UK energy business leaders overwhelmingly question whether transition from fossil fuel energy to renewables is “moving too quickly”, survey reveals


A survey, commissioned by global engineering and technical consultancy, Vysus Group, has revealed that 92.4% of respondents believe we are moving too quickly in our race to Net Zero.

Moreover, 93% believe COP26 has ‘galvanised’ the UK into committing to sustainable targets.

Over half said they are in the process of incorporating transition, environmental or sustainability targets into business planning, while 20% have already done so and 25% will do so in the next six months.

The research has been revealed as part of Vysus Group’s launch of Planit22, a year-long campaign aimed at heightening awareness of the solutions and issues faced by internal and external stakeholders worldwide, as they adjust and transition to meeting sustainability commitments.

The survey, conducted by third-party, and Market Research Society-member consultancy Censuswide, gathered opinions and insights across 250 energy company owners and decision makers in the UK. In addition, it revealed splits across age, geographic location and company size.

Of those citing the transition was moving too quickly, millennials accounted for 94%, while the baby boomer generation were less inclined to agree, at 66%.

Encouragingly, the survey also found that as few as 1.6% of those polled said that they had “no plans” to “set transition, environmental and sustainability targets” in their business planning, however, nearly half (47.2%) of business owners and decision makers cited the biggest barrier to achieving Net Zero is cost.

David Clark, Vysus Group CEO, said: “That such a high percentage of respondents feel that the transition to renewables is moving too quickly comes as no surprise, but we have to put that into context given these people are highly informed; they know what is required to hit targets not least the sheer scale of capital investments, planning, due diligence and risk analysis.

“No one is disputing the objective, or what needs to happen. It’s the ‘how’ that is under scrutiny here, and those who aren’t talking about timing as an issue, those not directly involved in the process, who will have less awareness of the real challenges involved. As we have seen repeatedly throughout our history, the evolution and deployment of technology can rapidly disrupt and transform how our world works, and while this will be a critical factor in delivering on transition objectives, this will need to be supported by governments to ensure infrastructure can keep pace with these transformations.

Vysus Group has launched Planit22 to not only envelop an internal culture of sharing ideas and shaping our own thinking around energy transition, with its 650-plus staff in more than 20 countries, but also to continue with the day job of supporting customers on that journey.

With the energy sector under closer scrutiny following COP26, the company is also keen to spread the message that while the more obvious routes to Net Zero in the public eye are in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, tidal power and hydrogen, the industry as a whole is committed to maintaining sustainable approaches in much wider areas, with the development and deployment of new storage, transmission technologies, along with the significant scaling of the power grid infrastructure as well as growing requirements for large scale carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The campaign will be based upon three pillars – education, collaboration and integration – and the company has appointed ‘sustainability champions’, who have volunteered to showcase how the work they do is juxtaposed against their own lifestyle habits.

The survey also broke down responses by age, region and company size. Unsurprisingly, those under the age of 34 believe that COP26, across the board, has led to sustainability planning becoming a bigger priority, similarly, this group came out top when asked if their own business was doing enough towards transition to renewables.

Sole traders and smaller companies (fewer than 99 employees) were also more likely to cite that transition was moving too quickly, potentially highlighting a lack of resource compared to those with more than 500 employees.

David Clark added: “Everything we do as a business has to come with this mindset, and we need to ask ourselves questions, sometimes tough questions, around our input into delivering sustainable practices. Even outside of the green initiatives we and our customers embark upon.

“This survey has definitely highlighted areas where we need added impetus. We have to help our customers transition at scale given the ambitious deadlines ahead of us, whether that be through assessing and deploying new technologies across the energy spectrum or decarbonising major industrial processes. All of these create significant and increasing complex and interconnected risks – and identifying, assessing and mitigating risk is a key skill set which Vysus Group brings to help our customers.

“The simple truth is that we have been building up to this point for some time. The ever-increasing demand for energy is inevitable to meet the needs of our growing population in an equitable way as nations and areas develop and industrialise further. How we deliver on this increasing demand sustainably while rapidly reducing our existing carbon footprint is the challenge we are all committed to.”