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BT Strategy Targets “Green” Recovery from COVID-19 Crisis

Monday, June 1st, 2020 (8:08 am) - Score 1,471
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Broadband and UK mobile giant BT Group has today launched two new UK initiatives, the ‘Green Tech Innovation Platform’ and the ‘UK Electric Fleets Alliance’, which they say will help to form the foundation for a climate friendly recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and help to drive the country’s “Net Zero carbon emissions.”

At present the telecoms giant already intends to become a net zero carbon emissions business by 2045 and in the last year alone their business emitted 243 Ktonnes of CO2e (18.6% reduction on the previous year). On top of that they intend to buy 100% of their electricity worldwide from renewable sources by the end of 2020, which compares with 92% today (see here for their targets).

NOTE: BT consumes nearly 1% of the United Kingdom’s entire grid electricity supply.

However only 23 of their vans are electric (with 46 more on order), which is despite the entire group being home to a fleet of 34,000 vehicles (28,000 used by Openreach engineers). The operator has previously said that their ambition for a wider roll-out of EVs is restricted by the country’s weak “nationwide infrastructure for charging vehicles” (as well as the limited range of such vans, but that is improving).

As such BT has today joined forces with The Climate Group to launch the UK Electric Fleets Alliance, which will work to lead a wider adoption of EV vehicles and general fleet de-carbonisation by developing supportive policy measures, stimulating EV supply and investing in related charging infrastructure. However no clear targets have been set for EV adoption itself.

On top of that we have the Green Tech Innovation Platform, which in simple terms will see BT work with innovative start-ups via the Plug and Play platform to trial and scale-up new technologies that could help the operator (and its public sector customers) to reach Net Zero. Several examples of initial projects are included.

Green Tech Innovation Platform Examples

• Smart Streets: Insights from environmental monitoring and traffic optimisation sensors which can be easily integrated into ‘street furniture’ like the next generation of BT Street Hub units (formerly known as InLink UK smart kiosks).

• Smart Buildings: IOT capable solutions supporting energy and water management in social housing and other public sector buildings.

• Remote Working: Uncover ways 5G can be used to support innovative products and solutions that will reduce travel, e.g. using video, augmented reality or virtual reality to carry out remote repair and diagnostics by health and other public sector workers.

BT plans to announce scale-ups chosen through the platform in the Autumn and they will have the opportunity to partner and work collaboratively with the operator and their customers. Partnerships will range from BT using its expertise to find a cheaper, faster initial route to market through to new revenue share models or even taking a stake in the business.

Philip Jansen, BT Group CEO, said:

“The economic set back and immense hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are severe and could be long lasting. However, despite the temporary reprieve on carbon emissions and air quality in towns and cities during the lockdown, the global climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

As we emerge from the crisis, the recovery presents a huge opportunity for Governments, businesses and individuals to put action on climate at the heart of their efforts. We will be playing our part with a once-in-a-generation investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure: full fibre broadband to 20 million premises, as well as our continued investment in 5G mobile.

We will also be backing new green technologies through our Green Tech Innovation Platform. BT is stepping up on climate action and we want to encourage and help others to do the same.”

It’s worth noting that BT has, for the first time, also included progress on carbon reduction and on digital skills training in the calculation of bonuses for eligible employees. As part of the Company’s new remuneration policy set to be introduced this year, these two components will make up 10% of the Group’s bonus calculation.

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all

    I look forward to ‘bits delivered per joule expended’ measurement.

  2. Avatar joe

    “The operator has previously said that their ambition for a wider roll-out of EVs is restricted by the country’s weak “nationwide infrastructure for charging vehicles” (as well as the limited range of such vans, but that is improving).”

    An odd argument. Most BT vans run from depots (which BT don’t have Cpoints at – which they could. Most vans do not do that great a daily distance.

    • Since we don’t have any solid statistics for how many miles such vans do in different areas then it’s a difficult one to debate with any confidence, although I suspect a bigger challenge may be in areas outside of the big cities.

      I know down this way (quite rural outside of town) that finding a good rapid charger (a working one), which isn’t already in-use when you arrive, can be quite difficult. Plenty of slower chargers though, but they’re more for limited partial charges during shopping trips etc.

    • Avatar Sam Machin

      I thought most engineers took their vans home at night, at least in more rural/suburban areas. I think there’s some BT rule about you have to park off street at night or something so in areas without driveways the vans were parked up at the engineers local exchange. There’s at least one Openreachvan parked on a driveway down the road from me most evenings.
      Fitting chargers to exchanges would seem like an easy solution though, BT have a huge and distributed property portfolio, asking engineers to charge at home could be complicated, you’d need some sort of way to reimburse them for the electricity with all the varying rates etc.

    • Avatar joe

      BT do control their depots and could install fast CPs. Van’s are returning for parts/eq even when not based there. However not all do so I agree but given their power connected network they are in a good position to leverage their network to install wider CPs.

      According to an old Fleetworld article an “average 60 to 65 miles per day covered by an Openreach van on a normal day” Thats far inside the range of EVs.

    • The Renault ones they’ve had in trial can do about 124 miles during the summer on the KANGOO Z.E. 33 Van, while the larger MASTER Z.E van will do about 74 miles. Both will be a fair bit less in winter of course.

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2019/07/openreach-trials-100-electric-vans-for-their-uk-engineers.html

    • Avatar joe

      The MASTER Z.E van does look marginal. Though battery upgrades will solve that. Some of that could be ameliorated by tapping into their network for top ups But even if you only converted the KANGOO Z.E thats a lot of vehicles.

    • Avatar 125us

      Most BT field folk park at home. Nearly all the ‘depots’ were sold in the 90’s, and even the garages where the vans are repaired don’t belong to BT any more since BT sold its transport business earlier this year.

  3. Avatar Rich

    I’d love a work EV, my personal car is an EV.
    Anyone that’s joined OR in the past 10 years or so parks at home as per the newer contracts. For field based engineers we rarely spend more than an hour at an exchange per day so charging would mainly need to be done from home. With the bulk of exchanges being closed in the not too distant future exchange charging isn’t much of an option anyway. I do anywhere between 80-120 miles a day in a rural area. There’s no public charging in my work area at all either.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      It is all doable

      75kW gets you 200+ miles 2500kg all up in a Tesla

      Charging can be split and remunerated tax free quite legitimately. The tech exists to install a charging socket that phones home when a particular vehicle is plugged in and tells you how much juice went where.

      The reality is that most commercial vans are too cheaply made for the costs envelope to stretch to a decent battery pack. That being said the situation is improving significantly

      And they will have to as delivery vans are a big source of pollution as they run all day and tend to be quite old.

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