Wind and solar energy programmes are set to decline—and the government reckons this is progressby Alan Whitehead / November 14, 2018 / Leave a comment
There are two loud noises currently being heard in the debate around greening the energy economy. One is a raucous procession of claims from the government about just how well we are doing in greening our energy mix, and how we are set to continue that progress over the next decade. The other is a series of increasingly testy reports from the Committee on Climate Change.
Most recently, the Climate Change Committee produced a striking graphic in its 2018 report to parliament: 75 per cent of emissions reductions since 2012 have come from the power sector: all other sectors remain flat in emission levels, including that of heat—a far larger component of energy emissions. The government counters: we have reduced our emissions by 43 per cent since 1990, and with the publication of the Clean Growth Plan will be about 95 per cent of the way to meeting the terms of the fifth carbon budget.
Who is right in all this? It depends to some extent in what direction you measure achievement. The UK has had some success in decarbonising power, and the overall reduction in emissions since 1990 looks impressive: but when we come to the big questions about how we approach the next and crucial stages of decarbonising energy to play a dominant role in realising our carbon budgets, the locker looks very bare.
We have made great strides in off-shore wind and we will continue to do so and the likelihood is that off-shore wind will double by the end of the 2020s. But at the same time, cheaper and more extensively deployed onshore wind is set to dwindle as support is withdrawn and a ban on deployment in England and Wales takes hold. There is also more solar deployed in volume than offshore wind, but a similar withdrawal of support will see new capacity grind to an almost complete standstill over the next few years.
Other forms of renewable power such as tidal have suffered a crushing blow recently with the failure of the government to back the Swansea Tidal Lagoon, set to be the precursor of a range of lagoons able to provide perhaps 6 per cent of our power needs over the next 50 years.
Measures to stimulate new renewable heating…