Category Archives: Low carbon energy

The nuclear option: what Hinkley Point says about UK energy policy

19020034765_a6f2962cca_bEDF’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

A strategy to solve air inequality and keep Britain moving

leedsThis 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

How do we store low carbon power long term? The answer is in sight

4993115725_411c7d610c_bThis 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.

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I’ve changed my mind on renewables targets

Off sure wind turbineThis 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

Is community energy our alternative energy future?


CommunitysolarPlymouthGreen Alliance associate Rebecca Willis reports on the project,
Cultures of Community Energy, which she worked on for the British Academy.

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.

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What will Brexit mean for UK energy, resources and natural environment policy?

Now that the dust has settled after the referendum and the new government is in place, it’s a good point to take stock and consider what Brexit will mean for UK national environment policy.

Here, our policy experts give their insights on the likely impact and challenges of different scenarios in the three areas of our work: climate and energy, natural environment and resources.

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Low carbon UK: EU membership has put us in the driving seat of the electric vehicle industry

leaf4This post is by Bryn Kewley & Peter Clutton-Brock of E3G.

From an unassuming factory in Sunderland, the UK is leading the EU market in electric vehicles. It’s a market which is expected to grow quickly, with Norway already consulting on an outright ban on the sale of fossil fuel cars. Read more

Low carbon UK: why we have to get infrastructure right

blackfriars via flickr - Jim LinwoodThis post is by Tim Chapman, director of the infrastructure design group at Arup.

Abating carbon emissions is becoming an increasingly important responsibility, and one in which developed countries such as the UK need to show technological leadership.

Until recently, the infrastructure sector wasn’t aware of its primary role in making this change. Read more

Earning our living in a low carbon world

Peter Mandelson2This post is by the Rt Hon Lord Mandelson, former UK secretary of state for business, innovation and skills. It is the speech he gave to the event ‘Will the UK succeed in a low carbon world’ on 9 June 2016, organised by Green Alliance, with CAFOD, Christian Aid, Greenpeace, RSPB and WWF.

During my time as business secretary I was preoccupied with one question: how does the UK earn its living in an ever more competitive global economy?

Today the question remains the same, but the answer is changing. And, as the report by Green Alliance and other environment and development groups forcefully argues, any answer to that question must include how the UK competes in the global low carbon economy.

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What a certain old lady can teach us about energy policy

387px-there-was-an-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly-miss-kaulback-38317Do you remember the old lady who swallowed a fly? Her chosen remedy – to swallow a spider in hope of catching the fly – unfortunately made things worse: said spider wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. She dealt with this unintended consequence by swallowing a bird, which didn’t help either. Bird led to cat led to dog, goat and then cow (I don’t know how). The sad denouement came when she swallowed a horse, and died. Of course.

The British electricity system is starting to look worryingly like that poor old lady. The government, dissatisfied with what the markets are delivering, is proposing modification after modification, in the hope that one day the ‘neutral’ market will deliver the government’s ever more obvious technology preferences. It looks as if our energy policy designers have forgotten their nursery rhymes.

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