The Informer

This week’s headlines: Urgent action is called for to help onshore wind play its part in achieving net zero; new figures fuel fears that growing energy demand could hit emissions reduction progress; a business lobby group has called on the next government to embark on a decade of climate action; and a tidal energy firm unveils plans for a crowdfunding drive.

  • Call for urgent action to stimulate new onshore wind

    The UK’s onshore wind capacity is forecast to fall 40% short of its target by 2030 if urgent action isn’t taken, according to a warning from trade body RenewableUK.

    The Committee on Climate Change had previously advised the UK Government that capacity would need to expand by 1GW each year from 13.5GW at present to 35GW by 2035, crossing the 29GW threshold in 2030, in order to meet the 2050 net-zero emissions target.

    New research by RenewableUK has found that if the UK follows its current trends then capacity will only rise to 17.8GW by 2030 and could struggle to rise by just 1GW under a lower-growth scenario.

    The current pace of expansion would rely on power purchase agreements and the replacement of older turbines with more powerful models, while allowing onshore wind farms to compete for Contracts for Difference could trigger a high-growth scenario with a 24.4GW expansion of capacity.

    Rebecca Williams, Head of Policy & Regulation at RenewableUK, said: “Onshore wind is the single largest renewable power source in the UK and you can’t be credible on net zero unless you’re serious about onshore wind.”

    Read more

  • Rising global energy demand risks climate change goals

    A new report has warned that growing demand for power could jeopardise the Paris Agreement’s climate change goals.

    Capgemini’s annual World Energy Markets Observatory (WEMO) study found that economic growth led to a 2.8% rise in global energy consumption during 2018 – nearly twice the average rate since 2010 – with oil, gas and coal providing 75% of the extra power, their highest share for five years.

    Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 2% in 2018, rising above the plateau they reached between 2014 and 2016.

    Renewables remain the fastest-growing power source, but investments slowed by 14% year-on-year during the opening half of 2019.

    The WEMO said: “Population growth, as well as a lack of anticipated technical breakthroughs over the next two decades, further contribute to a bleak medium- and long-term landscape.”

    Read more

  • CBI challenges government to kickstart decade of climate action

    CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn used her speech at the business organisation’s “Low-Carbon 2020s” conference to call on the next government to trigger a “decade of climate action.”

    On renewable energy, the CBI wants to see onshore wind farms being allowed to compete for Contracts for Difference, alongside offshore wind farms, as well as measures to stimulate the nuclear power industry.

    When it comes to transport and heating, the organisation has called for large investments, especially to development an electric vehicle charging network that includes rural areas.

    The business body has also called for the carbon dioxide emitted when creating products imported to the UK to be included in the UK’s greenhouse gas calculations, and to publish such figures alongside its regular gross domestic product updates.

    “It would be a radically new way to measure growth and focus minds on our net-zero goal — with the fullest, clearest picture of our emissions footprint possible,” Fairbairn said.

    Read more

  • Renewables drives 69% fall in GHG intensity of UK energy

    The UK’s greenhouse gas intensity dropped by 69% between 1990 and 2018, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    The fall was driven by increased use of renewable energy, with emissions of carbon dioxide-equivalent from the power sector down from 217 million tonnes in 1990 to around 96 million tonnes in 2018.

    Greenhouse gas intensity is calculated by dividing emissions by the gross value added to economy.

    ONS said that the only European Union countries to have lower greenhouse gas intensities than the UK were Austria, France, Luxembourg and Sweden.

    The figure for the UK economy as a whole was flat from 2017 to 2018.

    Read more

  • Tidal energy firm plans crowdfunding push to accelerate progress

    Nova Innovation has unveiled plans to raise £500,000 through a crowdfunding platform.

    The cash raised on Seedrs will be used to accelerate the tidal energy company’s expansion into Europe and North America.

    Edinburgh-based Nova installed the world’s first tidal array off the coast in Shetland in 2016 and last year added a Tesla battery to the array.

    Chief Executive Simon Forrest said: “Nova’s tidal technology offers the ability to deliver baseload power to the grid, giving it the opportunity to displace coal, diesel and nuclear – something solar and wind are unable to do.”

    “With the climate emergency and a global hunger for clean, sustainable energy, the time is right to invest in additional sources of renewable energy.”

    Read more