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OVO Energy appoints ex-Drax climate lead as director of sustainability

Image: OVO Energy.

Image: OVO Energy.

OVO Energy has appointed Drax's former group head of climate change Dr Rebecca Heaton as its new director of sustainability.

As part of her new role, Dr Heaton will deliver the energy supplier's 'Plan Zero', which was first unveiled in 2019. This will include developing a roadmap and setting goals for decarbonising the company, while also coordinating the transformation of its operations to reduce its environmental impact.

“We are delighted to have Rebecca join us, bringing a wealth of experience in all aspects of climate change policy and sustainability which will strengthen and guide our Plan Zero strategy which is central to OVO’s future ambition,” said Adrian Letts, CEO of OVO.

She will join other recent hires, including Joe Gordon as VP of customer care, Simon Maine as director of corporate affairs and Chris Russell as managing director of OVO Drive.

OVO is one of the largest energy suppliers in the UK with nearly 5 million customers, in part because of its acquisition of SSE’s energy supply division along with continued growth since it was founded in 2009.

Dr Heaton said she was excited to join the company as the UK reaches “such a critical point in its climate change agenda".

“OVO is transforming the energy sector by decarbonising its members’ homes, and I join with a shared ambition which holds the environment at heart and keeps net zero firmly in sight.”

Dr Heaton will leave her role as a member of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) a year before the end of her five year term was set to finish. This change was welcomed by thinktank Ember, among others, who have been critical of the role of biomass and biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in the UK’s path to net zero.

"Recent science has increasingly called into question the benefits of burning wood in power stations, and so it’s become inevitable that Drax’s membership on the climate change committee would have to come to an end,” said Phil Macdonald of Ember.

“The conflict of interest has long been glaring, but in recent years became blinding. Drax, one of the country’s largest recipients of ‘green’ public funds, shouldn’t have a role advising the government on the best route to take action on climate change.”

He called on the CCC to take a “fresh look” at Drax’s BECCS project and its impact on climate change as Dr Heaton steps down. In the CCC’s sixth carbon budget, the UK's climate watchdog stated that the commissioning of the first commercial-scale BECCS plant in the late 2020s was a significant milestone in the development of the technology, which it sees playing a role in the decarbonisation of the energy system in the UK, but that work was needed to underpin the supply chain and infrastructure.


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