Ben Burggraaf, the former Head of Energy at Welsh Water, has been appointed as the first CEO of Net Zero Industry Wales.

Net Zero Industry Wales (NZIW) was founded this year to support the development of SWIC with the aim of helping and supporting Welsh industry to explore greener and more sustainable business opportunities, as well as championing Wales’ industrial and business strengths to help it become a world-leader in net zero low carbon manufacturing.

Native of the Netherlands, Ben began his career in 2002 at the Corus/Tata Steel research and development facility in the Netherlands and was appointed as the Energy Optimisation Manager at the Port Talbot Steelworks in 2007.

In 2014, he made the switch to Welsh Water and was responsible for the day-to-day energy costs and carbon management of more than 4000 of the company’s sites across Wales and Herefordshire. Four years later, he was appointed as the Head of Energy, leading on all aspects of energy management for Welsh Water, including developing and leading the company’s Net Zero Strategy.

Through NZIW, Ben will champion the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC), which is the first industrial region in Wales to be supported by NZIW.

Speaking of his appointment, Ben said: “I’m looking forward to supporting Industry in Wales and their stakeholders, to make Wales the country of choice for sustainable goods and services.

“The work done by the South Wales Industrial Cluster and its partners, has built a great foundation to start developing a truly sustainable, prosperous and resilient industry.

“I truly believe that this is key to creating a healthier, more equal and cohesive Wales. I can’t wait to get started.”

Dr Chris Williams, Head of Industrial Decarbonisation at Industry Wales, said of Ben’s appointment: “It is great to have someone of Ben’s calibre leading NZIW. This new organisation and Ben’s appointment now formalises the structure for developing the South Wales Industrial Cluster and is going to be key to ensuring that Wales is at the forefront of developing a sustainable industry befitting the societal needs of 2030, 40, 50 and beyond.

“As ‘Team Wales’ we have to act, we have to change and we have to innovate to achieve net zero and ensure, through a just transition, that we preserve and grow our industries for decades to come. I am sure that Ben is the person to meet this challenge and help champion Welsh Industry on its sustainable journey for future generations.”

Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said: “I very much welcome Ben’s appointment to this vital new role.

“The Welsh Government is determined to do all we can to address the impact of the global climate emergency on our society. With rising energy and fuel costs hitting Welsh industry hard, supporting them to transition to net zero is absolutely crucial. The Welsh Government set up Net Zero Industry Wales earlier this year to do just that.

“I look forward to working with the team at Net Zero Industry Wales to create the fairer, greener and more equal Wales we all want to see.”

Secretary of State for Wales, Robert Buckland said: “I’m delighted to hear that the work of the South Wales Industrial Cluster is moving forward with this appointment.

“The plan to decarbonise vast swathes of heavy industry across south Wales will be vital to achieving Net Zero and is an important project which the UK Government is proud to support.”