Stronger action needed to transform the UK's energy system

An ambitious policy package is essential for the UK to transform its energy system to achieve the deep reductions in carbon emissions required to avoid dangerous climate change, according to research led by UCL scientists. To meet climate targets set for 2050, policies need to ensure strong action is taken now, while preparing for fundamental changes in how energy is provided and used in the long term.

The study is part of the Deep Decarbonization Pathway Project (DDPP) which is coordinated by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) set by the United Nations Secretary General. It analysed possible pathways the UK could take to decarbonise its with the aim of limiting global warming to the internationally agreed 2 degrees Celsius target by 2050.

The findings will feed into the final DDPP report which includes research from 16 countries that account for 75% of global and is scheduled for publication in September 2015.

Published today by IDDRI and SDSN, the study shows how the UK can meet its targets through multiple pathways, with key findings being:

  • The power sector must decarbonise by 85-90% by 2030 - this step is essential for increasing low electricity provision in the transport and buildings sector, which is estimated to at least double between now and 2050.
  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS), when cost-effective and available at scale, needs to play a central role in both power generation and industrial sectors.
  • The direct use of fossil fuels in end use sectors must decrease by more than 70% by 2050.

The scientists behind the study say a stronger and more ambitious policy package than currently exists is required to transform the UK energy system, emphasising that consistency is needed across all energy-related policies and adequate policy timeframes are set to provide certainty for investors. They recommend decisions on airport infrastructure and new fossil resource extraction must consider long term carbon targets, calling into question large-scale expansion, and that cost-effective low carbon technologies such as onshore wind continue to be strongly promoted.

Report lead author, Mr Steve Pye, UCL Energy Institute, said: "Without a sustained and strong policy push that increases year on year in ambition, the delivery of low carbon technologies at the necessary scale will not be achieved. Carbon emissions need to halve by 2030 to 4 tCO2/capita, and reduce to less than 1 tCO2/capita by 2050. For this, the UK needs policies now that realise the full low cost energy efficiency potential in buildings, ensure the rapid deployment of low carbon generation technologies such as CCS, and prepare for the roll-out of low emissions vehicles in the transport sector and alternative, non-gas based heating systems for homes."

The modelling used to explore different pathways shows that a move to low carbon energy sources requires a strong reduction in the supply of conventional fossil fuels, particularly in oil used for transport and gas used for heating buildings. In the long term, the continued use of gas in electricity and other industries will be strongly dependent on the availability of CCS.

Co-author Professor Neil Strachan, UCL Energy Institute, said: "We've set out feasible pathways that can be taken now, over the next 15 years and in the long term up until 2050 which will help the UK make significant reductions in emissions needed to avoid dangerous climate change. The UK is in a position to play a strong role in international engagement on reducing by cooperating on developing low-carbon technologies and setting an example to other countries by implementing ambitious policies that direct towards a low carbon future."

Mr Pye, added: "Despite the 2050 target already being challenging, the UK may need to be even more ambitious with actions taken prior to 2050, as evidence shows that a net zero emissions global energy system is likely to be required by the 2070s to limit global warming. Both near and long-term investments need to take into account the transition required after 2050."

Teresa Ribera, Director of IDDRI, said: "The UCL team did a fantastic job. Their study on decarbonization pathways for the UK is the first on a long series of DDPP country reports. These reports which were done by recognized experts in each country with a common and transparent methodology show that each country has its own pathways but that decarbonization is feasible in each context and that it is compatible with development and economic growth. Five months before the Paris Climate conference, this is really inspiring."


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Citation: Stronger action needed to transform the UK's energy system (2015, July 6) retrieved 20 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-07-stronger-action-uk-energy.html
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Jul 06, 2015
We see Britain is still planning to use more nukes. I guess Big Money dies hard. Still without a place to put the waste, they are bogged down with Hinckley, now with questionable metallurgy in the top and bottom caps of the reactor vessels.

Coal and nukes are the biggest producers of radiation in the environment.

Jul 06, 2015
"Coal and nukes are the biggest producers of radiation in the environment."

And yet mankind's mortality rates keep dropping. How long do you think that will continue without fossil and nuclear?

Go ahead if you wish Gcam and mine the earth, plow the fields and truck your food with solar and wind. See how many people die then!

Jul 06, 2015
"And yet mankind's mortality rates keep dropping. How long do you think that will continue without fossil and nuclear?"
----------------------------------------

Did you not see the references I gave Willie regarding the health effects of coal? Want to read about the health effects of radiation? Nukes and coal are the biggest sources of it.

Cleaner fuels means cleaner and longer lives.

Jul 06, 2015
"Cleaner fuels means cleaner and longer lives."

That is not unconditionally true. If you raise the $ cost of energy enough people start to die of starvation, lack of heat or cooling and poverty. There is a direct relationship between the cost of living and energy costs.

Jul 06, 2015
PV power is now going for less than four cents/kWhr. Show me a nuke plant that can do that.

Jul 06, 2015
"PV power is now going for less than four cents/kWhr. Show me a nuke plant that can do that."

Peak perhaps because the grid cannot yet handle intermittent power. Excess power sells at extremely uneconomical prices. That does not mean that a solar plant can sell power at 4 cents/KWH and actually turn a profit or even pay it's costs.

Jul 06, 2015
Actually Gkam I have to congratulate you. That statement about 4c/KWH epitomizes everything that is wrong with the renewable energy movement. Put out false figures by only telling half the story and use them to prove that it is a viable solution.

Try The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth and perhaps you could become credible.

Jul 06, 2015
MR166 when were you in the power business? How do you know whose grid can carry how much additional power at what time?

That $0.04/kWh number is actually being used by municipalities, irrigation systems, co-ops and other electric systems who buy power from PV installations.

"Austin Energy is being offered to buy solar power from developers at record low prices, leading the utility to ask its oversight arm to slow the acceptance of bid in hopes that waiting a little longer or developing the solar itself can get it an even better deal, the Austin Monitor reports.

Response to the utility's request for 600 MW of solar has yeilded a string of declining bids. The most recent bid of under $40 per MWh (less than $0.04 per kWh) was 20% lower than 2014's $0.045 per kWh Recurrent Energy contract price for a 150 MW solar project due online this year. It was only 25% of 2008's $160 per MWh ($0.16 per kWh) bid for the 30 MW Webberville array."

Jul 06, 2015
You folk do not seem to understand the utilities do not generate or buy power unless they can use it. If there are no guaranteed customers, with contracts, nobody is going to build a power station.

The PV generated power is being used now to offset Dirty Power, and every Alternative Energy kWh we can produce puts us ahead. Wind and PV are great for peaking power, just when we need it.

Jul 06, 2015
Hi MR166. :)

Consider the wider picture/system. The alternatives will fill many niches and provide much grid addition power. Some fossil fueled plants will still be involved as necessary, mostly gas/recycled organic waste/renewable biomass. And the number of gas powered plants will be far less than otherwise if all appropriate/local/regional energy alternatives are exploited properly. Win win. Maybe even a small number of Coal plants still used where gas not cheaply available. It's all in the reasonable 'mix' of clean/cheap/safe inputs from whatever 'works' locally/regionally and Nationally for the economy and environment future sustainability/stability. It's not an 'us versus them' thing, it's a 'reasonable complementarity' sort of thing. Good luck to us all. :)


Jul 07, 2015
Reality I would love to see renewables become a cost effective substitute for ALL other forms of energy. But until that happens I will continue to point out pure propaganda when I see it. Now if you can prove to me that renewables are able to sell for 4 cents/KWH without tax or rate payer subsidies and, after all normal business expenses are accounted for, break even I will galdly send both you and Gkam a video of me doing the happy dance while holding a poster supporting green power.

Jul 07, 2015
Reality I would love to see renewables become a cost effective substitute for ALL other forms of energy.

If you add in all costs (anyd why shouldn't we?) then they are already the cheapest - by far.
Do you have any idea how many trillions climate change will cost us? Or how much tens of thousands of years worth of safe storage of nuclear waste costs?

Jul 07, 2015
166, you miss the point of this. We are not bumping egos over sports teams or seeing who is "right", we are discussing my field,and our future. Our opinions come from different places.

You are just misinformed, I think,but open to logic and proof.

Don't go to anybody's discussion of what is happening, go to the real references and make up your own mind. Stay away from political sources, and follow the procedure of Stumpy, who does it correctly. He takes the time to prove what I am too lazy to go justify, thinking folk should already know it, if they debate here.

You folk must have run into some real characters here to have responded to my stories of experience like otto did. I admit it is all unusual, but is really true.

At any rate, I cheer your acceptance of proof if we have it. What do you need?

Jul 07, 2015
"If you add in all costs (anyd why shouldn't we?) then they are already the cheapest - by far.
Do you have any idea how many trillions climate change will cost us? Or how much tens of thousands of years worth of safe storage of nuclear waste costs?"

Since there is no real empirical data on man's contribution to climate change you and I both don't know the costs involved. Storage of nuclear waste is a political issue not a technical or cost issue. Basically today's "Waste" can easily be converted into tomorrow's energy.

Jul 07, 2015
"At any rate, I cheer your acceptance of proof if we have it. What do you need?"

Gkam just prove to me how much it costs, exclusive of subsidies, to provide a substantial number of KWHs of 24/7 electrical energy to a grid using any source of renewables over a network as large as the US.

If it costs less than say 7 cents/KWH I will gladly dance the happy dance with you. That is above the average cost of fossil and nuclear but still a milestone and well worth the price to insure reliable energy into the future.


Jul 07, 2015
"Storage of nuclear waste is a political issue not a technical or cost issue."
-------------------------------------

Oh, good! Because you can make a lot of money by taking it. How much do you want?

Jul 07, 2015
Do you have any idea how many trillions climate change will cost us?

Why don't you tell us, how and where we will incur this cost?
You can start with the last 50 years when man-made climate change supposedly started.

Jul 07, 2015
"Storage of nuclear waste is a political issue not a technical or cost issue."
------------------------------------

Are you completely unaware of Hanford and WIPP?

Jul 07, 2015
Since there is no real empirical data on man's contribution to climate change

Besides the tens of thousands of papers based on hard data you mean?
Sticking your fingers in your ears doesn't make the data go away. Nor does it alter simple physics.

Sure, if you want to live in a little delusional world and believe that nothing we do has any effect - fine. But don't expect this to be much of an argument in any kind of debate with grown-ups.

Jul 07, 2015
Ok Anti I'll bite. In the last 20 years how many degrees of temperature change is man's contribution to Co2 levels responsible for. Please don't forget to include the links that prove the numbers.

Jul 07, 2015
Hi MR166. :)
Reality, I would love to see renewables become a cost effective substitute for ALL other forms of energy.
Like I said in my post to you above, it's a 'mix' of many types, including lesser numbers of fossil gas/coal where they are needed for interim/smoothing etc overall. Alternatives replace most coal/gas plants in some local situations now. It's a matter of working towards a critical mass of interconnectedness of such green power (plus minimal gas/coal).

As for the costs, you must factor in what we have already paid for fossil fuels mining/power already. Health costs are now obvious. Environmental/land pollution/damage are now obvious. Longstanding humongous overt/covert subsidies are now obvious.

Increasing weather extremes/damages are becoming obvious to Insurance Cos and residents; transportation, communication farming etc. Costs of Climate Change effects already under way here in Oz alone dwarf any green alternatives subsidies, implementation. :)

Jul 07, 2015
MR, my question was directed to it's originator, antialias.

Jul 07, 2015
I understand Antigoracle. My question was also aimed at the other Anti, Antialias.

Jul 07, 2015
Oh I am sure that this will work out well!!!!

http://www.breitb...orhoods/

Jul 08, 2015
Ok Anti I'll bite. In the last 20 years how many degrees of temperature change is man's contribution to Co2 levels responsible for

Here's a good writeup what the different observables between man-made causes and natural causes would be (and how it doesn't fit with a 'just natural causes' explanation) ...with numbers. But I'm sure you don't want to read numbers. Your arguments never contain any, so I'm not even sure you know what numbers are or how they can be used for arguments. So go back to lala-land and let the grown-ups save your ignorant behind.
http://www.ucsusa...YAGPuV8E

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