Solar Photovoltaics (PV)
Solar power is one of the world’s fastest-growing renewable energy technologies. By 2050 Solar PV is expected to produce around 22% of global electricity: the equivalent of saving more than 3 Gigatonnes of CO2.
Wind Energy is a proven well-developed source of renewable energy. With Britain’s and Europe’s favourable and often windy climate, wind energy is both viable and highly effective. With a total net installed capacity of 189 GW, wind energy is the second largest form of power generation capacity in Europe.
Concentrated Solar Power
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is where sunlight is converted to thermal energy to heat water. Lenses or mirrors are used to reflect and focus sunlight onto a receiver where the concentrated light is converted to heat. This thermal energy in turn produces electricity via a turbine or a heat engine connected to a generator.
Energy storage has a crucial role to play in both the management of energy supply in the UK and in the wider uptake of renewable energy technologies in the future. As the UK’s energy requirements continue to grow, storage technologies and projects will help to ensure that energy is always available where it is needed.
Energy Efficiency is essential in helping both businesses and consumers to reduce their energy consumption. It is also central to helping the UK to deliver on the commitment it made by signing the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 relative to 1990 levels.
Hydropower and Tidal Energy
Hydropower plants use the force of moving water to generate electricity. The water is used to turn blades in a turbine which in turn spins a generator to produce electricity. Hydropower comes from the Greek word “hydro”, which means “water” a source of energy we have been benefiting from for centuries.
Waste to Energy
Much of our biodegradable waste, from food and garden detritus to cardboard and paper, is sent to landfill. Once deposited in these sites it breaks down and releases methane, a powerful and complex gaseous compound which contributes to the greenhouse effect.
An Overview of Renewable Energy Investment and the Importance of Tackling Climate Change
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 more common.
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.”
Climate Change by Degree. An Overview of How Global Warming Will Affect the Planet
Scientists predict an increase in the average temperature of the planet’s surface of 1.4°C and 5.8°C by the close of this century.*
- +1°C warmer: deterioration of mountain glaciers and coral reefs, rain
forests, ice sheets in Greenland, US midwest arable farmland; 10%
productivity loss in Bangladeshi farming – a loss of 4m tonnes ($2.5bn)
of food grain, or 2% of GDP.
- +2°C warmer: forests destroyed by insects normally dead in winter;
polar bears endangered; some Pacific islands completely submerged.
- +3°C warmer: the tipping point, according to scientists; extinction
of thousands of species; Category-6 hurricanes now the regular norm,
not the exception.
- +4°C warmer: population migration as refugees escape famine and
draught-stricken regions; general sea levels rise by up to 48 inches,
destroying coastal cities.
- +5°C warmer: vast regions are now uninhabitable, with many millions on
- +6°C warmer: a return to how the Earth looked 65 million years ago
during the dinosaur-inhabited Cretaceous period; most of the planet
is now desert.
*Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Carbon (from Latin: carbo, or charcoal) is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. Carbon takes several forms, or allotropes, the best-known being the hardest naturally-occurring substance, diamond, and one of the softest, graphite.
All known life on Earth is based on compounds of carbon. However, there is growing and increasingly persuasive evidence that excessive emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a gaseous compound produced by the burning and respiration of carbon-based fuel and foodstuffs, is significantly contributing to global warming.
Down-to-earth: some plain facts about carbon dioxide
- A single gallon of petrol produces 19.4lbs of atmospheric CO2;
a gallon of diesel emits 22.2lbs
- Driving a car 3000 miles can produce a ton of CO2 – some six tons
per year on average
- Heating a single house annually produces around four tons of CO2,
and another eight tons for electrical power
- The electrical energy consumed by a sizeable refrigerator and
a large plasma-screen TV is roughly equal at about 400 watts.
That’s about 1,500lbs of CO2 in one year
- The CO2 produced by air travel is more likely to affect climate
change since the compound is released directly into the upper
atmosphere, not at lower levels.
How Climate Change Will Have an Economic Impact on Society
Britain’s own challenges
According to an October 2013 report conducted by the Government and the consultant PwC, climate change due to global warming will have a induced changes in the infrastructures of developing countries. As patterns of global crop farming are altered, for example, supplies of food and raw materials are likely to recede. This in turn will mean ever-higher prices and the potential for instability and civil unrest.
Damage to agricultural production is already contributing internationally to deaths from diseases associated with poverty and malnutrition, whilst air pollution due to fossil fuel use is contributing to around 4.5m deaths every year*. By 2030, floods, draughts and the most severe storms could remove 2% from US GDP*.
In China, this cost could be $1.2 trillion*. As international trade in the commodities and services crucial for business and shareholder value shrinks to a footnote, the preservation of a civil and thriving society can only be at the gravest possible risk.
- 400,000 deaths annually from climate change is wiping 1.6% per
year from global GDP*
- Cost to the world economy of climate change is almost $1.3 trillion*
- Within less than 16 years the cost to global GDP of air pollution
and climate change will increase to 3.2%*
- The GDP of developing countries is expected to fall by more
*Source: DARA, Climate Vulnerable Forum
Perhaps most visibly and frequently, climate change in Britain finds expression in flooding. Winter 2013-14 has been especially challenging, with thousands of people watching helplessly as huge storms have breached inadequate flood defences and wrought appalling damage to their homes and businesses.
Yet as long ago as 2006, the insurance industry identified flood damage in many high-risk areas as uninsurable. In the six years prior to a report by AXA Insurance on how climate change affects SMEs, weather-related damage claims cost the British insurance sector more than £9 billion. Of this, over £2.5 billion was business-related. The report also forecast that sea-level rises would directly threaten an estimated three million people in the UK, and that business hubs and population centres, among them London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Newcastle, Norwich and Peterborough, may all risk flooding.. The economic consequences should we fail to arrest the march of climate change would be incalculable.
“In my view, climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today – more serious even than that of terrorism.”
Prof Sir David King, former UK Chief Scientific Advisor