireland. We delved into renewable energy innovation, spotlighting the  projects EDF Renewables is spearheading across the UK. From the groundbreaking Oxford Project to the ambitious Longfield Solar and Battery initiative, Matthew shed light on how these ventures are pivotal in propelling the UK towards its net-zero targets.

We explored the intricate mechanics behind connecting renewable energy sources directly to the transmission network, a leap forward in enhancing Oxford's journey to net-zero. The discussion further ventured into the Longfield project's unique position in the UK's renewable landscape, highlighting its potential to significantly contribute to the nation's green energy supply.

Matthew's insights into the replication potential of these models across other cities and sectors, including data centres and electric vehicle charging, were particularly thought-provoking. Moreover, addressing public concerns, from visual impact to food security, Matthew provided compelling arguments on how renewable projects can harmonise with local environments and communities.

As we confront the pressing timeline towards net-zero, the innovations and strategic approaches discussed in this episode underscore the urgency and feasibility of scaling up renewable energy solutions.

Join us for this episode of Climate Confident as we delve into the future of renewables with EDF Renewables UK, illuminating the path to a sustainable, low-carbon future. And don't forget to check out the video version of this episode at https://youtu.be/dgNkGm_RacY

Don't forget to subscribe and share your thoughts on how we can collectively accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Your engagement is crucial in driving forward the conversation on sustainability and climate action.



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Credits
Music credits - Intro by Joseph McDade, and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Matthew Boulton:

400 megawatts of solar is essentially 400 hectares of solar panels. So kind of that would be a two kilometer by two kilometer block. But we're not sticking two kilometer squares in the middle of the countryside. We're respecting and following the, the character of that landscape. We, we, we are, we are keeping the hedge rows intact, so it will end up being across 50 different fields and with, it'll look like a bit of a patchwork

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the Climate Confident podcast, the number one podcast showcasing best practices in climate emission reductions and removals, and I'm your host, Tom Raftery. Don't forget to click follow on this podcast in your podcast app of choice to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi everyone, welcome to episode 156 of the Climate Confident podcast. My name is Tom Raftery and before we kick off today's show, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all of this podcast's amazing supporters. Your support has been instrumental in keeping this podcast going and I'm really grateful for each and every one of you. If you're not already a supporter, I'd like to encourage you to consider joining our community of like minded individuals who are passionate about climate. Supporting the podcast is easy and affordable with options starting as low as just three euros or dollars a month. That's less than the cost of a cup of coffee, and your support can make a huge difference in keeping this show going strong. To become a supporter, you simply click on the support link in the show notes of this or any episode, or visit tinyurl. com slash climatepod. Now, without further ado, with me on the show today, I have my special guest, Matthew. Matthew, welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Matthew Boulton:

Thank you. Thank you, Tom. Thanks for having me on the show. My name's Matthew Boulton. I'm director of Solar, Storage, and Private Wire at EDF Renewables.

Tom Raftery:

Fantastic for people who might be unaware. Matthew, can you tell us a little bit about EDF Renewables?

Matthew Boulton:

So we're one of the leading renewables players, globally and, and, and in the UK clearly. We have an operating portfolio of onshore and offshore wind, of solar farms and battery storage plants. We have about one and a half gigawatts of operational assets, and expect to have 10 gigawatts of operational assets by the early 2030s.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And in terms of employees and countries you cover.

Matthew Boulton:

So in the UK we're about 600, 600 people. And we're about four and a half thousand. I think we're worldwide. Headquartered in Paris as part of the Electricité De France group. So si sister of the EDF nuclear, side as well.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, fantastic. And I came across you, Matthew. Matthew, as a consequence of the Super Hubs Oxford project that went live last year. For people but who might not have come across at that, can you give us some kind of insights on how that model is helping Oxford on its journey to net zero and you know how that could be replicated in other cities?

Matthew Boulton:

Yes, of course. So we need to explain it was the Oxford Project is an innovation project with some government innovation sponsorship behind, behind it and demonstrating innovation in three different sectors in the power, the electricity generation sector, in the transport sector, and in the heat sector. The innovations for our Oxford project were particularly around accessing power directly from the transmission network. So UK the electricity grid, bit like the circulatory system in your body, the, the arteries with other transmissions the transmission network, the really high voltage lines are run and operated by National Grid. And then the A roads, B roads, local roads are run by local companies. We were one of the first to realize you didn't need to be a massive power plant to plug directly into those arteries, into the transmission network. So in the power space, plugging a 50 megawatt battery into the transmission network was, was highly innovative. And essentially we, we had the battery project pay, not for a single plug, but for a double plug. And we, we plugged a cable into the second plug, which we ran around the outskirts of Oxford to their Redbridge Park and Ride where we have Europe's most powerful charging hub. At the moment, it has 22 ultra fast chargers, but it has the cable capacity going to it to have well over a hundred in the future as it scales up. On the heat side, the innovation was essentially translating the, the logic if you like, and the software smarts that the battery is using to trade to sell when, when electricity is in short supply and charge up when there's excess. Apply that on a micro scale, residential scale so that individual electrical heat pumps were adjusting their times of charging up and down to reduce their cost basically.

Tom Raftery:

Nice. And when you say charger, you're obviously talking about electric vehicles. So it, it's, so you're, you're charging electric vehicles and what's the, what's the advantage of having the big 50 megawatt battery there? Why not just connect to the whole thing straight to the grid?

Matthew Boulton:

So the vehicle charging is connected straight to the grid. In fact, the fact that the battery is there. It means that if, if the grid connection should be lost we can switch into island mode and we can charge the vehicles from the battery. But that is only by exception and very, very rarely. Basically the vehicles are being charged directly from the grid. It was more a question of project economics. A 50 megawatt battery is tens of millions of pounds as a total project, and it can afford to pay into seven figures for a connection to the transmission system and access to that capacity. Once that's been paid for, it's sweating that asset, making use of that valuable capacity for a second purpose, which is why the EV charging comes off. And it's the idea that the future scalability, we only need two megawatts of power today. But we can have five, 10 times that in the future as demand scales, which it has to, we're still less than, you know, 2% of vehicles on the road are electric. What happens when, when, when we are fully electric? You can't have people queuing

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. And how replicable is this project?

Matthew Boulton:

Well, very, I mean, we've already . We've already got multiple batteries in place, so we have four batteries operational and two more in construction. Three more in, in pre-construction. And all of them have been selected in locations with potential additional private wire as we call it demand. So that might, might be electric vehicles. Actually now we're also looking at data centers, data center. The data center market is expanding and it is capacity constrained. And again, this can be a way of opening up new earlier access to capacity. So we are already starting to replicate it elsewhere.

Tom Raftery:

Interesting. I coincidentally come from a data center background. So, one of the things, I was involved in the development of a data center back in 2006, 2008 in Cork in Ireland when I lived there at the time. And one of the things we proposed for our data center, and I know it's still something that the data center I was involved in developing is still thinking of doing. Is that the data center could be involved in demand side management projects and go off grid in times of high demand and sell megawatts back to the grid. Is that, is that something that anyone else is thinking about? Have you come across that idea for data centers or is that just completely Looney Tunes?

Matthew Boulton:

I've certainly come across that with refrigerated warehouses, for example, or steel factories or so I haven't . In our, in our data center discussions. I haven't got the sense that they're that open to demand variance because the sort of premiums for the services and the kind of revenue side is so, so strong. But, but may, maybe there is potential there, there's no question that demand side flexibility as a, as a theme has to be super important. We can't you know, we move to renewables. You've got the intermittency challenge. Batteries help. We can do a lot of, of smoothing and, and matching, but it's not enough. So there has to be demand side. Going back to the Oxford Project, absolutely. Micro scale of course, but that's because it was a hundred or so domestic heat pumps. But if every house has got a heat pump, if every heat pump is clever enough to adjust, its adjust its demand profile according to what supply there is on, on the grid, then that, you know, these things can have a huge difference.

Tom Raftery:

And you know, again, something I've posited in the podcast a few times is that fridge freezers, electric immersion water heaters are batteries as well. You know, can, could they be made smarter?

Matthew Boulton:

I mean, they're certainly adjustable on the demand side. I don't think they're kind of batteries in in as much as sort of being able to, but you're right, turning demand down is essentially the same as injecting power into the grid. So yes, demand side flexibility with in the future has to extend to the internet of things and household appliances. Again, it feels like it's micro demand, but when you add it all together, it's, it's a sizable chunk. It's a sizable

Tom Raftery:

Exactly. Yeah, we're getting a bit off topic, but I just, you know, it, it's, it's the idea that your, your water immersion heater, heats, you know, whenever you drain it. But in fact, if it was smart, it could be listening to, and, and well lagged, you know, it, it could be listening to the grid and then adjusting when it heats the actual water. As long as you've got hot water, when you turn the tap, you don't care when it's heated. And, and in that sense, that's why, that's why I say that it could also, you know, be smart.

Matthew Boulton:

Absolutely. And, and, and that's why this heat element to the, the Oxford Project was, was so clever really because you it also embedded the kind of property learning and understanding. So the algorithms knew, oh, in order to take advantage of that lower price two hours earlier I'm gonna need to heat the house an extra one and a half degrees.'cause I know the rate at which heat dissipates, et cetera. But it was genuinely shifting able to shift around between times of day when the heat pumps switched on to take advantage of when there was more supply.

Tom Raftery:

Nice, nice. And shifting topics. You recently received planning permission for the Longfield Solar and Battery project. What makes that project distinct and what role will it play in the UK's renewable energy landscape?

Matthew Boulton:

Well, it was only the third nationally significant infrastructure project NSIP, solar project to receive planning consent. So there's no question this, that this is a growing, a growing sector but it's still one of the early earliest through, through the doors. You know, 400 megawatts is a significant contribution. If we think the government's target of 70 gigawatts of solar by 2035, maybe 50 gigawatts of that is expected to be ground mount as opposed to rooftop domestic and in and commercial rooftop. So it's not far off 1% of that in a single, in a single project. And it's exciting because you know, that's nearly a hundred thousand homes, their annual electricity demand taken care of with a, with a single project. So I think it raises some interesting questions. People I think, jump too quickly to worry that we are carpeting the countryside. It doesn't, I mean, to give you a sense of scale. So, four, 400 megawatts of solar is essentially 400 hectares of solar panels. So kind of that would be a two kilometer by two kilometer block. But we're not sticking two kilometer squares in the middle of the countryside. We're respecting and following the, the character of that landscape. We, we, we are, we are keeping the hedge rows intact, so it will end up being across 50 different fields and with, it'll look like a bit of a patchwork because we also have to pick our way round the the fields, the better agricultural fields pick out those of lower agricultural quality, for example. But I think it is a taste of things to come.

Tom Raftery:

Interesting. It's not very sunny in the UK. Matthew,

Matthew Boulton:

Yeah. And,

Tom Raftery:

that as someone who lives in the south of Spain, so , but originally come from Ireland.

Matthew Boulton:

think, and that's why frankly the photovoltaic effect is, is this bit of magic. Even in UK daylight and sunlight, you know, that single hectare is able to cover the annual demand of 250 households. You know, I dunno what else you might plant it with, but from a sort of harvesting efficiency point of view, that seems pretty extraordinary to me. You know? Yes. If we were in south of Spain, we might get 50 or 60% more. In the absolute, if we're high in the Atacama desert, we might get twice as, twice as much. But it's not a factor. In fact, we're in cloudy UK doesn't mean we're getting 10% of what you get there. We're still getting half, and that is still highly, highly productive. The 50 gigawatts I talked about earlier, that's 50,000 hectares, you know, that is, that's, well, a lot less than half a percent of our agricultural land across the UK. So. It's, it's, it's, it's surprisingly efficient, I think, and, and a relatively small overall amount of, of land space we're talking about.

Tom Raftery:

And there is such a thing as AgriVoltaics as well. I'm not sure if you've looked into that, but you know, just because you have solar panels on a field doesn't mean that they can't be farmed as well, either with the solar panels on stilts, with crops under them or with sheep, or cattle grazing under them. I mean, they, they, they, they, they can be complimentary.

Matthew Boulton:

Well, certainly grazing is sheep, I think, rather than cattle are a bit heavy and clumsy, I think, but sheep, sheep grazing is already very common on, on solar farms across the UK and kind of yet you get natural grass cutting taken care of. A actually growing things under or in between the panels is being looked at. And as EDF, we have some interesting pilot projects already in France, and so it's certainly on our radar. At the moment the economics don't quite stack up and, and in fact with new sort of panel types tend to be packing the panels a bit more densely in, in, in those areas. But equally, it's good to recognize that the land itself that is under those panels is actually naturally enhanced because it is left fallow. There's very little disturbance by piling in the posts for solar, for solar panels. And any project has to demonstrate biodiversity net gain. So it's also what we do in the space that we're not putting under solar panels. We've we've also just gone into phase two consultation on a a big Lincolnshire project under the same NSIP scheme, you know, and it's, it's less than half the total available area that we're proposing to actually put under solar panels. And significant portion of the rest will will be subject to kind of enhancement. Replanting and additional planting strategies and obviously some of it left, left for existing ag agriculture. So, yeah, different, different ways of approaching it

Tom Raftery:

And what size is the Lincolnshire one?

Matthew Boulton:

So it is, it is bigger. It, it will depend how this phase of consultation goes. It's an 800 megawatt connection as opposed to the, the Longfield, the 400? Well, we have a 500 megawatt connection at Longfield, 400 megawatts of solar. So it'll be sort of up to, up to 800 in Lincolnshire

Tom Raftery:

And batteries in both of them?

Matthew Boulton:

Yes. And, and, and batteries in both. I mean, clearly batteries take only a tiny proportion of, of the land. So if we were to have a 500 megawatt battery that would be, you know, 10 or 15 hectares. So relatively, relatively small. But I think we have to see renewables and, and battery storage as going, as going hand in hand in hand, right? We whatever progress we make on demand side flexibility, we need some supply, additional supply side flexibility as well. You can't control when the sun shines, when the wind blows. And batteries can help move that around to the, between times of day at least.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. And I mean, when I'm looking at projects in the likes of Australia, you know, sometimes they'll have a, two hour battery, sometimes a four hour battery. So a four hour battery for a 400 megawatt site would be a 1.6 gigawatt battery. But it sounds like if you're talking 500, you're talking about a one hour battery kind of thing.

Matthew Boulton:

Sorry. So I was just talking about the power rating. So the megawatts rather than the megawatt hours. At, at the moment we are, we are assuming a two hour battery. I mean the expectation is over time that we'll inch, inch up, three hours maybe, maybe four hours. But the timescales for these projects we're assuming it would be two hour, two hour batteries.

Tom Raftery:

And it, it all depends on the economics as well, I guess.

Matthew Boulton:

Yep. Yes. I mean, I think in some of the particularly US projects as well, for example, where the batteries are often wrapped together with the solar under as kind of scheme from the utility company itself. And they're often, that will be four or six hour batteries very specifically to move, to move the solar around. In our projects, the solar is operating, the battery is operating, the battery is there directly connected to the grid, providing services to the grid. It's not purely providing a route for the solar we are generating on site. It is, it's sharing that grid connection and providing complimentary services.

Tom Raftery:

Okay. Sure, sure, sure. What of, what about with these NSIP projects, you know, public concerns from like visual impact and food security? How, how are you addressing those and you, you talked about the consultation project that's going on, or process that's going out at the moment for the Lincolnshire one, you know, how's all that working out?

Matthew Boulton:

Yeah, so for these big projects, we tend to do two phases of consultation. So by law you're required to do the second phase that we've just announced for Lincolnshire. We did a previous kind of preliminary phase back in the summer, particularly targeted at those residents most closest, closest to it. So yes, I think, you know, visual impact is clearly a concern and fully understand that. I mean, again, I think people sometimes overestimate or, or misunderstand the the kind of the kit that's actually involved and the impact it has if you're on pretty flat land, which we tend to be, 'cause that's makes it easier to build very little of a solar farm extends above three meters high. And if you've got pretty, pretty decent hedge rows and stuff and it's flat land, you, you, you often don't even know it's there. And part of clearly a part of an important part of the site development is to understand those screening possibilities in which let's say within the overall parcel, which bits lend themselves to easier screening? You know, there's already more screening, and then how, how you enhance that. I think food security comes up a lot and it slightly surprises me. I think, again, I, I think. I talked earlier about the scale of what solar means, so I think people may overestimate, you know, how much of this stuff we're act, we're actually talking about? Say it's less than half a percent of agricultural land. I think as well it makes sense to try and link in people's mind food security to decarbonization. If we don't find ways to stop burning fossil fuels globally, we're gonna have much bigger impacts on our, on our food yields. That's, that's for sure. People worry about noise, but again, those concerns tend to dissipate once they find out more. I mean, solar farms, they are very, they are very, very quiet. It's the beauty of the things that there's no real moving parts. The battery, the batteries invert, you know, slightly more hum if you like. But again, they're smaller spaces and we tend to be able to kinda make sure those are more secluded. People, when you're taking up that much space, the chances are you are impacting footpaths, for example. So we won't, we won't shut paths off. But your dog walks not quite the same if you're walking through a, a kind of channel and you've got solar panels either side. But we, we tend, part of what we do in the kind of remaining land areas is to try and open up new sort of permissive paths, landowner, volunteered paths to provide some alternative, alternative routes if you like. And then I guess construction,

Tom Raftery:

Mm.

Matthew Boulton:

Construction disruption. Again, we, we try and choose sites with decent access and make sure the construction compounds are reasonably close to to, to mainish roads. So yeah, those are the main ones that come up.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, personally, if I was walking my dog, I'd love to be able to go through a field of solar panels, but that's just me.

Matthew Boulton:

I, well, I think that's part of our challenge right, is, is to, to get people to embrace the positive side behind this. And as I say, the kind of, it's a slightly magical effect. The idea you can put sheets of lay sheets of glass out quietly in the, in the countryside and they can produce that much energy is, is, is extraordinary for me. That's a, there aren't many ways you can take care of 250 households, many dimensions in, in a single hectare. It's very productive.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. Yeah. And as you say, if, if the, if the ground under it is being left fallow and you're increasing biodiversity in the area as well, that's gotta be a huge positive for the neighbors around it, rather than, you know, if it was a coal-fired power plant, for example, , or an oil or some, some other horrible fossil fuel project.

Matthew Boulton:

Absolutely. I mean now by by law any such project has to demonstrate a 10% biodiversity net gain, but we'd certainly look to clear, clear that comfortably. Our Longfield project is well over 50% biodiversity, biodiversity net, net gain. I think the other angle is also, you know, there should, there is scope and there should be some community benefit. You are impacting their environment to a, to a degree. And so on our Lincolnshire project, we're, we're committing to a a 400 pounds per megawatt per per year contribution to a community fund that the community would then decide how best to, to deploy. Obviously we hope it's in green related areas. We particularly hope it might, it might be in kind of skills and training areas because the Green Revolution should, we know we haven't got the existing electrical and construction skills. So we, we need to build those. So there should be some great opportunities for, for local youngsters thinking about careers to join and, and we're hoping, you know, if you've, if it were an 800 megawatt project, that'd be three, 320,000 pounds a year into such a fund, you can do some quite interesting stuff with, with that at a local level.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, that'd be amazing. Amazing. Obviously batteries aren't the only grid storage solution. We've talked a little bit about demand side management. Is, is that, you know, being rolled out as well with the solar or is that just with the super hubs or are there other demand side management things you're looking at?

Matthew Boulton:

So the, the heat angle was quite specific to the Oxford project and as much it was more trying to leverage the logic behind the trading batteries into that space, you clearly for domestic heat purposes, you don't need the kind of electrical connections we are dealing with for these, for these big, big projects. But we are definitely hoping to extend some demand side activity to these projects, whether that be data centers, whether that be ev charging stations, because again, how great if that electricity that's being generated in the field is, is being consumed immediately next door by that data center or, or, or by that ev, by that EV charging station. So we definitely want these to evolve into hubs with a demand dimension as well.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, interesting. I had a woman on the podcast a few weeks back called Sabine Erlinghagen, CEO of Siemens Smart Grid Infrastructure, and one of the points that she brought up at the time was how the grid is actually at the moment kind of a bottleneck for the rollout of a lot of these renewable energy projects and you know, how Siemens are helping companies get more from their grids, increase their capacity without having to increase the infrastructure. But the, the point I'm getting to is, that's all well and good, but you know, I'm sure over time I'm, I'm hoping over time that will improve. What happens though, when you've got 50 to 70 gigawatts of solar and it's a sunny day and demand is low, you know, what happens to the grid in that kind of scenario when there's far too much energy being produced?

Matthew Boulton:

Two interesting quite different challenges there. So taking the second one first I mean, if you, at the moment we have a, a grid that what averages? 30 35, 4 40. 40 gigawatts. So 70 gigawatts of so, you know, of solar won't often be producing at max output, but there will be, you know, bright summer days. But by the time that's happening, we're also expecting our total demand to have increased significantly. Yes. That by the time we electrify transport, by the time we electrify heat, you know, let's see how, what, what role green hydrogen has to play and how much electricity that needs to generate. We're gonna be talking at least double, maybe triple current levels. So it's a, a bigger baseline. You are, you are hitting. But I think a lot of it is gonna come down to those, some of those demand side signals. I think there's an interesting angle in there as well, whether, you know, already companies. Some of the big companies have been quite progressive in committing to you know, zero carbon consumption. But the way that's managed at the moment is essentially on a kind of annual reconciliation basis. You see how many megawatt hours you've consumed across your, across your operations, and then you make sure you've purchased a corresponding number of clean megawatt hour certificates from solar farms or wind farms. And, and if the numbers match up for the year, you can just declare yourself clean. But I think increasingly down the road, we're gonna be needing people to hold themselves to a slightly more sophisticated measure where, where, where certificates are being matched on a, on an hourly basis, so that you are actually, as you are consuming, you know where it's coming from and you've, and you, you've paid for the privilege of having that green. So I, I, that's what I'd say on, on, on the kind of the, the demand side and, and, and how to, how to make use of their 70 gigawatts of solar. But going back to your comments on Sabine from Siemens and, and, and the grid concerns, you know, AB Absolutely. And to a degree that sort of was the starting point again for that Oxford project. We are, you know, we, we have a grid, which was world leading in the 1950s, , but it was designed for a very different world where one and a half kilowatts was enough for every house. So, you know, massive investment is gonna be needed. There was a very interesting and good, I thought Windsor report came out recently challenging National Grid, but government and Ofgem really to take a more strategic view of how to invest in grid. It's all quite piecemeal at, at the moment. But in the meantime, we need to sweat the grid that we have as cleverly as we can, and that's exactly what we are trying to do with these, with these energy hubs

Tom Raftery:

Cool. And looking to the, the, the future Matthew what are some of the innovative approaches EDF renewables is exploring in upcoming projects to further advance the UK's low carbon electricity network.

Matthew Boulton:

I look after the, the solar and storage and, and private wire space. So I think we, we would say we are leading in the innovation in that space. Now the challenge is, is to kind of accelerate the replication. I think yes, we're very interested as well in how to solve some of the longer duration challenges that the lithium batteries we use at the moment are suitable for time of day shifting, but they're not gonna provide day's worth of storage. So that is, a dimension we are very much exploring and, and, and, and wanting to find solutions for. We are interested in hydrogen. We've just got our first hydrogen project getting under, getting underway. So I think those, those are the the areas in kind of new new tech where we're we are looking. But I think a lot of it also we think is on the the kind of business model side and, and, and the kind of energy hub, how you can integrate different aspects of supply and demand to, to use things more efficiently and more cleverly

Tom Raftery:

Okay, cool, cool. And of course, you know, smarter energy isn't just about technology.. Can you talk a little bit about potential economic and social impacts like job creation, cost savings and things like that, that are associated with renewable energy projects?

Matthew Boulton:

Yeah, so I mean, I think from a cost saving point of view, clearly the context of the last couple of years have shown what how disruptable, the kind of fossil fuel markets are, if you like. Once you have a renewables based grid, you simply don't have the same volatility on the supply, on the supply side. And, and the costs are already very competitive, right? The costs of new build onshore wind or solar per megawatt hour are certainly lower than the costs of new build CCGT, were you to go down that road. On the job creation front, I think there's a fascinating challenge and I tried to touch on earlier. I think with some of these big projects we've got and where we have community funds we are looking to deploy, we really need to be maximizing the opportunity for, for skills building. The, the amount of grid investment required as well as the amount of renewable assets are gonna be built. So the amount of electrical skilled electricians we're gonna need is, is way higher than we've got at the moment. We're not even close to being on trajectory for that. So, and that's, that's above my pay grade. That's a kind of national strategic challenge we have, we have to address, but it's not just electricians, right? I mean, there's, these are construction projects. There's a whole, whole supply chain of construction related jobs we should be looking to build. Historically in the solar sector, we tended to sort of import that expertise from the continent because they, they had already done lots of this stuff. Clearly it's a bit more difficult to do that now, just post Brexit and, and visa wise. And why would we? Why wouldn't we be looking to, to build those internal supply chains and competencies

Tom Raftery:

Sure.

Matthew Boulton:

how much stuff we're gonna be building on our shores?

Tom Raftery:

Nice. Nice. We're coming towards the end of the podcast now, Matthew. Is there any question I haven't asked that you wish I had or any aspect of this we haven't touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of?

Matthew Boulton:

I know you told me you were gonna ask me that and I, for forgot, I've forgotten that was coming. So let me just have a Maybe not a question, but if you just sort of let me share one parting reflection. I think just going back to these, these big solar projects, I just like people to allow themselves to maybe get a little bit excited that we are able to do this at the scale and speed because the clock is ticking. Net zero is not a, it's not a 2050 deadline. It's, it's a carbon budget. And every year that we don't make enough progress actually brings that deadline forward. So I think these big projects whilst they may look a bit scary from the outside, really should be welcomed as significant steps on that road to net zero.

Tom Raftery:

Great. Super fantastic. Matthew, if people would like to know more about yourself or any of the things we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?

Matthew Boulton:

So please go, just look up EDF renewables online or if the, it was the Oxford stuff that piqued your interest, look up Energy Super Hub Oxford, or if it was the solar projects, then look up Springwell, Solar Farm or Longfield Solar Farm on the web.

Tom Raftery:

Super great. Fascinating. Matthew, that's been really interesting. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Matthew Boulton:

Thank you so much for having me, Tom.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about the Climate Confident podcast, feel free to drop me an email to tomraftery at outlook. com or message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you like the show, please don't forget to click follow on it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks. Catch you all next time.

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