Lobbyists for the UK’s low-carbon power makers have come together to voice their frustration at the Johnson government’s supposed vagueness over Britain’s energy future.
In December BEIS published its Energy White paper, its 170 pages containing only three mentions of local renewables or community energy. Expected later this summer is the government’s proposals for delivering its Net Zero commitments by 2050, including by 2035 a reduction of 78% of 1990-level emissions.
RenewableUK, Solar Energy UK and the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) argue in a joint statement that the government should go further, committing to a net zero grid by 2035, with Britain’s electricity being sourced from anything except gas, coal or oil.
The three organisations warn the UK’s traded carbon price needs to fit with delivering a carbon-neutral grid. Stability in carbon’s market price will reassure investors in clean energy, and thus speed up fossil fuels’ exit from generation.
This week saw the launch of Britain’s post-Brexit equivalent of the EU’s Carbon Trading Scheme. The UK price for intraday trading stands steady at £50.00 per tonne. Longer term contracts are marginally cheaper.
Solar Energy UK and wind lobbyists RenewableUK repeat their previous insistence that the government should set 2030 as a baseline for committed amounts of capacity in both technologies.
According to Melanie Orr, RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, D-BEIS should add to its commitment to 40GW of fixed turbines offshore, fostering in addition 2GW more of floating masts, 30GW of onshore wind, 1GW of marine wind energy, and 5GW ring-fenced to electrolyse hydrogen.
Britain’s solar industry aims for 40GW of PV installed by 2030, up from around 14 GW now. Solar Energy UK chief executive Chris Hewett said the UK needed to keep pace with growing solar deployment worldwide.
NIA head Tom Greatrex, a former Labour energy spokesperson, stressed, “We know that nuclear and renewables work well together to cut emissions, and that a strong low-carbon energy mix is our future.”
He called for new financing mechanisms to foster small nuclear plants. Both were needed to preserve current capacity, against the planned retirement of ageing nuclear stations before 2030.
In response, BEIS cited the Energy White Paper, adding, “We are clear we need to fully decarbonise electricity by 2050 as part of our commitment to building back better and greener from the coronavirus pandemic, and reach our ambitious emissions targets.”