Event round-up: Creating a climate technology hub for London at Earls Court
Last Wednesday evening, November 1st, The Earls Court Development Company partnered with techUK to explore how London can become a leading hub in climate technology. This was an evening filled with insight and discussion. It involved an expert panel chaired by The Guardian’s Environment Editor Fiona Harvey and including The Earls Court Development Company’s Head of Urban Futures Peter Runacres, London & Partner's CEO Laura Citron, Octopus Energy's Director of Strategy & Partnerships Michael Cottrell, techUK's Associate Director for Climate, Environment and Sustainability Craig Melson.
Future vision for the 40-acre site in Earls Court
Opening the evening, we heard from Peter Runacres on the future vision for the 40-acre site in Earls Court, West London. Innovation and sustainability are at the centre of all plans. The proposals will see the area transformed into a thriving new community and a UK home for the climate tech sector. At its core, and as Peter outlined, the plan is to build somewhere that London, and the UK, can be proud of. A place that stands the test of time and brings new opportunity to the area towards a more resilient Earls Court.
The opportunity for a climate tech hub
Discussion from the expert panel revolved around the opportunity for the Earls Court site as a climate tech hub. This included the value in clustering, and how to turn this business cluster into a vision for the future. Points raised on this included ensuring that this cluster captures the value of climate tech and collaborates with existing business clusters.
The need for the right infrastructure to support the net zero vision was raised by all panellists. Including, a focus on the scale and commercial models to support this. Key points raised included the need for increased demand for the grid with the move towards electrification and increased renewables within the system, along with the need for the accelerated support in the uptake for Electric Vehicles (EVs), including the roll out of EV charging points.
Another key point raised was the skills, and skills support system, needed to support the journey to net zero, along with the Earls Court Development Company's clean tech vision. This includes looking at the skills pathways that currently exist, and the training centres needed to meet demand. Along with adapting the education system to deliver technologies towards reaching net zero. Vitally, not just thinking about the roles typically associated with 'clean tech', but also people across the organisation that need to be brought along the net zero journey. The ambition for the Earls Court Development Company is for up to 15,000 jobs to be created with the development becoming a research and development hub for green tech, attracting businesses which have a role in transforming our future by responding to the climate crisis.
Bringing together a net zero infrastructure system is clear in the Earls Court Development’s vision. For instance, with their aspiration for the development to incorporate the first large scale Zero Carbon energy sharing network in the UK, enabling local people to benefit from cost effective heat networks.
Panellists touched on the challenges towards reaching net zero goals, and the role that climate tech can play in the net zero ambition. While it was clear that there is a key role for industry to play, there is also a role for government. For instance, to create a long-term vision that drives investment into the UK’s growing climate tech sector, and into developments such as Earls Court. Indeed, the need for consistency, clarity, certainty was echoed by all panellists. Mentions of the US' Inflation Reduction Act and the EU's Green Deal Industrial Plan to create market incentives was echoed by the panel. All panellists made clear that the UK government must respond to seize the opportunity that climate tech can bring.
At techUK, we know that there is a huge opportunity to use tech to decarbonise sectors, and a huge role for the tech sector to play for businesses to reach net zero goals. By 2030, digital technology has the potential to cut global emissions by 15%. We were delighted to be involved in this event showcasing the role of technology, and collaboration towards climate action.
The discussion ended with an outline of how we can leverage London's world-leading reputation for innovation, research, and development in these technologies. Indeed, a point was raised on the opportunity for London to become the Silicon Valley for the climate sector, with Earls Court playing a key role in this.
Images from the Project Rooms, Earls Court.
Written by Mia Haffety, Programme Manager - Telecoms and Net Zero. Contact, [email protected]
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