Hayden Wood, co-founder and CEO, Bulb Countdown to COP, Energy retail, Low-carbon generation, Policy & regulation, Interviews, Bulb

The co-founder and chief executive of energy retailer Bulb talks about the need for utilities to show the kind of co-operation seen in other industries in order to accelerate progress on decarbonisation. As part of our Countdown to COP campaign, he also addresses the challenge of ensuring a just transition.

What opportunities does COP26 represent for the utilities sector, and how can we capitalise on them?

We have a huge opportunity to show global leadership this year, with all eyes on COP26 in November. And we should show leadership by making bold climate commitments, measuring and reporting on our own emissions, and helping consumers make greener choices.

COP26 allows us to show the rest of the world the progress we’ve already made, such as the huge growth in renewable energy in the UK. We can also showcase green technology across the utilities sector; promote the UK as a destination for green investment; and create highly skilled green jobs, particularly in areas of the UK that need them most.

What does the UK need to achieve in the next nine months to present itself as a world leader in tackling climate change? What role can utilities play in that?

We’ve made a great start by setting out ambitious targets and plans, like the government’s Energy White Paper, 10 Point Plan and nationally defined contribution. In the utilities sector we can help make these plans a reality. At Bulb we’re providing renewable energy to our 1.7 million members and developing new smart technology to help people save energy. Our sector has an important role to play, whether it’s decarbonising our own businesses, accelerating the roll out of heat pumps, or helping consumers make greener choices. But we can’t do it alone, so it’s essential that the government puts policies and incentives in place to help us succeed.

Where do you see further opportunities for pan-utilities co-operation on the path to decarbonisation?

We’re seeing innovation and change across the sector, but the only way we’ll decarbonise our industries is if we work together to accelerate progress. We’ve seen this type of success in other industries when companies work together to solve a clear challenge, like in aviation, through the Jet Zero initiative.

Through our industry bodies, we can work together to make bold commitments and collaborate on net zero strategies and plans.

What is your principle ask of the government and/or regulators to unlock the sector’s potential to accelerate the green transition?

The transition to net zero must be fair and affordable for everyone, and we need policies that support that. To lower bills and carbon emissions, we need to electrify the way we travel and the way we heat our homes. But right now electricity is more expensive than gas, and that’s partly because electricity is taxed more. It’s crazy that we’re taxing greener options instead of moving these costs to gas bills. We need to make green electricity cheaper and help more people afford green technology like heat pumps, which are crucial to lowering carbon emissions and reaching net zero. We need to make sure that people aren’t left behind.

How can utilities help to encourage all consumers to be more active participants in the net-zero journey?

To achieve net zero we’ll need millions of customers to change their behaviour, switch to electric cars and retrofit their homes. New technologies will play a crucial role. Around 30 to 50% of an individual’s carbon footprint comes from the way their home is powered. So there’s a huge opportunity to help the UK economy decrease its carbon impact by increasing access to affordable, greener energy, and smart, low-carbon energy solutions.

At Bulb we’re creating the technology that will help people save money, reduce carbon emissions and reach net zero. We’re building leading EV products and battery technology and installing smart meters to help our members take control of their energy usage, save money, and lower their carbon emissions.