Report reveals scale of infrastructure spend needed to meet net zero

If the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero target, then up to £400bn investment is required in green infrastructure over the next decade, according to a report.

On 18 November, the Global Infrastructure Investment Association (GIIA) published a report commissioned from PwC, which outlined how £40bn, per year, is required in new low carbon and digital infrastructure for the UK to achieve its net zero goal. However, there is currently no policy framework to provide investors with sufficient confidence in long-term revenues and returns, meaning investment in net zero assets has a relatively high risk with the cost of financing high. In many cases, this will likely prove prohibitive.

Broken down, it found £15bn will be needed, per year, for the power system to help it to fully integrate and manage even greater levels of renewable and flexible energy sources; £18.5bn per year is needed for buildings and industry, with the majority of this needed to decarbonise homes on the gas grid; £1.5bn per year is needed to support the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and other forms of low carbon transport; and £6bn is necessary for the rollout of next generation networks, such as 5G and fibre networks, together with smart meters.

It made five key recommendations for government to accelerate private infrastructure investment, beginning with the creation of a detailed net zero infrastructure roadmap for power systems, buildings and industry, transport and digital.

It also called for it to identify and further develop revenue support mechanisms; to work with private sector investors to deliver increased public/private sector investment in emerging infrastructure technologies; to implement best practice in infrastructure funding across UK regions and in other countries to accelerate investment; and to provide clear strategic policy guidance to regulators to strike the right balance between the interests of consumers both now and in future.