UK Clean Growth Strategy; is a low carbon UK now inevitable?

Just days ago, the Government published its Clean Growth Strategy, in which it promises to lead the world in cost effective clean growth.

Entitled ‘The Clean Growth Strategy: Leading the way to a low carbon future,’ can the document really set out a blueprint to an energy efficient, low carbon UK?

Clean Growth; the details

The overarching driver behind the Strategy is to maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from the low carbon transition.

The document promises to create low carbon economic opportunities, through the creation of new technologies and new businesses, building jobs and prosperity across the UK along with ambitious national targets to tackle climate change.

On the numbers; over £2.5 billion will be invested in low carbon innovation from 2015 to 2021. This funding covers low carbon energy, transport, agriculture and waste.

This includes up to £505 million from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Innovation Programme, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes.

It’s estimated that in total, all this cash can help the low carbon economy grow 11% per year between 2015 and 2030; faster than the rest of the economy.

There will be up to £10 million for innovations that provide low carbon heat in domestic and commercial buildings, plus £10 million for innovations that improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, and an extra £14 million for the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund.

Carbon Capture and Utilisation gets £20 million, while another £20 million will demonstrate the viability of switching to low carbon fuels for industry. Another £20 million will support clean technology early stage funding.

An as yet uncosted package of measures will help businesses improve their energy productivity by at least 20% by 2030.

Striking measures

There is more. The Government will phase out the use of unabated coal to produce electricity by 2025, and invest around £841 million of public funds in innovation in low carbon transport technology and fuels.

It will also spend £1 billion supporting the takeup of ultra low emission vehicles, including helping consumers to overcome the upfront cost of an electric car. It will also work towards the ambition for zero avoidable waste by 2050.

Clean Growth; the verdict

PwC, generally a fair and impartial voice on UK sustainability, said that presently the UK leads the G20 on clean growth and is decoupling emissions from economic growth significantly faster than its peers.

“The Clean Growth Strategy should continue the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy,” Jonathan Grant, PwC sustainability director and Low Carbon Economy Index author, said.

“There’s no denying that the Government’s new Strategy offers some compelling drivers, both financial and strategic, to further deliver the low carbon UK we already know represents our future,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“At Energys we are particularly delighted to see promises of £10 million for buildings energy efficiency; we are primed and ready to help put this money to work in the best possible way.”

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5 things you need to know about this year’s party conferences and energy

We round-up the key issues in energy which the UK’s political parties are grappling with at their respective conferences.

1. Energy prices won’t go away

According to this i news briefing, MPs of all parties are demanding Theresa May keeps her promise to curb big energy price rises.

It claims Theresa May is facing a growing Tory rebellion before her party’s conference, over failing to act on a manifesto commitment to cap electricity and gas bills for 17 million families across the UK.

The government signalled on Thursday 28 September that it was prepared to legislate to curb excessive price rises if the regulator Ofgem failed to produce adequate proposals to combat profiteering.

2. Labour to re-nationalise energy

Metro writes that John McDonnell has confirmed that Labour will re-nationalise railways, water, energy and Royal Mail, if in power.

“Building an economy for the many also means bringing ownership and control of the utilities and key services into the hands of people who use and work in them. Rail, water, energy, Royal Mail: we’re taking them back.” he said.

3. Brexit trumps energy

Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says feedback from MPs suggests it is difficult to predict what will be happening in Parliament over the next couple of months following conferences. “The prime ministership is very fragile,” he told Utility Week.

But others are more candid; saying there’s little doubt which issue will be most on Tory activists’ minds when they assemble in Manchester. “The Tory party will be dominated by Brexit, I’m afraid,” says Tim Yeo, the Conservative former Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

4. But, there is hope…

However, Luke Clark, Head of Public Affairs at Renewable UK, believes the consensus around the need to decarbonise the energy mix has strengthened over the past year.

“Across the parties there is a very strong majority in favour of continued development of renewables. Very few fringe voices are questioning the direction of travel,” was his takeaway for Utility Week.

5. Nuclear is in the mix

The sense is that nuclear power will continue to be under the spotlight at the Tory conference, with environmentalists calling for a rethink of government support following the dramatic reduction in offshore wind prices thrown up by the recent contracts for difference auction.

The nuclear lobby will be heartened that BEIS Secretary Greg Clark’s biggest energy speaking slot on the Tory fringe will be an hour-long Q&A at a Nuclear Industry Association meeting.

“There’s so much electricity capacity coming off in the next 10 to 15 years that we need to develop all of the low-carbon options available to us and that includes nuclear,” says Peter Haslam, Head of Policy at the Nuclear Industry Association.

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