A new report from University College London (UCL) has urged the government to prioritise low-cost renewable energy by increasing investment in the likes of onshore wind, as well as coordinating more efficient investment in network infrastructure and power generation.
The report, produced on behalf of sustainable energy alliance the Aldersgate Group, also recommended that the UK leaves the EU in such a way, that increased interconnection with power grids and electricity to ensure trading in Europe is properly supported.
Interestingly, it was found that industry here in the UK pays on average a third more for electricity than many similar places in Europe, which have already reaped the benefits of more long-term supply contracts and cross-border trading, as well as better interconnections.
“With costs tumbling, the clean energy revolution presents an opportunity for UK industry. But harnessing the benefits will require removing the obstacles to mature renewables including onshore wind, and helping business consumers profit from flexibility.
“It also means ensuring that both fossil fuels and renewables face their environmental and system costs along with developing smarter energy markets, through which industry can procure its energy efficiently with the most cost-effective renewables,” lead author of the report professor Michael Grubb commented.
Recommendations put forward in the report include removing investment barriers to mature renewable projects, given the fact that – as long as political risks are minimised – technologies like onshore wind don’t need subsidies any more. The carbon price escalator should also be resumed, coming into force as soon as it is expected that coal will be retired from our system in the 2020s. This would give investors confidence that they can save on fuel and increased carbon costs.
It was also suggested that the five-year review of the Electricity Market Reform and Capacity Market be used to help industrial electricity consumers benefit from providing system-related services to the electricity system, like frequency and demand-shifting support.
Executive director of the Aldersgate Group Nick Molho made further comments, saying that electro-intensive companies have a pivotal role to play in the country’s move to a low carbon economy. And the government already has access to a diverse set of tools to be able to provide competitively priced power to such firms in the future… including making sure that Brexit doesn’t create obstacles for increased cross-border trading and interconnection with the electricity market in Europe.
Further research from thinktank Sandbag has also just revealed that new renewables generation rose sharply last year, with solar, wind and biomass overtaking coal for the very first time. These three climbed by 12 per cent in 2017 to reach 679 Terawatt hours, which the report authors say is incredible progress… just five years ago, generation of coal was over twice that of solar, biomass and wind.
However, it was also found that renewables growth has increasingly become more uneven, with a bias towards wind and the UK and Germany the only ones contributing to 56 per cent of this growth in the last three years.
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