At Low Carbon, we have a fundamental belief: that a low-carbon economy will only be achieved by way of an energy market in which use of traditional fossil fuels is supplanted by five principal renewable technologies. Considered either as standalone energy sources or in combination, these are Solar photovoltaic (PV), Concentrated Solar Power, Wind, Tide and Anaerobic Digestion.
By 2030 the UK must reduce carbon emissions by 60%. This is broadly in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC): an independent statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008 to advise the British Government and devolved administrations on emissions targets.
In a paper published in February 2014, CCC acknowledged that the fierce storms and coastal flooding which marked Winter 2013-14 were consistent with the demonstrable science of a world gradually warming:
- Rising sea levels: over the last 100 years the English Channel
has risen by some 12cm and continues to rise by 1.3cm per
decade. This is due to snow and ice melting from land to sea,
with seawater expanding as it gets warmer. The higher the
seas, the greater the likelihood of storm surges breaching
coastal flood defences.
- Warmer air holding more moisture: as the world warms,
storms produce more rain. Although UK rainfall varies
by the year, evidence points to extreme rainfall becoming
The paper concluded: “As the weather continues to throw up surprises from time to time against a backdrop of climate change, it’s clear we need to invest adequately to ensure protection against future flooding and other extremes.”
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
The Government body has said that investment in renewables worth £110bn must be made by 2020, a stipulation discussed in the National Audit Office report ‘The Government’s long term plans to deliver secure, low carbon and affordable electricity’. With an existing generating capacity of 90GW, DECC states some 30GW of new generating capacity will have to be built by 2020 to maintain security of supply and avoid the risk of power cuts. There are also statutory targets: in addition to the £110bn investment, by 2050 UK greenhouse gas emissions must be at least 80% from 1990 levels – a situation that can only be achieved by way of full decarbonisation before 2040.
Europe’s fastest growing energy market is for renewables*.
With technology fully proven, significant upscaling in the last few years has increased the cost-competitiveness of renewable energy, with less market volatility in relation to its fossil-derived equivalent.
Since 2005, global investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart energy technologies has exceeded $1 trillion. And a genuine low carbon economy is believed to be within reach. But to meet global 2020 emissions reduction targets and place a brake on climate change, continuation of this investment trend is vital. It can only be done with renewables.
*Source: International Energy Agency, Medium Term Market