Today the UK Government Department for Business Innovation & Skills and the Prince of Wales’s UK Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (a leader group of the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership) launched a trio of public-private procurement compacts at the Royal Society in Westminster.
The Down to Zero Procurement Compacts are an invitation to suppliers of all sizes, particularly SMEs, demonstrating that there is a coordinated and willing market demand for low-to-zero carbon solutions at a competitive cost. Procurements account for a third of Government spending and their value cannot be overstated. Members of Down to Zero include EDF Energy, Anglian Water, BSkyB, BT, Johnson Matthey, DECC and Defra, amongst others. To begin with the initiative has produced the following compacts:
This Procurement Compact articulates a market demand for vehicles that can provide a clear path to zero carbon emissions, while meeting our needs for rapid refuelling times and long range. In doing so, we hope to support the investment by suppliers to develop the vehicles, the fuel, and fuelling infrastructure required.
This Procurement Compact articulates a market demand for renewable biomethane that can be used to generate cost-effective heat or power in urban buildings remote from biomethane generation.
This Procurement Compact articulates a market demand for progressively lower-carbon catering goods and services. We wish to initiate a dialogue with the supply chain and other stakeholders on how carbon emissions resulting from manufacture, supply and operation of catering services can be progressively reduced in future contracts.
At the launch the Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Lord Sainsbury, and Neil Carson, CEO of Johnson Matthey, all spoke of the need for members of the low carbon supply chain to come forward, and explained the broad aim of the procurement compacts: to remove the market interest risk for suppliers by providing a unified demand for their solutions. Lord Sainsbury further added that procurements must be made simple and compelling, otherwise procurement officers will return to choosing the cheapest and easiest option. As the official compacts document explains:
There is a common ‘catch-22’ that hampers the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies: mitigating climate change requires new goods and services that are not yet commercially available or only available at excessive cost. Because they are not available, customers don’t ask for them; and because there is no demand, companies who try to innovate don’t have the grounds for new investment.
The opportunities for fuel cell distributors, manufacturers and integrators within these compacts are numerous. The requirements of the Low to Zero Carbon Transport Compact draw direct parallels with the properties of fuel cell vehicles particularly in the requirements of rapid refuelling and long ranges, disqualifying pure battery electric solutions. Heat and Power from Renewable Biomethane seeks to distribute a low-carbon fuel through the existing UK gas network; fuel cell CHP (combined heat and power) systems offer the highest efficiencies in processing this fuel with low-to-zero end-use emissions. Towards Zero Carbon Catering is broad in its scope and its signatories are looking for progressive low carbon solutions across the entire spectrum of food provision. Fuel cell forklifts in food distribution warehouses and fuel cells to power refrigeration in chilled delivery vehicles are just two examples of how fuel cells can help to meet this demand.
For more information please visit the Down to Zero website, where you can download the procurement compacts and express your interest in contributing.
Image: Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP addressing the Royal Society at the launch of Down to Zero (Source: Jonathan Wing/Fuel Cell Today)