Energy efficiency is often seen as a win-win: falling energy use benefits consumers and the environment, whilst it also allows the economy to grow. However, our recent research into energy rebound or ‘take back’ (when energy efficiency can be cancelled out by changes in people’s behaviour) suggests it may hamper the effectiveness of policy aimed at reducing energy use and its associated carbon emissions. Read more
Category Archives: Low carbon energy
This blog is by Amy Leppänen, communications assistant at Green Alliance.
Yesterday’s news on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon has refocused attention on renewable energy opportunities in Wales. But where has the country got to so far? Wales has been known as a coal nation and global hub of the industrial revolution, second only to England. But our research indicates that the Welsh have lost none of their pioneering spirit and are now powering up for the renewables era. Read more
Reading the news, it’s hard to know what to make of the UK’s low carbon progress. On Christmas Day we were running on 40 per cent renewable power, and earlier last year we switched all our coal fired power stations off for the first time in 130 years. Read more
Five years since the establishment of the levy control framework (LCF), the government’s main tool to manage spending on clean energy, the National Audit Office (NAO) has provided some useful insights into its performance to date. While media coverage jumped to highlight its most negative claim, that renewables will cost households £17 more than planned in 2020, it failed to report the rest of the story: that energy bills overall will actually be lower in 2020, by an average of £38.
Britain has an extraordinarily reliable power system. The lights flicker so rarely that it is easy to forget that the power system is actually a finely tuned and, in some ways, fragile machine, which breaks if electricity demand and supply are not in balance. Perturbations, such as the up-tick in demand after the FA Cup final, or the sudden outage of a coal plant, must be steadied within seconds. Read more
EDF’s battle for Hinkley C, a project first put forward a decade ago, has been won. It is a triumph for the political equivalent of siege warfare. Back in 2006, the European Pressurised Reactor was shiny and new, and nuclear power seemed like the cheapest route to a secure, low carbon power system. In 2016, the decision to back Hinkley feels more like an inevitability than a choice: the EPR is a dated design with some big flaws, and innovation in renewables and smart technology makes EDF’s version of nuclear look expensive and hard to deliver. Read more
This post is by Stephen Heidari-Robinson, former energy and environment adviser to David Cameron.
Unlike smog, today’s air pollution is an invisible killer: according to the Royal College of Physicians, 40,000 Britons die from it each year, twenty times the number killed in road accidents. Children are the most vulnerable: research suggests that their long term health and learning both suffer. Read more
This post is by Chris Goodall, author of The Switch, which describes how the world can cost effectively move to a zero carbon economy.
Sometimes we just don’t notice how well things are going in the race to decarbonise the world economy. Solar photovoltaic panels (PV) continue to decline sharply in cost. Batteries are becoming rapidly cheaper and we will have inexpensive electric cars with 200 miles of range within eighteen months. Wind turbines are improving in price and performance, particularly offshore. Energy use is proving easy to manage second by second. Optimism about a prosperous low carbon future for all seven billion people in the world is more justified with each passing month.
This post is by Chris Huhne, former UK energy and climate change secretary from 2010 to 2012 and current co-chair of ET Index which analyses the carbon risk of worldwide quoted companies. He advises Zilkha Biomass Energy and the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association.
One criticism of British energy and climate change policy over the past few years is that it has involved a ‘dash for renewables’ predicated on high oil and gas prices. That is not true. During my time as secretary of state for energy and climate change, and subsequently, we were careful to balance all three families of low carbon electricity generation: renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, with carbon capture and storage. The reason? We could not predict the future, and did not know which would turn out the cheapest (or, indeed, what the oil and gas price would be). In a time of great uncertainty, energy policy should be akin to investing in a portfolio of shares for retirement: however good one share looks now, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Read more
The green fields of Wiltshire have recently become the site of an impressive energy innovation. On the last day of 2015, the Braydon Manor Solar Array was connected to the grid, plugging in 9MW of solar energy, or enough to supply around 2,500 houses.