Jeremy Warner: Going green will cost us all a lot of money. Action on climate change is also about jobs, productivity and technology – all involving policies that will hit people in the pocket. The tough bit is matching words with action, for it is as plain as a pike staff that technology and markets alone are not magically going to deliver on what the politicians aspire to. Tough choices and costly policy will be needed to make it happen. Nonetheless, the politicians would not be making such pledges unless there was at least some chance of meeting them. What’s changed is the realisation that it is actually much easier and cheaper to achieve these goals than could have been imagined even five years ago, let alone when all this got going, around the time of the UK Climate Change Act back in 2008. It is that extraordinary reduction in likely costs, in combination with the job creating potential of the required energy transition, that has given the politicians the confidence to announce their ever more eye-catching commitments. The important consideration is quite how the Government proposes to get there, and on this front there is still very little flesh on the bone. Downing Street’s ten point plan for achieving its goal correctly identifies the areas where “something must be done” – transport, home heating, power generation, lifestyles, and so on – but almost wholly fails to answer the key questions of what and how. In its “Sixth Carbon Budget” report published last December, the climate change committee estimated the average “in year annual investment cost” of decarbonising the economy at £44.5bn. [But] the environmental benefits far outweigh the economic costs. Wealthier households can be required by law to meet the £10,000 to £15,000 cost of new heat sources, but it would be both unreasonable and very probably impossible to persuade lower income earners to shell out such an amount. No guidance has as yet been given by the Treasury as to how it intends to incentivise and/or pay for this investment.
Telegraph 24th April 2021 read more »
How can Britain reach net zero carbon emissions? The UK has made a world-leading pledge — but how will we achieve our ambitious target and how will it change the way we eat, heat and travel? “The next phase will involve changes people are more likely to notice,” says Joss Garman, UK director of the European Climate Foundation. “There will also be a cost. Politicians will be reticent to approve any changes they aren’t confident will enjoy support from voters. But if ministers target investment carefully, costs should stay low for most households.” So what does the road to net zero involve? And how will it affect our lives? The secret of this transformation [in electricity] has been price. In 2014, offshore wind cost £150 per megawatt-hour. It now costs roughly £40. Analysts predict renewables will soon be the cheapest as well as the greenest source of energy. There is still a long way to go. Phasing out gas and petrol in favour of electricity means we will need a lot more of it. Lord Turner, the chairman of the Energy Transitions Commission, says: “One of the things we’ve got to realise is that by 2050 we will probably be using 2½ times as much electricity as we are at the moment. So we’ve got to build that system.” The problem, however, is that neither wind nor solar is entirely reliable. On a blustery, sunny day, they work wonders. But on a still, overcast day in the middle of winter, when everyone has the lights and heating on at full blast, they will struggle to cope. In 2013, Johnson, then the mayor of London, said existing wind farms couldn’t “pull the skin off a rice pudding”. Nuclear will help to fill this gap. But batteries have a more important job to do, absorbing power from renewables during peaks and retaining it through the troughs, though significant innovation is still required. Hydrogen boilers are one option, which companies hope will utilise the existing gas grid. If produced using renewable electricity, to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, there are no carbon emissions. But experts are divided on whether this is feasible, or whether a more polluting option — producing hydrogen from natural gas — might be necessary Heat pumps are another, taking heat from the air or ground and amplifying it to warm a central heating system. They are considered a greener option but are expensive and will require significant retrofitting work. Turner views this as an opportunity. “There are probably 200,000 to 250,000 new jobs to be had in retrofitting our existing housing stock,” he says.
Times 25th April 2021 read more »
The Government is discouraging the adoption of heat pumps through the very important ‘Energy Performance Certificate’ (EPC) system. The EPC system shows energy consumption for particular buildings and which is legally essential when selling properties. Incredibly, even when a property is entirely heated using ‘resistance electricity, and therefore especially suitable for heat pumps, the standard advice given for energy improvements fails to mention the most important single measure which is likely to be the conversion of the heating system to a heat pump. Various other piecemeal measures will be selected under the EPC system, but heat pumps are not explicitly promoted. In fact heat pumps are likely to reduce the carbon footprint of heating (usually by far the largest element in domestic energy consumption) by around two-thirds. And remember, this includes circumstances where the house would need to pay for a gas connection before a gas boiler could be added, making gas connections quite expensive. Now, I emphasise, it is not the EPC assessors that are to blame, it is the software that they have to work with that automatically throws up options for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. So clearly this is a major Government failure. Government press statements promote heat pumps, but the most important driver at the public interface of the housing industry, the EPC system, actually discourages people from thinking about installing heat pumps even in the most obviously attractive situations for them.
100percent renewables 24th April 2021 read more »
Boris Johnson’s plan to accelerate the UK’s climate ambitions over the next 15 years, revealed last week, will hasten progress towards a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. The new target – to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 78%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2035 – toughens an earlier pledge for a 68% reduction by 2030. This greater ambition could boost the fortunes of several low-carbon technologies which stand ready for a rapid roll-out. Here are the winners and losers from the new targets: Battery Storage; Green Home Experts; Recycling Plants; Carbon Capture. The losers include Nuclear power plants. A greater emphasis on cutting carbon by 2035 could add another argument against further large nuclear power plants in favour of options that can be built faster and cut emissions sooner. This bodes well for Rolls-Royce, which is hoping to develop a string of small modular reactors. It could begin manufacturing hundreds of small units to power the electricity system by 2030, with a far smaller risk of delays, at a time when fast climate action is crucial.
Guardian 24thy April 2021 read more »