Category Archives: Low carbon energy

We must support the transition to low carbon by phasing out high carbon

Power station from the Mersey RiverThis post is by Jenny Bird, Dr Florian Kern, Dr Paula Kivimaa and Dr Karoline Rogge from the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand.

Prior to the era of Donald Trump, tweeting was an unusual way to make a government announcement. But a tweet from the UK team at the 2014 UN climate summit in New York declared David Cameron’s intention to “phase out existing coal over the next 10-15 years”. Read more

Why this week’s budget shouldn’t ignore the UK’s yawning low carbon power gap

Electricity Pylon - UK standard overhead power line transmission tower at sunset.This year the spring budget comes at an odd time for all things low carbon in the UK. In February, the government published its industrial strategy, setting out its clean growth aims as part of Theresa May’s flagship domestic economic policy. By the beginning of the summer, the government will produce a ‘clean growth’ plan, outlining how the UK will meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets (covering 2023-32).

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Can energy efficiency deliver on its promises?

Glowing lightbulb illuminating other onesThis post is by Paul Brockway, research fellow at the University of Leeds. He examines roles and relationships between energy, economy and society  as part of UKERC’s research programme.

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

How Wales is powering ahead on renewables

solar_panels_wales_original-copyThis 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

What’s wrong with government renewables support and how to get it right

Wind Turbines for Generation of Renewable Energy in the Countryside of EnglandFive 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.

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How can Britain keep the lights on without subsidising fossil fuels?

London nightBritain 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

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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