The UK government is preparing to announce that it will broadly embrace the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change and introduce a new target to cut emissions to net zero by 2050, according to reports from news agency Bloomberg. Citing officials familiar with the plan, the agency reported the new target is likely to be announced within two months. Such a fast tracked timetable could potentially allow for amendments to the Climate Change Act to be passed before Parliament’s summer recess, especially given the limited nature of the government’s legislative agenda in the wake of the delay to Brexit. Since the CCC’s wide-ranging report was released last week, leading Ministers have repeatedly hinted they want to see the government adopt the target as quickly as possible and ensure the UK becomes the first major economy to embrace a legally-binding net zero emissions goal.
Business Green 10th May 2019 read more »
Committee on Climate Change sinks nuclear power in the UK in favour of renewables. Few people seem to have noticed how the Committee on Climate Change, in their ‘Net Zero’ report (net zero carbon emissions for 2050 for the UK), have effectively junked nuclear power in favour of renewable energy. Indeed a careful reading of the evidence produced by the CCC completely upends the former received wisdom that renewable energy could not, on its own, achieve the UK’s long term carbon emission reduction targets. The late David McKay’s argument (see ‘Sustainable Energy without hot air’) that large quantities of nuclear power were necessary have been quietly sidelined by the CCC. Rather, the evidence presented by the CCC says that not only can renewables do the whole job (on the supply side, having taken account of demand reduction measures), but renewables can do things much more cheaply than either nuclear power or carbon capture and storage. The CCC argues that investment in renewable energy will save consumers money, whilst investment in nuclear power and carbon capture and storage will cost a lot of money (eg see Table 2.3 page 43).
Dave Toke’s Blog 10th May 2019 read more »
Andy Critchlow, S&P Global Platts: Britain has almost turned its back on the fuel of the industrial revolution after going its first week since 1882 without needing coal for power generation. Some campaigners want more action and are now calling for the end to all fossil fuel use. However, abandoning hydrocarbons entirely without proven alternatives would be virtue-seeking folly. Coal has been on the decline in the UK for many years. The cheap but carbon-intensive fuel accounted for just 5pc of total power generation capacity last year, down from about a third in 2014. Subsidised renewable projects such as wind farms and solar parks have partly made this transition possible. However, without natural gas-fired turbines providing vital baseload, the lights would go out. Coal use in the UK has become the soft target for climate campaigners and policymakers seeking to greenwash their credentials. They have a point. Coal produces about 50pc more carbon dioxide than gas when burned in power plants and the falling cost of clean renewables has further undermined its place in the national energy mix. Mitigating climate change will require reducing the volume of coal burned globally, although the UK’s consumption is barely relevant in this context. However, coal still has some useful advantages as an emergency backstop to ensure Britain’s economy has reliable supplies of affordable electricity during periods of extraordinary peak high demand. Wind turbines are kind to the planet but are unreliable without the ability to store power on an industrial scale. Awkward spikes in electricity consumption could also become more frequent if electric vehicles become a primary source of personal passenger transport in the future. Coal has no geopolitical baggage. The fuel is generally sourced from stable producers such as the US, Eastern Europe, Australia and Indonesia, unlike oil and gas imported from the politically volatile Middle East, or Russia. Of course, nuclear could provide the strategically important baseload capacity, but at a significant cost. The $30bn cost of building Hinkley Point C on the Avon has proved how divisive atomic energy remains as an alternative. Britain’s seven remaining coal plants are on average 45 years old and can be run down with little additional investment, although complying with air-quality rules in 2020 could be expensive. Maintaining these turbines as an emergency backstop of last resort is still prudent. Coal still has an important role still to play in powering global growth and providing electricity for a population expected to reach almost 10 billion people by 2050. It can still have at least a small place in the UK’s energy mix as a fuel of last resort for years to come.
Telegraph 10th May 2019 read more »
James Dyke – Professor of Sustainability Southampton Univ. The UK can’t fight the climate emergency when the Tories are entirely opposed to renewables like solar. The party’s decision to increase tax on domestic solar power shows that its head is still firmly in the sand. Why does the UK government appear to be intent on frustrating the deployment of solar power? The real reason for this tax hike is that domestic solar has proved too popular. The cost of solar panels have plummeted and people increasingly see them as desirable improvements to their homes. The accelerating update of domestic solar threatens to disrupt the UK’s still largely centralised energy grid. It also butts up against seemingly ideological opposition to renewable energy in the current Conservative Party. The decision to increase tax on domestic solar power needs to be considered alongside its support of fracking for gas, billions of pounds of subsidies to continue to pump fossil fuels out of the North Sea, and resistance to onshore wind turbines.
Independent 10th May 2019 read more »