National Grid’s net zero milestones: 2021

Every year, we work harder than ever to find new innovative ways of decarbonising the energy system and moving closer to reaching our net zero ambitions.

Our vision is to be at the heart of a clean, fair and affordable energy future, and this year we’ve achieved some impressive milestones which take us a step closer to making a net zero future a reality for everyone.

1. We launched an app and voice skill to help you use cleaner energy at home

Our WhenToPlugIn app tells you when the electricity in your area will be cleanest, so you can plan your electricity use for the ‘greenest’ times of day and save those energy intensive tasks for when they’ll have the least impact on the environment.

You can also get this information through our WhenToPlugIn voice assistant skill on your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Find out more about the WhenToPlugIn app and voice skill


2. We launched one of the US’s first green hydrogen blending projects

The HyGrid Project is a collaboration with the town of Hempstead, NY, to build one of the first and largest clean hydrogen projects in the US. By blending green hydrogen into the existing distribution system, it’s expected to heat approximately 800 homes and fuel a fleet of municipal vehicles.

Read more about the HyGrid project


3. Our interconnectors made 2 million tonnes of carbon savings*

That’s the equivalent of taking 933,100 cars off the road, or planting 2 million trees.

Interconnectors help us to reduce carbon emissions by connecting the zero carbon energy sources of neighbouring countries. This ensures that renewable energy isn’t wasted by allowing any excess power, such as that generated from wind and solar farms, to be shared between countries.

Read more about interconnectors


4. We launched the world’s longest subsea electricity cable

Stretching 720km under the North Sea at depths of up to 700 metres, North Sea Link is our fifth and latest interconnector, connecting the UK with Norway. It’s capable of sharing up to 1400 megawatts of clean electricity – enough to power around 1.4 million UK homes.

Read more about North Sea Link


5. We reinvested in our New York communities with the launch of Project C

Project C is our commitment to:

  • Connect our communities to clean and sustainable energy.

  • Care for our neighbourhoods and their regeneration.

  • Compassionately address the challenges our customers face, including environmental justice and social equity.

  • Create the workforce that will help build New York’s clean energy delivery system.

  • Collaborate with our customers, community partners, stakeholders and many others to deliver a clean, fair, resilient and affordable energy future.

On the day of the launch, over 1,000 National Grid employees volunteered over 4,600 hours in the NYC area at food banks, cleaning up neighbourhoods and parks, supplying PPE and more.

Read more about Project C


6. Our world-first collaboration replaced SF6 with a greener alternative

In partnership with Hitachi Energy, we launched a pilot project to replace the greenhouse gas Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) in existing high-voltage equipment with a greener alternative.

This forms part of our ambition to reduce our SF6 emissions by 50% by 2030; by eliminating nearly 6 tonnes of SF6 emissions – the equivalent of taking more than 100,000 cars off the road – and removing all SF6 gas from electricity assets by 2050.

Read more about the SF6 replacement project


7. We kicked off the Smart Path Connect project, to add 1GW of renewable energy across New York

In partnership with the New York Power Authority, this $1 billion project is expected to:

  • Deliver an extra 1GW renewable energy flow across New York

  • Avoid more than 1.16 million tons of CO2 emissions each year

  • Save more than $400 million in transmission congestion annually

  • Create hundreds of clean energy construction jobs


8. We constructed the world’s first T-pylon

T-pylons are the first new design for a pylon in Great Britain in nearly 100 years. The world’s first T-pylon is part of our Hinkley Connection project in Somerset, where 116 T-pylons will connect six million homes and businesses to low-carbon energy.

Read more about T-pylons


9. We deployed the first pole-mounted EV chargers in Massachusetts

This new kind of electric vehicle charger is mounted on city power poles 10 feet above the street, and will provide EV charging access to those without private garages or dedicated parking, creating a more fair, clean energy future.

This project was the first deployment of pole-mounted EV chargers by an investor-owned utility in the US, and hopes to expand EV adoption, accelerate usage and lower installation costs.

We have also now installed over 3,200 EV charging ports across New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, half of which are located in environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.


10. We helped to connect the world’s largest offshore wind farm

Our substation at Killingholme in Lincolnshire has been upgraded to help connect the Hornsea Phase 2 offshore windfarm to the electricity system in Great Britain.

When complete, Hornsea 2 will be the largest windfarm in the world generating 1.4GW of green energy from 165 8MW wind turbines – enough to supply 1.3 million homes.


11. We saw the highest UK wind record to date

The highest wind record was achieved on 21 May 2021, with 17.7GW of wind generation – approximately equivalent to boiling 7.6 million kettles at once.


12. Great Britain’s electricity grid was the greenest it’s ever been

At 1pm on Monday 5 April, zero carbon sources made up almost 80% of the nation’s power – with wind power making up 39% of the electricity mix – meaning that Great Britain’s electricity grid was the greenest it’s ever been.


…And of course, we were a principal partner of COP26 – the world’s most significant summit on climate change

As a principal partner of COP26, we’re committed to driving more ambitious change – in the UK, US and globally – and to show that achieving net zero is possible with existing technologies.

Read more about our part in COP26


John Pettigrew, Chief Executive of National Grid, said: “In 2022, the world needs to turn the commitments from COP26 into action to achieve faster progress and meaningful change. The sense of urgency from the summit must continue if countries are to stay on the right trajectory to tackle climate change effectively. But the focus must be not just on what needs to be done, but also on how to do it in a fair and equitable way so that nobody is left behind on the journey to net zero.”

Find out more about our journey to net zero


*Figure from Q1 to Q3 2021