Earlier this month, Joule Centre staff attended the launch of the Committee on Climate Change's report on ‘Building a Low Carbon Economy’, which argues the importance of continued investment in low carbon technologies.
The Committee recommends that the UK should focus on the development and deployment of at least 6 technologies:
1. Offshore wind – likely to be the least cost path for decarbonising the power sector and meeting the UK’s 2020 15% renewable energy target. The UK requires 13GW of offshore wind capacity to be developed, requiring up to £50 million per annum in funding for Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D).
2. Marine (wave and tidal) – the UK has the potential to be a world leader in this area and has significant natural resources, estimated at 65GW per year. UK-based companies have world-leading expertise in marine engineering and design.
3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – technology to remove carbon from coal and gas power generation will be crucial to meeting the target. The UK is strong on subsurface evaluation and geotechnical engineering because of the North Sea oil and gas developments.
4. Smart grids and meters – the UK has research expertise and industrial capabilities in key smart grid technologies including electrical machinery, power electronics and communications.
5. Electric vehicles – the UK has the expertise to design and build electric cars. Funding needs to be protected for the purchase of electric cars (£230m) and to support the development of a national battery charging network (£30m). Investment of up to £800 million will be required to meet the CCC’s target to have 1.7 million electric cars on the road by 2020.
6. Aviation – UK-based companies are globally competitive in design and manufacture of advanced wings and aeroengines. Public support for radical technologies (e.g. blended wing) will be necessary to achieve UK targets.
The UK should also deploy nuclear power, advanced insulation technologies, CCS for industry, and heat pumps. The UK should invest in research and development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, technologies in agriculture and industry, 3rd generation solar PV technologies, electricity storage and advanced bio-fuels technologies.
Lastly, the Committee find that there is a lack of clarity in the institutional landscape that supports low-carbon innovation. The funding environment is complex and can be difficult for business to navigate. A strengthened institutional framework – with clear objectives, desired outcomes and responsibilities, and improved monitoring and information flows – is required to ensure that public money is well spent and to increase investor confidence.
The challenge for the new Government is to set a clear strategy out to 2050 to focus resources on the right suite of low-carbon technologies and guide the various delivery bodies to ensure that public funding delivers long-term environmental and economic benefits.
Download the full report