Tag Archives: energy policy

Lessons from the coalface: what the Cumbria coal mine story tells us about UK climate strategy

The UK may see itself as a climate leader, with cross-party support for a net zero goal. But, last week, local politicians granted planning permission for a proposed coal mine on the West Coast of Cumbria. Burning the coal from the mine, to make steel, will release nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. That’s more than double Cumbria’s total current emissions. (There’s more on the background to the mine in this briefing.)

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How can we make sure the low carbon energy transition is fair?

small energyThis post is by Sivapriya Mothilal Bhagavathy of the University of Oxford, Samantha Crichton of the Sustainable Energy Association, Melanie Rohse of the Global Sustainability Institute and Daisy Goaman of the Centre for Sustainable Energy. 

It has been ten years since the Climate Change Act, and the UK has made significant progress in reducing emissions from the power sector, dropping them by nearly 60 per cent on 2008 levels. While five years ago fossil fuels contributed nearly two thirds of the UK’s power, by August 2018 over 60 per cent came from zero carbon sources. This is an excellent example of what clear goals, well designed policies and technological innovation can achieve. Read more

Five expert insights on Brexit and energy

1331541437_ca6433862f_bOn 13 November, we invited the EU’s former director general of DG Energy, Sir Philip Lowe, to speak to a small specialist audience about the likely impacts of Brexit on energy and climate policy. Sir Philip, who was in post from 2010 to 2014, is well qualified to comment: he has deep expertise across key EU institutions and is currently chair of the World Energy Council’s energy trilemma initiative. The meeting sparked interesting conversations, including around Sir Philip’s recent publication, Brexit and energy. This post reports the main insights from our discussion.  Read more

Now renewables are the cheapest source of energy, it’s time to rethink UK policy

cleanThe results of the yesterday’s government auction for renewables procurement has taken the entire energy sector by surprise. Clearing 860 MW at £75/MWh in 2021 and 2.3 GW at £57/MWh in 2022, it revealed that the cost of offshore wind has dropped by 65 per cent in under five years. This result comes close on the heels of a report from Renewable UK, highlighting that the UK’s offshore wind industry has now increased its domestic content to 48 per cent and is in the process is providing almost 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Heavy investment during the industry’s nascent years has yielded tremendous results and the UK can confidently stake its claim to be the global leader in offshore wind.

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Will the government give consumers the energy system they want?

charging carSmall scale technologies are shaking up the existing energy paradigm, where the only consumer choice is to decide which big and distant power company to buy from. This ignores rapid developments in solar panels, onshore wind, electric vehicles (EVs) and battery storage. People are increasingly choosing to be energy owners, and are able to take back at least some control over energy production. Read more

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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How to get UK energy and climate policy back on track

21660736191_b33a880c4d_zSometimes it takes an outsider to reveal an uncomfortable truth. In his speech this week to Green Alliance’s Beyond Paris event, held in association with the CBI, Al Gore held up a mirror to the UK and it wasn’t pretty.

He described a UK out of step with the new found ambition of China and the US on green growth, a welter of low carbon energy policies being cancelled and a prime minster who is not providing public leadership on climate action. An audience of over 400 studiously phlegmatic business and NGO leaders got to their feet and gave him a standing ovation. It must have been a first for a buttoned up London policy audience. Read more

Innovators need a voice in government too

bubblesThis post is by independent researcher and Green Alliance associate Rebecca Willis.

It’s obvious, when you think about it, that emerging industries and innovators have less of a voice in government than established players. Incumbents have a lot of advantages: they have a proven technology or system which regulators understand; they can afford to pay staff or consultants to engage and lobby; and policies and regulations are designed with them in mind. In contrast, innovators put all their effort into getting their new approach off the ground (with little time left for lobbying); regulations aren’t designed for them; and policy makers may not understand what they do. Read more

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