How we’re helping to clear the air

The biggest threat to human health is air pollution

The climate emergency may have dominated the headlines in 2019 but the problems our towns and cities face from air pollution is as important a public health issue.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to human health worldwide, and Public Health England confirms it’s the biggest problem here in the UK too.

It is, however, one that can be tackled and we believe the energy sector must lead the way. What’s more, the climate crisis and air pollution are related: addressing one can automatically help reduce the other.

Cleaner transport, greener energy and smarter heating can all contribute to cleaner air, so it’s time to fundamentally change the way we power and heat our homes and businesses, and our methods of travel.

Cleaner transport

Travel is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution. Car sharing, staggered working hours, alternative fuels including electricity or hydrogen, and investment in better public transport systems are just some of the ways to promote cleaner air.

Electrifying the UK’s rail network, for example, would have a huge impact as currently over half of the UK’s trains are still running on diesel engines. Making electric vehicles more affordable and easier to recharge will promote take-up and then have a noticeable impact on our air.

At E.ON we’re working hard on a range of initiatives to make charging electric vehicles simpler and more convenient. We’ve installed our first ultra-fast charge points, making charging on-the-go that bit quicker, and we’re working with Nissan to research how charging technology can be installed at businesses across the UK so parked cars can feed power back into the grid when demand is high.

Greener energy

For the first time ever, more power came from renewable sources than fossil fuels in 2019. This is a fantastic achievement. But 43% of power still came from fossil fuels, meaning the appliances, lights, and security systems we use in our homes and businesses are still powered by energy that creates pollutants.

In order to address this, we need to switch to carbon free power and eliminate fossil fuels. Solar, wind and hydro are all viable sources of energy that are capable of providing the increased power we need without the need for more fossil fuel generation. With further investment and incentives this can quickly become a reality.

At E.ON all of the electricity we provide for our customers’ homes is backed by 100% renewable sources1. We’re also working with our industry partners to make buildings smarter and to allow businesses to take control of their energy, providing them with opportunities to produce it themselves and take an active part in helping their energy systems run more efficiently.

Smarter heating

The ways we heat our homes and businesses is also having a big impact on air pollution. A short-term measure to address this is to upgrade all in-house and business boilers to A+ models.

Longer-term, more efficient district heating schemes are expected to be an important tool in tackling the problem and are already starting to make an impact in cities around the UK. In a district heating system, heat is produced in a central hub and sent via super-insulated pipes to apartment blocks, local buildings or even entire communities.

One of the ways London is looking to reduce its emissions is through new low or even zero-carbon developments like Elephant Park, just south of the River Thames in Elephant and Castle. This has a combined heat and power energy centre – installed and operated by E.ON – that currently runs partially on biogas and aims to use 100% renewable gas by 2023. Solar panels on the roofs will eventually generate 3% of Elephant Park’s total electricity.

Projects like this are an important step on the road to greener and more sustainable communities that have cleaner air to breathe.

We recently produced a paper outlining further recommendations to Government and business on ways to tackle the air pollution problem and detailing all the steps we’re taking to help. You can read it here.

 

 

1. Electricity sourced from E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates. The electricity supplied to your homes comes from the National Grid. Find out more at eonenergy.com/renewable