What steps can the UK take to reach net zero emissions by 2050? The government has pledged to review its long-term climate targets. Renewable energy, housing and transport are just some areas where new policies could cut emissions fast. More wind farms, solar power and electric cars: these are likely to be the future of the UK, under government plans announced this week to seek a zero-carbon economy in the next 30 years. Some of the less obvious effects could be just as transformative, however, involving innovations such as smart houses and smart roads, widespread changes to the countryside wrought by new tree-planting and new farming practices designed to conserve soils. There may need to be restrictions, too – in air travel, private transport, new building construction and our food and waste habits. Currently, ministers are pledged to cutting emissions by 80% by 2050. To reduce them to net zero by the same date, with only three decades to go, is a big step up. Dustin Benton, policy director at Green Alliance, a think-tank, said the government would have to bring forward new measures as a matter of urgency. “The government has made real progress on some issues, such as diesel cars and offshore wind, but there are glaring holes in areas such as energy efficiency and onshore renewables,” he said. “The UK can achieve net zero emissions, but to do so the government will need to fill these gaps and develop a new set of policies.” Less comfortably for many environmental campaigners, the government is also likely to have to consider new nuclear reactors. The plans for the UK’s first new atomic power plant in a generation, at Hinkley Point, have already run into controversy. The price paid to France’s partly state-owned EDF has been decried as far too high, and construction has proceeded slowly.
Guardian 20th April 2018 read more »
Driven by decades of aggressive government policy, renewable electricity generation has grown rapidly. This expansion has, in turn, contributed to lower costs and renewable power that is no longer prohibitively expensive. In fact, wind and solar power are already cheaper than coal-fired power generation or natural gas power generation. As the primary obstacles to a renewable energy transition is no longer cost, the old approach of subsidizing renewable generation until it can compete with fossil fuels no longer makes sense. Rather, the challenge stems from the need to integrate intermittent power supplies into the electric grid, and governments interested in clean energy and decarbonization can use policy to remove systemic obstacles to growth. To address these challenges, new policies will need to encourage real-time pricing of electricity to avoid an oversupply of renewable power when the sun shines and the wind blows. Importantly, policymakers need to look for ways to enable two-way metering to ensure that distributed power generators can sell their surplus to other consumers when demand is high. Policy should also include demand-side interventions to shift electricity consumption profiles such that demand meets the supply of wind and solar power. Additionally, all electricity consumers should contribute to covering the cost of the electric grid regardless of how many kilowatt-hours they consume and produce. If consumers paid a fee for the costs of the electric grid, distribution power generation would not threaten the finances of grid maintenance. Quite to the contrary, two-way metering would enable micro-level power exchange between households and companies that both produce and consume renewables.
Energy Post 19th April 2018 read more »