Government “asleep at the wheel” on electricity decarbonisation – new report

The government was urged today to speed up the shift to decarbonised electricity, after it was accused of being “asleep at the wheel”.

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A report by the Climate Change Committee, which advises ministers, said the government did not have “a coherent strategy” for achieving its goal of decarbonising the electricity supply by 2035.

It had also failed to give details of how it would encourage investment and infrastructure over the next 12 years.

A decarbonised power system is critical to achieving the government’s legally-binding target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), said the war in Ukraine had illustrated the importance of energy security and a reliable energy system, based on renewable resources. He said:

“We know how to do this, but Government is asleep at the wheel.

“Recent commitments for new nuclear and renewables are welcome, but these alone are insufficient.

“A rapid overhaul of the planning system and regulations is needed. It is not clear where the responsibility lies for the design and operations of our modern energy system rests among key organisations.

“Countries around the world are now racing for this goal. The UK is further ahead than most, but we risk losing our early lead at the worst possible time.”

Since 2010, emissions from electricity generation have fallen 69%. The CCC said cheap, decarbonised electricity for all consumers and businesses was now within reach.

But it said actions were needed in a wide range of areas. Some were in train and on track. Others needed to be accelerated. Barriers must be removed to the quick deployment of infrastructure.

The CCC said:

“Delivery and deployment of infrastructure must be achieved at a much greater pace than the present regulatory, planning and consenting regimes can achieve.”

It said there were gaps in the current set of actions. Roles and responsibilities in delivering the system also needed clarification.

The CCC’s report said access to reliable, resilient and plentiful decarbonised electricity, at an affordable price, would reduce the UK’s dependence on imported oil and gas.

The consequent dramatic reduction in gas consumption would, it said, cut our exposure to volatile international fossil fuel markets, with greater reliance on homegrown low-cost renewables.

Electricity decarbonisation would also allow full decarbonisation of other sectors, such as transport, industry and heat, the CCC said.

The report makes 25 recommendations for meeting the 2035 target. These include:

  • Ensure new gas plants are ready for carbon capture and storage or hydrogen by 2025 at the latest
  • Plan future system designs to cope with climate hazards
  • Identify strategic investments needed for a decarbonised electricity supply
  • Launch the next selection process for carbon capture and storage projects as soon as possible

The proposals assumed a 50% increase in demand for electricity by 2035 and could cope with a prolonged periods of low wind speed and high electricity.

A “small amount” of unabated fossil gas capacity in 2035 was compatible with a decarbonised power system, the CCC said. This would be used occasionally to balance the system and ensure security of supply, it said.

But the CCC said using hydrogen in place of efficient electrification would be a much less efficient use of domestic energy resources, leading to a greater need for imported energy.


Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said:

“This is a damning assessment of government progress on building a secure, homegrown and green energy system.

“Ministers must up their game if the UK is to deliver on legally binding carbon reduction targets and provide householders and businesses with clean, affordable energy.

“They should start by rapidly removing the barriers to onshore wind, cranking-up the development of offshore wind and reforming the unfair windfall tax on renewable energy companies which will drive investors overseas.“

  • The report, Delivering a reliable decarbonised power system, is on the CCC website.

26 replies »

    • MARTIN ,

      OK , as long as the readers are crystal clear , that what you are saying is your own OPINION.

      I think after munching through a bucket full of your ,Wild Off-The-Cuff Collywaffle, trying to split hairs on which scientists have the ” greatest ” knowledge regarding climate change …… We’ll leave it to the readers to choose .

      Ladies and Gentlemen the choice is simple , you can either side with the scientists at NASA , or take the ” OPINION ” of MARTIN 🤣

      Here is what NASA say ,

  1. Well, Jack, as you have recently posted yourself that your posts are ignored by the Ladies and Gentlemen, that would imply your hairs will not be split!

    Wild Off-The-Cuff-exactly Jack, they will if they read your offer regarding Ukraine and your OPINION of their reaction to the situation be very aware of Wild Off-The-Cuff statements, projecting your OPINIONS onto their values.

    Meanwhile, I note the announcement this am that UK is to spend £billions more on defence, and the only significant comment around that I can determine here in UK, is it should be more! I await the debate in HoC about it, but I suspect the vast majority of MPs will be following that pathway as they reflect their understanding of what their constituents want their money invested in. Sorry Jack, I feel your OPINION is, once again, going to be ignored.

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