YOU know you’ve come a long way when homes of the future are now described as homes of today by societal shapers and science innovators.

And, while there’s still much to be achieved in our mission to create everything from even smarter houses to electric vehicles with proper traffic infrastructure to zero carbon heating, for Barry Carruthers we’re in the right place.

As Head of Innovation, Sustainability and Quality at ScottishPower, he’s certainly leading the charge in many different ways.

“At a corporate level, what that means is we’re working across renewables, networks and retail businesses to look at what we could and should be doing for the future,” says Barry.

“A few years ago that would have been largely focused on the work to be done in terms of innovation in the wind sector – much of that has become business as usual.

“Now we’ve moved forward and there are other things in the picture, such as intense work in electric transport, batteries, low-carbon heating and now hydrogen.

“Hydrogen is one of those things that feeds really well into the complementarity of the rest of our business.

In tackling the decarbonisation challenge and how we clean up the entire society footprint in terms of CO2 emissions, 80-90 per cent is still electrification.“That gets us a long way, very quickly if we do it now, but there are some areas still to go.

“So, when we talk about hydrogen, what we mean is green hydrogen. This is supplied from 100 per cent renewable electricity that goes into a piece of kit called an electrolyser. You add water and electricity together, and out the other end you get hydrogen and oxygen. And what that means is you have another zero carbon fuel.

“So, the way I see it is we will have electrification and hydrogen working together, allowing us to take on the whole decarbonisation challenge.

“All these technologies I see as tools in the toolbox and the more tools you put in there, the better equipped you are to go and tackle decarbonisation.”

A flagship ‘toolbox’ project for achieving a zero carbon way of living can be seen in The HALO Scotland project, of which ScottishPower is a headline partner.

The Kilmarnock urban regeneration initiative aims to transform the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant into a low-carbon hub of affordable homes, an enterprise and innovation hub for business start-ups, and all served by 100 per cent electric heating and transport.

ScottishPower has committed to helping HALO achieve its objectives with a focus on young people, digital skills and energy innovations it believes will demonstrate a decarbonised transport, heat and energy system of the future.

Barry says: “The vision for HALO is really about demonstrating a 100 per cent electric campus completely supported by renewable energy is not only possible, not even probable, it’s happening now. And this brings together commercial sectors, some industrial footprint and domestic properties, all being served by green electricity, low-carbon heating and electric transport.”

For Barry, this shows it is possible to carry electricity from windfarms through our electricity network systems to homes, to power transport and heating.

“We will also be looking to carry out experiments on site and use it as a living lab, to show we can be clever in how we interact with commercial customers in businesses, as well as domestic customers and deliver benefits to all energy users in doing so.”

Barry believes much of our success does rest with policy, government mechanisms and local authorities, but it’s also on us to come to the market with appealing solutions.

“There’s a lot of technology already there. You can go and get heat pumps today.

“You can travel in an electric car today, you can get an electric train or bus today ... all of these technologies are there. So for me there are no excuses anymore. We just have to go on and
do it.

“When I think about my own children, who are six and eight, I want them to have the digital skills but I want them to be applying them in a zero carbon society.

“It’s a journey we all need to go on. The best thing we can do is just make it as easy as possible for people, start now, and make sure everyone can do it so we have a seamless and fair transition to a sustainable society.”

This article appeared in the recent Scottish Power "Countdown to Net Zero" publication which you can view online HERE