Boris may not need the nuclear option to reach net zero. The proposal to use the regulated asset base model to fund new nuclear projects this week was given a mixed reaction. SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies writes exclusively for Utility Week about why he believes the government should now be showing the same level of support for renewable electricity if it is serious about reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Utility Week 26th July 2019 read more »
A new government consultation, published this week, asserts that the UK “will…require” new nuclear or gas-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS), in order to meet its net-zero emissions target. This assertion is the basis for proposing a new “regulated asset base” (RAB) funding model to support the construction of additional nuclear plants around the UK. The RAB model could also be used to buy the infrastructure needed for gas CCS, a second consultation says. The idea that electricity from nuclear and CCS will be required to get to net-zero is broadly in line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and some other research, whereas the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) recommended a focus on renewables instead. As with other multi-billion decisions around the UK’s future energy system, however, the government’s justification appears to rest on model simulations run internally, which have not been published. The consultations are among 10 rushed out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) this week, at around 6.30pm on Monday evening, ahead of the announcement on Tuesday morning of Boris Johnson as new Conservative leader and presumptive prime minister. These consultations, summarised in the article, below, represent the bulk of a long-awaited energy white paper, which had been expected this week but may no longer be published. The Times also reports that former business secretary Greg Clark told a meeting with industry this week that 30-40 gigawatts (GW) of “firm” low-carbon capacity would be needed in 2050 to meet the net-zero target, according to unpublished BEIS analysis. The lack of transparency makes this analysis impossible to judge, says Michael Liebreich, founder of and now senior contributor to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. He tells Carbon Brief: “Any case for ‘firm’ power is essentially valueless without knowing the detail of the assumptions. Firm power which cannot be switched off when you don’t need it will be as much of a problem as variable power which cannot be switched on when you do. What is called for is flexibility, in huge quantities and of all types. Does the nuclear power in the government model provide it? We just aren’t told.”
Carbon Brief 26th July 2019 read more »
Andrea Leadsom, who officially took over as the UK’s Business Secretary yesterday, is already facing immediate calls from MPs to firm up the government’s plan for reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and acclerate action to deploy electric vehicles, carbon capture technologies, and energy efficiency measures. Rachel Reeves, chair of Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, today wrote to Leadsom to call for her to “hit the ground running and act quickly to ramp up efforts on the policies and actions crucial to tackling climate change and capitalising on the opportunities of a low-carbon economy”.
Business Green 26th July 2019 read more »