- Statistical release: provisional figures for 2010 greenhouse gas emissions, and final figures for 2009 greenhouse gas emissions
31 March 2011
DECC Press Release: 2011/033
DECC today publishes provisional 2010 estimates of UK greenhouse gas emissions, together with final estimates of 2009 UK greenhouse gas emissions by fuel type and end-user.
Commenting on today’s publication of provisional greenhouse gas emissions statistics for 2010, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said:
“Britain’s blighted by inefficient and draughty homes which is why we want to help people waste less energy through the Green Deal and install new cleaner technologies to heat their homes.
“As we come out of recession the Coalition’s determined to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. That’s why we are pushing on all fronts to turn around Britain’s woeful record on renewables.”
Greenhouse gas emissions – 2010 headline results
- In 2010, UK emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were provisionally estimated to be 582.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. This was 2.8 per cent higher than the 2009 figure of 566.3 million tonnes.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for about 84 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, the latest year for which final results are available. In 2010, UK net emissions of carbon dioxide were provisionally estimated to be 491.7 million tonnes (Mt). This was 3.8 per cent higher than the 2009 figure of 473.7 Mt.
- Between 2009 and 2010, there were increases in CO2 emissions from most of the main sectors. The provisional estimates show increases in emissions of 13.4 per cent (10.1 Mt) from the residential sector, 3.3 per cent (6.0 Mt) from the energy supply sector, and 2.4 per cent (1.8 Mt) from the business sector. Emissions from the transport sector were relatively stable, down by just 0.1 per cent (0.2 Mt). All these sectoral breakdowns are based on the source of the emissions, as opposed to where the end-user activity occurred. Emissions related to electricity generation are therefore attributed to power stations, the source of these emissions, rather than homes and businesses where electricity is used.
- The increase in CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010 resulted primarily from a rise in residential gas use, combined with fuel switching away from nuclear power to coal and gas for electricity generation.
The full statistical release provides a summary report based on 2010 provisional results for UK greenhouse gas emissions and emissions by end-user sector for 2009.
- In 2010, UK emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were provisionally estimated to be 582.4 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent. This was 2.8 per cent higher than the 2009 figure of 566.3 million tonnes.
- Chris Huhne statement on Earth Hour
26 March 2011
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said:
“Earth Hour is important because it gives a voice to the large number of ordinary people who are concerned about climate change. People who take action in their own lives to reduce carbon emissions and set an example to others every day are a real force for good when it comes to tackling climate change, and we at the Department of Energy and Climate Change will be showing solidarity and taking part in Earth Hour.”
- New Refit West report on real homeowner retrofit journeys
I can, rather sadly, quote the stats and policy targets in my sleep… 27 million homes in the UK… 27% of carbon emissions… 70% owner occupied… built environment to be near zero carbon by 2050… 80% of the homes we will live in on 2050 have already been built… but what does all of this really mean?
In essence it shows that we need to be retrofitting each and every one of the country’s domestic properties to reduce emissions by between 60 and 100 percent* at a rate of 6 homes a minute** for the next 40 years!
The figures are huge, the speed and scale of the transformation of our homes simply staggering and the effects of just this one element of the transition to a low carbon economy virtually unknown. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before and yet none of it is rocket science.
We need to be innovative and pragmatic, and take the best of many areas including: the flexibility of the building trades; the communication and marketing of ICT and retail; and yes, the ever evolving tools and mechanisms of the finance community. It is also essential that we learn from past major transformation programmes and that we get the enabling structures right. We welcome the Government’s Green Deal and have been working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change to support its ongoing development.
But it’s still far from clear what this actually means for the consumer. What decisions will they be required to make? How will they make these? And what implications are there for the long term value of their home?
I have written about Refit West before, Forum’s project to address this issue. We’ve been working with private homeowners to learn from their experience and support them through their retrofit journeys. Our new report, ‘Update from the Front Line: real homeowner retrofit journeys and barriers the Green Deal must overcome’ is available today and the topic of a 2degrees webinar on Friday 25th March. It shares some of the key lessons and insights that we can offer into the homeowner journey and into how to deliver a successful retrofit scheme across the country.
From the survey being technically accurate and responding to the homeowner’s motivations, through to bridging the skills gap in the building trades, we must develop trust and confidence in this new system. We need the planning system to enable change, rather than present a piece-meal and localised approach to conservation and permitted development. And we need estate agents, mortgage companies, surveyors and the capital markets to understand the future benefits of domestic energy efficiency and microgeneration.
We’re certainly not alone in working on this aspect of the housing challenge and have been collaborating with Bristol Green Doors, the Energy Saving Trust and others across the country to raise the profile, available information and trust through open-doors events. These have been a huge success, allowing interested homeowners to physically get to grips with the measures they are considering and to learn from some of those we trust the most, our neighbours.
It’s been an engaging and challenging project and above all a personal experience, being invited into people’s homes as they wrestled with the challenges of domestic retrofit. We love our homes in this country and have one of the highest homeownership rates in the world. This presents us with a virtually unique challenge and opportunity for action.
Just before you move on I’d like to ask you to reconsider the scale of the challenge and the benefits if we get it right, but also that we’re already a dozen homes behind schedule since you started reading this piece.
* The exact figures will depend on how much we will rely on a decarbonised electricity grid and low or zero carbon district heating.
** This is calculated based on 8 hour days Monday to Friday.
A recording of the webinar held by Ben Ross and Refit West homeowner Chris Priest on 25th March is now available on the 2degreesnetwork website for registered members of 2degrees.
- Chris Huhne delivers CPRE annual lecture (Speech)
24 March 2011
Check against delivery
Thanks very much. I’m delighted to be here today.
Eighty-five years ago, a small group gathered here in London changed the landscape of Britain forever.
Led by a reluctant statesman, they published a document whose impact on the countryside is felt to this day.
I am not referring to Sir Patrick Abercrombie and the pamphlet he wrote that brought the CPRE into existence.
No, I speak of Stanley Baldwin’s government – and the Electricity Supply Act of 1926.
In creating the Central Electricity Board and the first national grid, the Act brought Britain into the modern age.
For electrification is one of modernity’s defining achievements.
It is the cornerstone on which our technical progress rests; everything from the washing machine to the scanning electron microscope depends on it.
And when the world’s first public electricity supply was connected – in 1881, in Godalming – it marked a fundamental change not just in our landscape, but in the social contract.
From that day, it became increasingly clear that government had a core responsibility to ensure electricity supplies are safe, secure and affordable.
In the past, we did so with coal and gas.
Now, we are looking toward a low-carbon future. One where clean, green power keeps the lights on and the skies clear.
There are many different paths to that destination. Each will bring about real changes.
The energy choices we make now will determine the shape of the landscape for generations to come.
This is nothing new.
Throughout our history, our choice of energy has affected our environment.
The fuel that has driven economic and social progress has also driven change on our landscape.
Six thousand years ago, three quarters of Britain was woodlands. By the time of the Domesday survey, forest cover in England had fallen to just 15%.
Trees were cleared to make way for food; to build houses, weapons, and ships. By 1700, we were dependent on imported timber. Britain’s ancient forests were stripped bare.
When the Industrial Revolution began, charcoal was used to smelt the iron on which Britain’s prosperity was built.
The Forestry Commission estimates that a single furnace needed 10,000 acres of deciduous woodland to run.
A new addiction
In the nineteenth century, everything changed again. Industrial progress meant coke and coal were now the fuels of choice. And so our landscape was altered again.
By 1900, over 200 million tonnes of coal were being mined in Britain. Nearly a million people were employed in over 3,000 mines.
Surface coal mining only peaked twenty years ago. In 1991, 17 million tonnes of coal were open-cast mined at 135 sites across in the UK.
Our hunger for coal left deep scars upon the landscape, some of which remain to this day.
And it brought serious consequences for the wider environment.
It is no coincidence that the term ‘acid rain’ was coined in Manchester by a Scottish scientist.
Nor that coal – and its contribution to London’s ‘Great Smog’ – resulted in one of the first pieces of modern environmental legislation, the Clean Air Act of 1956.
In the half century since then, our energy mix has become more diverse.
As British coal production tapered off, nuclear power and natural gas plants have helped provide us with cheap and secure energy. And with full electrification in the 20th century came the National Grid, power stations and pylons.
Now we face another change. Over the next decade, we must rebalance our energy system.
A quarter of our nuclear and coal power plants will shut down by 2020.
In the face of tough global competition and a difficult financial environment, we must attract record investment in new energy.
More than £110 billion is needed for new power stations and grid upgrades over the next decade.
Not just to meet growing demand and shrinking supply – but also to meet our climate change targets.
By the end of this decade, the UK must cut its carbon emissions by 34% on 1990 levels. And we must generate 15% of our energy from renewables.
It’s important not to forget why we are doing this.
As the Chief Executive of Natural England said, climate change is ‘the biggest issue facing the natural environment’.
I am, of course, am preaching to the converted.
Two years ago, the CPRE supported a study that looked at how a changing climate could change the landscape.
In South East England, beech trees could be badly affected. Pomegranates and olives could replace potatoes and onions. And the hedgehog could disappear from the South East in just 15 years time.
This isn’t just about future risk either. It’s already happening. As Natural England has observed, the timing of natural events is changing.
Spring comes sooner. Autumn lasts longer. Habitats are changing and species distribution is changing with it.
And earlier this year, researchers found that human greenhouse gas emissions may have roughly doubled the chances of the autumn 2000 floods.
We can now clearly link extreme events and their effects to the rise in man-made greenhouse gases.
So let’s be realistic: climate change is not just a far-off possibility, unlikely and impossible to foresee.
It is happening now, with every barrel of oil we burn and every tanker of gas we use.
The threat posed by climate change is simply too big and too close to ignore. It is a global problem with local consequences.
That means yes, we must do everything we can on the international stage to get an agreement to cut carbon emissions.
But we also have to make the case for the low-carbon revolution here at home.
We need a diverse, secure and sustainable energy mix, delivered with long-term strategic oversight. Providing clean, green energy to 2050 and beyond.
Our plan for low-carbon energy rests on four pillars.
The first is renewables – like onshore and offshore wind, biomass, energy from waste, solar, marine and micro hydro power.
The second pillar is new nuclear – without public subsidy, and with liabilities covered by developers, who will pay the full cost of waste disposal and decommissioning?
The third pillar is clean coal and gas, delivered by carbon capture and storage. Giving us flexible and reliable energy – without the carbon consequences.
The important thing is to spread the risk, rather than putting all our eggs in one basket. It’s the same principle as managing a pension fund.
To encourage low-carbon investment, we are changing the electricity market.
Under our proposals, all low-carbon technologies will benefit from support by virtue of being low carbon. Pioneer technologies like wind, wave and tidal stream will get extra support.
There will be a capacity payment, to make sure we can meet peaks in demand – like the infamous ad break in Coronation Street, when everyone gets up to put the kettle on.
We’ll send out a clear signal with an emissions performance standard to keep our power plants clean. And the Treasury has announced a carbon price floor to underpin our signal to the marketplace – and to encourage low-carbon use of existing plants.
The final pillar of our plan is energy saving.
We have the oldest housing stock in Europe. We use more energy heating our homes than Sweden, which is nearly five degrees colder on average.
That’s why our flagship programme is the Green Deal, a nationwide home improvement scheme to bring our houses up to 21st century energy efficiency standards.
It is the most comprehensive energy-saving plan in the world.
And it can make a real difference.
Heating is the second biggest driver of energy demand in Britain. Better insulated buildings can help us cut into that carbon overhead.
So can renewable heat. That’s why we’re supporting renewable heat technologies like biogas boilers, solar thermal and electric air and ground-source heat pumps.
The key thing about our plans is that they will be flexible, letting us choose the lowest carbon energy sources at the lowest possible cost.
That flexibility will be critical. Because nobody knows what the energy mix will look like in forty years time.
Early stage technologies like tidal power may be long established.
Interconnectors could flourish, allowing us to trade natural resource strengths with our European neighbours.
Concentrated solar power in the Sahara could create enough electricity for two continents.
A technological revolution could deliver deep offshore wind at rock-bottom prices.
We cannot predict exactly what combination of energy technologies will power Britain in 2050.
But we know the carbon boundaries we must stick to if we are to keep global temperatures to within two degrees of pre-industrial levels. And we can estimate the kind of energy demand we will need to meet.
Once we know where the finish line is, we can start to trace backwards and discover what the course might be. And then we can begin to engage the public with the scale and shape of the changes that will deliver it.
When the challenges are better understood, then we can have a meaningful discussion about how we will get there – and what kind of trade-offs we might have to make along the way.
That’s the fundamental premise of DECC’s 2050 Pathways project, which looks at the choices and compromises we must face on the way to our energy future.
There is no silver bullet that will solve our energy problem. We will have to make some difficult decisions.
There will be trade-offs. Because every energy resource has its plus points – and its drawbacks.
Onshore windfarms demand careful location and siting. Tidal stream and wave power are still in their infancy.
For biomass to make a meaningful contribution it will need to cover much of the countryside.
Hydroelectric power can help us get to a greener future. But it cannot deliver the level of clean energy we need.
Our analysis shows that at the very top end of ambition, hydro could deliver just 3% of today’s electricity.
Nuclear power means tight safety standards and a long legacy. Carbon capture and storage is yet to be demonstrated at scale. Interconnection needs interconnectors.
Some technologies will fall by the wayside as costs or progress make them unsustainable. Others will improve fast. A few weeks ago I visited Delabole, the UK’s first windfarm. Ten turbines have been replaced by four – at twice the height and double the output.
And once electricity has been generated, it must be transmitted. Again, there are no simple solutions. Whether you wish to see electricity carried above ground by pylons or buried within the earth in cables, there are environmental – and economic – consequences.
And in a world with more renewable energy, balancing the grid becomes more challenging. We’ll need to look at pumped storage, demand management, smart grids and capacity payments – all the things that can help even out the peaks and troughs.
Even energy-saving measures have a price. Air source heat pumps could change the way our homes look.
To make our consumption and production add up, we will need a portfolio that includes a little bit of everything – and a lot of some things.
The Pathways project is looking at some of these options. So far, it has unearthed many different possible routes to 2050.
At the moment, there are no cost projections. But the point of the Pathways project is to get people engaged with what is physically possible – and what the implications are for our homes and our natural spaces.
The 2050 calculator lets you figure out your own energy mix.
Whether you want a little more wind, or a lot more nuclear, or extra energy saving. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend having a go. It can help put our energy choices into context.
Because the reality is that the scale of the problem – and the potential solutions – means our landscape will change again, just as it did during previous industrial revolutions. It is inescapable.
But we must keep remembering the rationale. You cannot keep things the same based on unsustainable energy. If we are to conserve the best of our past, we have to embrace the low-carbon future.
Done right, energy infrastructure can enhance the landscape.
The most popular tourist attraction in my constituency, as I never tire of telling my more sceptical Parliamentary colleagues, is a windmill. It grinds corn rather than generates electricity.
So our challenge is to make sure this energy revolution is more sustainable – and more beautiful – than previous revolutions.
But how can we deliver new energy infrastructure with the least impact and the most sensitivity?
The first step is to listen to the experts. CPRE have been intelligent and vocal advocates for their cause, offering realistic and detailed criticisms and responding to consultations.
I know that the uncertainty I mentioned about which technologies will get us to the future can be anathema to the conservationist.
But in fact we share a similar aim: to manage change. Just as England’s landscape evolves, with CPRE and other conservationists taking on the mantle of stewardship, so our energy system will evolve. And we want to make sure we leave as small and as soft a footprint as we possibly can.
And although I talked about letting technology and innovation decide where our electricity will come from, we are not simply letting market forces loose upon the countryside.
We may be flexible about the exact method of travel, but we are clear about the rules of the road. We do not wish to impose energy solutions on anyone.
Wherever possible, we will make balanced decisions that take account of landscape and environmental impacts.
So on offshore wind, new developments will be assessed strategically as part of a rolling programme of offshore energy strategic environmental assessments, and will be checked again at the consent application stage when environmental impact assessments are carried out for specific projects.
When it comes to onshore wind, communities should be protected from unacceptable impacts. The new National Planning Policy Framework will apply to energy developments up to 50 megawatts; the Department for Communities and Local Government will be consulting on it over the summer, so get in touch and let my colleague Eric Pickles know what you think.
Sites for potential new nuclear power stations are subject to a strategic siting assessment.
As part of this, the Government looks at impacts on cultural heritage and landscape value. Where a site falls down, such as at Braystones and Kirksanton in Cumbria, it may be rejected.
And when it comes to how electricity will be moved around the country, we need to strike a balance between the economic and environmental impacts.
To meet our 2020 renewable energy targets – and make that contribution to fighting climate change – the transmission system will have to expand to allow new renewables to plug in to the grid.
Grid costs can sometimes mean wind farms are put where the electricity is needed rather than where the wind is strongest.
Ofgem is looking into this as part of its review into transmission charges, which will conclude later this year.
We’re also making big changes at the top level. Once finalised, our consultation on the revised draft national policy statements will form the policy framework for big decisions on nationally significant infrastructure projects.
The national policy statements will bring together social, environmental and economic policies in one clear, robust and transparent system.
It’s about developing a consistent and a coherent strategic rationale for the way we decide on new infrastructure.
This kind of clarity and openness is a first. By getting public and stakeholders like the CPRE involved, we are opening up big decisions more than ever before – and working with people so we can get buy in.
Sometimes, national need will mean we have to sit down and take a tough decision about local impact.
I know CPRE is acutely aware that it’s where we draw the line between need and impact that matters. But with a more consensual framework drawn up with our partners and the public, you will always have a voice in the room.
I want to thank CPRE for taking the time to offer such a detailed response to the consultation.
And I want to reassure you that we are not going to wantonly plant windfarms across the country at random. In the next few months, we’ll publish the Renewables Roadmap – the first detailed step-by-step plan to deliver renewable energy.
It will take a practical approach, looking at deployment systematically, identifying specific barriers and setting out how to overcome them.
It will show how we will meet the 2020 renewables target.
And it will set out milestones and metrics that enable us to monitor deployment progress and respond if we are falling behind our ambitions.
Rather than being a fixed document, it will be flexible; evolving and changing as renewables come online.
I hope today I have given you a sense of how we might deliver clean, secure energy to 2050 – and what it might mean for our landscape.
By way of conclusion, and before we get to the Q&A, I want to ask a few questions of you.
Firstly, I would ask you all to think about the trade-offs you would make to guarantee the long-term survival of our landscape, the security of our energy supplies, and the affordability of our electricity for all.
It is a question of where we choose to draw the line. That is a personal decision, but one that means thinking about the wider consequences.
At the moment we buy gas that is easily extracted. But under some scenarios, we could end up relying more on shale gas. If we choose to rely on imported energy, we run the risk of ignoring the embedded costs. Is it morally sustainable to simply outsource our energy impacts to another country?
What is conservation?
And I wonder whether there is a more basic question here: what are we actually conserving?
As the President of the CPRE said in his inaugural speech, the English landscape is ‘almost entirely manmade’.
This is not a pristine natural environment, preserved in stasis. Rather, the CPRE is protecting a series of snapshots taken throughout our long and mutable history.
And from the beautiful medieval field patterns of Devon to the causeways of East Anglia, human fingerprints are plain to see. Rural England is often a vision of how we want things to be; a vision that we have exported across the world.
Perhaps energy infrastructure can be part of that vision.
Norfolk’s windmills, Kent’s oast houses and Westmoreland’s watermills are an integral part of our countryside. If we strike the right balance, perhaps the next generation of green energy will leave a similar legacy.
Conclusion: a return to sustainability
We know the choices we make about energy infrastructure stay with us for generations.
For proof, you need look no further than Dean’s Yard, two miles away to the west. It is still lit with gas lights.
Our current energy system is costing the earth. That is why it is so important to get it right.
Think about the grand prize. Cleaner air. More affordable energy. Less risk of climate change. A greater degree of energy independence.
For the first time since the 18th century, we have a chance to return to a true sustainability: one that does not see low-carbon generation as destructive to the economy or the environment, but as fundamental to the integrity of both.
Thank you very much.
- Farmers start to seize low-carbon opportunities
Farmers face a “triple whammy” of concerns, but are rising to the challenge, says Jonathon Porritt
Even in rich countries, the shadow of food insecurity has returned, threatening to bring to an end a golden era of plenty. It had been quite a success story, with agricultural activity focused almost exclusively on ensuring the provision of cheap and abundant supplies of food and fibre. Only in the last ten years or so have the full environmental costs of this cornucopian plenty been brought to light.
For countries with spending power, the reassuring sight of supermarkets brimming with cheap, fresh produce from around the world, irrespective of season, has obscured the realities that lie behind that facade. Where all this stuff comes from and how it got there have been of little consequence to the average shopper – one of the reasons why farming in Britain has been marginalised in the national debate as just another struggling sector of the economy, a world away from its central position as a strategic resource not so long ago. Britain is more dependent on food imports now than at any time since the 1960s. Less than 60% of what we eat is grown here, leaving the nation vulnerable to supply and demand shocks and growing price volatility in international markets.
The possibility that the food abundance we are so used to might come to an end seems almost unimaginable. Yet the pressures now facing agricultural production and food supply are immense. A rising population in the UK (set to reach 70 million by 2030) is part of a global trend in which the same land mass must feed at least 9 billion people by 2050 – three times the global headcount in 1960. And the environment in which this challenge will have to be met is full of uncertainty.
Heading the list of hard to manage risks is climate change – which 38.4% of farmers in the UK consider is already affecting their business, according to a Farming Futures survey in 2010. There is still much debate about what the impacts are likely to be. Extreme weather is in the news, with fires in Russia and flooding in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Australia – the latter after a prolonged period of drought. Personal tragedy and damage to infrastructure will be compounded by longer-term economic consequences.
Rising temperatures are also expected to reduce yields of many staple crops. A recent modelling study in the US suggests there is a ‘temperature tipping point’ beyond which crop yields are likely to plummet. One model showed a potential drop of 82% in maize yields by the end of the century. Averaged out, global cereal production could be between 3% and 8% lower by 2050 because of climate change, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute – at exactly the time when we need those yields to be rising. The Institute argues that a rise of only one degree could play havoc with food production.
Getting farmers to think about mitigating and adapting to climate change might seem a forlorn task in such difficult times. Agriculture’s emissions currently account for 8% of the UK total, according to the Department for Environment, Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra). That may not sound like much, but a business as usual approach will mean that beyond 2020 the sector will contribute 28% of our permitted 2050 emissions. In 2000, the livestock sector globally accounted for 52% of the ‘safe operating space’ for greenhouse gas emissions. If growth forecasts from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are correct, this could rise to 72% by 2050. With no other industries stepping up to take the pain of additional reductions, farming’s carbon and nitrous oxide efficiency will have to undergo a step change if the sector is to deliver its share.
And climate change is just the best known of a raft of environmental challenges confronting the sector. Water scarcity is rising in the public consciousness, though it’s been a preoccupation for farmers for some time. There’s fierce debate, though, over just how much water is involved. One study by The Water Footprint Network claims that 16,000 litres are needed to produce just one kilo of beef. Nonsense, says Eblex, the organisation supporting England’s beef and lamb industry. Its own study gives the figure as a mere 67 litres! A lot depends on where in the world the beef is being produced, and certainly there are places where meat is a very thirsty business.
There’s also the impact of artificial fertilisers on ecosystems to consider. Excessive application of nitrogen to enhance yields has been the primary reason behind the declining water quality of our rivers and lakes, through ‘eutrophication’, or artificial enrichment. But legislation to regulate how, when and where nitrogen might be applied could drive dairy farmers – who already struggle to get a decent price for their milk – out of business.
All this, of course, is assuming that artificial fertiliser is affordable in the first place. Rock phosphate, the basis of so much agricultural fertiliser, is selling at double its cost in 2006, prompting some commentators to predict ‘peak phosphorus’ as soon as 2033. Without phosphates, wheat yields could halve by the turn of the century.
This particular ‘triple whammy’ (input scarcity, declining production and rising demand) can only mean one thing: rising prices. Global food prices in January 2011 were higher than the previous spike reached when commodity prices hit the headlines in 2007/8. The FAO commodity index reached 231 points, outstripping the previous high of 213.5.
Paradoxically, rising resource and food prices might not be all bad news. In an era of cheap food, farmers have struggled to make the case that you get what you pay for when it comes to the quality and sustainability of food production. UK farmers have undoubtedly woken up to the efficiency challenge in energy, fertiliser and water use. For some, rising prices will mean more room for investment, and more motivation to widen the gap between production costs and factory gate prices by driving greater efficiency on farms. New soil management practices, more efficient application of fertilisers and smarter power use can all generate significant savings.
Food retailers are becoming noticeably more interested in their domestic supply chains, and many of them have made announcements in recent months about investing in sustainability on the farms that supply them. PepsiCo wants carbon and water footprint reductions of 50% on their farms in the next five years; Sainsbury’s is investing £40 million in the next three years on increasing the resilience of its suppliers to climate change; and Morrisons has teamed up with the Prince of Wales to set out a blueprint for sustainable farming.
But perhaps the most significant positive trend in the last year has been farming’s love affair with renewable energy. Despite shock stories in the Daily Mail about solar panels carpeting the countryside, and the Telegraph moaning that 3,000 British wind turbines stood idle over the recent cold period due to a lack of wind, the level of interest in these technologies amongst farmers remains high: 80% of farmers would like to put solar PV on their roofs, according to a joint survey by Farming Futures and Solarcentury in December last year.
In fact, there’s such a blizzard of applications for field PV systems that, bewilderingly, the UK Government may intervene to stop too many solar parks getting the go-ahead.
Farmers are no longer ‘on the back foot’ when it comes to responding to the challenge of climate change and other sustainability issues. Just a few years ago, ‘low-carbon farming’ would have meant nothing to most UK farmers; now it’s an important driver of new research, innovation and delivered solutions on the ground.
“We want agriculture and the food sector to be part of a truly green economy”
Our challenge, as set out in the recent Foresight Report on the future of food and farming, is to create a global, integrated approach to food security: one that looks beyond the food system to the inseparable goals of reducing poverty, tackling climate change and curbing biodiversity loss. The Government is determined to show leadership in making that happen.
In the UK, Defra will continue to work in partnership with our whole food chain, including consumers, to ensure we lead the way in demonstrating how agricultural production can be increased sustainably. We need to create the conditions for the UK farming industry and food chain to increase its productivity and competitiveness whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting and enhancing the natural environment, and using resources more sustainably. In short, we must ensure that agriculture and the food sector are part of a truly green economy.
The partnership between Government and industry will be essential in achieving these goals. As Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, a key part of my role is to maintain and enhance this partnership. As such, I am committed to providing industry with the opportunities, tools and knowledge they require in order to take action.
For example, to face the challenge of climate change, we will continue to support the industry as it drives down emissions. This includes investment in world class research and development. We have already committed £12.6 million, in partnership with the Devolved Administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), to improve the UK’s Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This will strengthen our understanding of on farm emissions, enabling industry to take action to drive these down.
Equally, we are committed to supporting the industry to take advantage of opportunities and plan for threats. This will make farms more resilient in the face of coming changes to our climate, and in particular extreme weather events.
Together, we can ensure that the industry is able to continue to thrive and deliver the essential public and environment services it provides. I look forward to taking up this challenge with you.
Jim Paice MP is Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Jonathon Porritt is Founder Director of Forum for the Future.
- Geoengineering: moral calamity or climate fix?
John Shepherd explores the morality and global implications of geoengineering solutions
Humans have always had to struggle with nature, both by adapting to it and attempting to master it. We wear clothes, and build houses. When the weather grows cold, we burn fuel for warmth. When darkness falls we light candles, or use electricity for light and entertainment. We build machines to move ourselves around, and cure many of the ailments that nature throws at us.
In so many ways, we enjoy the bounty of nature while insulating ourselves from its harshness.
Beyond this list of wonders, though, there remain some areas where nature still holds sway over us: none more so, perhaps, than weather and climate. We cannot control it; we can only adapt. Despite our best efforts over the centuries, we can’t make or stop the rain, we can’t make it warm or cool. We can only learn to live with the consequences.
Now, it appears, we might have the power to engineer the climate to suit our needs.
Past attempts at modifying the weather in our favour, from primitive rain dances to modern day cloud seeding, have met with a combination of failure, ridicule and suspicion. Fears of military applications of nascent technologies led to the Environmental Modification Treaty (ENMOD), enacted in 1978. This banned weather modification for hostile use, but allowed for further research for peaceful purposes.
We have, of course, already altered the Earth’s climate – but only by accident, as an unexpected side effect of our efforts at advancement. Now that this accident is beginning to look potentially catastrophic, some scientists are considering how we might deliberately intervene to modify the weather on an unprecedented, planetary scale: by geoengineering the climate.
It is a simple enough idea. By scrubbing greenhouse gases directly from atmospheric air, or by reflecting away a small percentage of the sun’s light and energy, it could be possible to reduce, or even reverse, the rate of global warming. It might conceivably be feasible to halt it altogether, and stabilise the climate in an optimum state.
Therein lie both the promise and the peril of geoengineering. On the one hand, it could buy us vital time to reduce emissions to a sustainable level. Despite global negotiations for over 20 years, we have not yet cut our overall carbon emissions at all, let alone on the scale required. So if geoengineering does turn out to be feasible, as well as easier, cheaper or more politically acceptable than reducing emissions, then it could rapidly become the path of least resistance.
But this could create a moral hazard: after all, why incur all the cost and complexity of cutting carbon if geoengineering makes it possible to carry on business as usual? There may also be unexpected – and potentially disastrous – side effects. Never before have we tried to modify our environment on such a scale. If we succeed in doing so, it may come to be considered humanity’s greatest achievement – or its worst mistake.
Even researching its potential is fraught with difficulties. For example, large-scale field trials of solar reflection methods, which could elicit a measurable response in the climate system, would come perilously close to actual deployment of the technology. However, until we undertake such trials, we can never be sure what the results will be in the real world. Some people argue that we should therefore refrain from research on such techniques, as the risks may become too great. Others argue that the risks of unabated climate change outweigh them, and that we would be foolish not to explore the possible benefits.
Then there are a host of ethical questions to wrestle with. Who should decide what geoengineering activities go ahead, and where and when? Almost by definition, their impact cannot be restricted to international boundaries. It is not hard to imagine the tensions that may be caused by an extreme weather event occurring in one country shortly after another, perhaps rival, power has conducted a large-scale test. Even if we managed to minimise all unwanted side effects, we would still need to resolve who gets to control the ‘global thermostat’, and for whose benefit. Cold, wet countries and hot, dry ones are unlikely to agree on what the ideal global temperature or levels of rainfall should be.
These discussions take on added urgency as the business potential of some geoengineering techniques becomes apparent. If the cost of removing a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere becomes cheaper than that of abating the activity producing it, then a viable business model emerges, quite literally, out of thin air…
Whether and how these issues can be resolved in our far-from-perfect system of international relations will determine whether geoengineering is something that is handled with responsibility, cooperation and prudence, or with hubris and narrow
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has already made the first tentative steps towards governance of geoengineering activities.
At its November 2010 Conference of the Parties, it advised governments to ban large-scale geoengineering activities that may affect biodiversity, while allowing for small-scale research to proceed.
Now the Royal Society is joining TWAS (the academy of sciences for the developing world) and the Environmental Defense Fund in convening the Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative (SRMGI). Its aim: to foster international dialogue and cooperation on the issue, to ensure that any research that may be done is safe, transparent and responsible.
Of course the real decisions on geoengineering will eventually have to be taken by national governments. However, it is vital that such decisions are founded on sound science, with well thought out governance structures and broad public participation. It is not too soon for the scientific community to begin the dialogue with civil society that can help to achieve this.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?Geoengineering is “the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming”.
Geoengineering the climate, Royal Society, 2009.
Being asked if you are in favour of geoengineering is like being asked if you are in favour of drugs. Which drugs? In what circumstances? Recreational or medical? Similarly, what kind of geoengineering? What are you trying to achieve with it? There is actually very little that one can say about geoengineering (or drugs) in general that is both true and useful.
The potentially serious problems that generalisations can cause were highlighted recently when the UN Convention on Biological Diversity [see above] debated a proposed moratorium on “all geoengineering activities”. One assumes that the delegates didn’t really want to ban planting trees or painting roofs white, but the language they supported would have done just that.
A problem for those who want to have a serious discussion is that ‘geoengineering’ often calls to mind the most outlandish interventions. For this reason many people have dismissed the whole concept as a ‘bad thing’. But are there useful alternatives to the term?
Sensible discussion should, in the very least, start by dividing the techniques into their two main categories: those which aim to remove excess quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (so tackling one of the prime causes of global warming), and those which aim to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface (so reducing global surface temperatures without tackling the cause of their rise). The former are sometimes referred to as ‘carbon-negative’ strategies; the latter as ‘global dimming’. The Royal Society favours the (arguably more precise) terms, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). While these have been quite widely adopted by the specialist academic community, there aren’t many signs of them replacing ‘geoengineering’ in the public and the media.
A major conference looking at the governance of all geoengineering techniques, held in Asilomar, California, in March 2010, dispensed with the term altogether, using ‘climate intervention’ and ‘climate remediation’ to refer to SRM and CDR respectively. However, this met with the accusation that an unpopular idea was undergoing a PR rebranding. True or not, the new terms appear not to have become popular yet.
Controlling language may be almost as difficult as controlling the weather, and perhaps the best option is not to fight the ‘G word’, but to nudge it in a new direction, by referring to ‘carbon geoengineering’ and ‘solar geoengineering’. These terms are still not perfect, but they’re certainly more descriptive than ‘geoengineering’ on its own, and could help to prevent misunderstanding if adopted.
CDR v SRMGeoengineering methods can be split into two broad categories, which act on different parts of the climate system:
• Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques, to take out CO2 from the atmosphere, so reducing the greenhouse effect.
• Solar radiation management (SRM) techniques, to reflect a small percentage of the sun’s light back into space.
Carbon dioxide removal
Were time not a factor, CDR would be much preferable to SRM for addressing climate change. This is because it treats the cause of climate change (the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) rather than just counter-balancing the effects (by reducing the amount of incoming sunlight). In most cases, but not all, CDR techniques also have less potential for unpredictable side effects.
CDR techniques include:
• land use management to enhance carbon sinks (eg planting and growing trees)
• biomass for carbon sequestration (eg biochar)
• enhanced natural weathering (using ground-up rocks to absorb CO2)
• direct removal from the air (‘scrubbing’ CO2, possibly for use as fuel)
• ocean fertilisation to encourage the growth of algae to absorb carbon.
Solar radiation management
SRM would reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth by a small amount. It could reduce global warming much more quickly than CDR, and would likely be much cheaper to deploy.
However, SRM techniques don’t treat the cause of climate change, would have a much higher risk of unexpected consequences, and would not address other effects of increased greenhouse gas concentrations, like ocean acidification. As such, they should only be considered as a potential temporary stopgap to avert a crisis, or to buy more time while emissions are brought under control.
SRM techniques include:
• increasing surface reflectivity, by brightening man-made structures (eg whitening roofs), planting more reflective crops, or placing reflective materials in deserts
• making marine clouds more reflective
• distributing aerosols into the atmosphere to mimic the effects of volcanic eruptions
• placing shields or deflectors in space to divert solar energy away from the Earth.
These methods could have a notable effect on the climate in less than a year, and some are projected to be extremely cheap relative to reducing carbon emissions. However, there remains considerable scientific uncertainty about the overall climatic impacts of solar geoengineering (eg on patterns of rainfall).
John Shepherd is Professorial Research Fellow in Earth System Science at the University of Southampton, UK. He chaired the Royal Society study on Geoengineering the Climate in 2009. Additional material by Michael Ashcroft and Andy Parker.
- Huhne – We will break through barriers facing Scottish renewables (press notice and speech)
22 March 2011
Chris Huhne vowed today to leave no stone unturned in support of Scottish renewable energy projects.
The Energy and Climate Change Secretary said:
“If we are to meet our climate change targets, Scotland will be mission critical. Success here will define our low carbon legacy.
“I know that every day that projects are delayed is an extra day we rely on dirty energy, an extra cost for the industry – and an extra cost for consumers.
“My job as Energy Secretary is not to give you warm words. My job is to go through step-by-step, breaking through the barriers – so that you can get on with the job of delivering renewable energy in the simplest, quickest and cheapest way.”
Speaking this afternoon at the Scottish Renewables conference in Glasgow, he announced:
- a new agreement between DECC and the Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport, Civil Aviation Authority, National Air Traffic Service, Scottish Government and the renewables industry to urgently seek solutions to unlock opposition from aviation – radar problems in particular – to onshore wind
- he has asked his officials to examine what scope there may be for him to use his powers under section 185 of the Energy Act 2004 to adjust transmission charges for renewables in a particular area, such as the Scottish islands, once Ofgem has finished its Project TransmiT review of transmission charging arrangements.
Notes to editors
1. The full text of Chris Huhne speech follows:
Chris Huhne: Scottish renewables, 22/03/11
I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you in person today, but I’m glad we got the low-carbon video option working. I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to address the leading lights of Scotland’s renewable energy industry.
If we are to meet our climate change targets, Scotland will be ‘mission critical’. Success here will define our low-carbon legacy.
In a world where financial fears have tempered green aspirations, Scotland has not only exceeded its targets – it is actively raising its ambitions, going further and faster than anyone else.
This week, the world’s largest tidal array has been given the green light. The Sound of Islay will host ten tidal turbines. The home of Lagavulin and Laphroaig will now be powered by clean, green electricity.
I want to make one thing clear: we need more projects like this. After all, the warm glow of 10-year-old single malt is a pretty powerful ‘renewable heat incentive’!
Crises in confidence
This is the first Scottish Renewables conference I have addressed as Secretary of State, but it could not be more timely.
Over the past year, crises of confidence have struck conventional energy.
In April, the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico brought home the environmental impact of our oil dependency. The takeaway lesson from Deepwater Horizon was that cutting-edge extraction can be high-risk – and high-cost.
Then, in December, protesters in Tunisia kickstarted a wave of revolution unlike anything we have seen since 1989.
Speculation and uncertainty meant the oil price hit $115 a barrel.
Around the world, the debate about how fast we should move to low-carbon kicked up a gear.
And then, eleven days ago, an earthquake of unprecedented ferocity struck 80 miles out from Sendai.
In its scale and its impact, the devastation visited on Japan’s Pacific coast is shocking. Our thoughts are with those who lost their lives, their families, their homes.
After the earthquake and the tsunami, all eyes are on the country’s nuclear power plants. The situation, particularly at the Fukushima plant, is extremely serious.
Millions are without power in Japan. Rolling blackouts and factory shutdowns compound the situation.
As the world’s third-largest economy starts to look beyond rescue and toward recovery, getting the grid back online will be critical.
So from Tokyo to Tunis, what’s happening in the world today reminds us that the energy choices we make now matter in the long term.
Decisions taken today can lock us into a particular set of risks, costs and benefits for decades to come.
Our challenge is to come up with an energy policy that delivers safe, secure and low-carbon energy to 2050 and beyond.
It will not be easy. Despite our stepped-up efforts to save energy, demand for electricity could double by 2050. But over the next ten years a quarter of our nuclear and coal power plants will shut down. As the reserve margin of spare generating capacity falls, the risk of interruptions to our energy supply rises.
So we have to build a new generation of power stations. In the face of tough global competition, and a difficult financial environment, we must attract record investment in energy.
And it must be low-carbon.
By the end of this decade, the UK must cut our carbon emissions by 34% on 1990 levels.
In the UK we must generate 15% of our energy from renewables by 2020, up from 3% in 2009, to meet our contribution to the EU renewable energy target.
We must go from 25th out of 27 EU member states for renewable energy – the dunce in the class – to Europe’s fastest improving pupil.
That means a fivefold increase in the current rate of deployment of renewables.
And in Scotland, the Government has announced an even more challenging target: 80% of electricity from renewables by 2020.
Growth on that kind of scale will be challenging to say the least. It will require tough decisions, clever thinking, and tightly focused support.
We each have a role to play.
Industry must carry on making the case for renewables. Engaging with communities – and answering its critics by delivering renewable schemes that save money and save carbon.
Government must break through the barriers that are stopping new schemes being built. Overcoming the financial, planning and delivery hurdles that can hold up progress on renewables.
And together, we must do a better job of communicating the benefits of renewables.
Safety from oil shocks. Stability for our economy. Clean and secure electricity for our consumers.
Today, I want to look at the barriers that are stopping us from getting renewables online – and what we can do to break through them.
Firstly, the finance.
From the small scale to the big picture, we have to get the incentives and structures right so that renewables are the smart choice.
That means providing certainty for investors, with clear and consistent market signals.
This is not always easy with new technologies, as we have found out with large scale solar. But we intend to put clarity and continuity at the heart of policy so we can unlock private capital on the scale we need.
The Renewables Obligation was a good start. It designed renewable energy into the electricity supply chain.
But it was created when we thought we might need 10% of our electricity from renewable sources. Now our ambitions are much higher. Single-digit low-carbon growth won’t cut it anymore.
We’re keeping up the support for large-scale renewable electricity, with a budget due to rise to £3.2bn over the next three years.
But we also have to change the way we think about renewable electricity.
Instead of treating low-carbon like a bolt-on, we need to think about it as one of the foundations of our energy system.
That’s where electricity market reform comes in.
Last year Niall Stuart said that EMR could ‘make or break’ progress on renewables.
Needless to say, I believe it will be the making of low-carbon energy. But that also depends on you.
Our proposals set out how we will encourage low-carbon investment, guarantee security of supply, and provide British consumers with the most affordable electricity.
They reflect a fundamental change in our electricity system: renewables are no longer a fringe industry, but part of the mainstream. One of the four key pillars of our strategy: energy saving, new nuclear, clean coal and gas, and renewables.
Support for new schemes under the Renewables Obligation will continue until 2017, so developers can keep building renewable energy projects.
As we move past early stage mechanisms, the key thing is to provide continuity and certainty for the future.
Under our proposals, all low carbon technologies will benefit from support by virtue of being low carbon. That is the compensation for what Nick Stern calls the greatest market failure of all time. A guaranteed feed-in tariff for all.
There must also be a premium payment for early stage technologies. Pioneer technologies like wind, wave and tidal stream will benefit from extra support in the prices that we pay for electricity, just as they do now through the Renewables Obligation. Those furthest away from full commercialisation – like wave – will get the most.
Our consultation also proposes a capacity payment, to make sure we can meet peaks in demand – like the infamous ad break in Coronation Street, when everyone gets up to put the kettle on. We will pay to save energy and generate it.
We will also send out a clear signal with an emissions performance standard, to keep our power plants clean.
And the Treasury has consulted on a carbon price floor, to underpin our signal to the marketplace – and to encourage low-carbon use of existing plants.
Our proposals will change fundamentally the structure of our energy markets.
But if we’re going to meet our renewables target, we can’t do it with electricity alone.
That’s why, in a tight, tough spending round, I fought hard to secure £860 million for the world-leading Renewable Heat Incentive.
We expect green capital investment in heat to rise by £7.5 billion by 2020, stimulating an entirely new UK market – and supporting 150,000 manufacturing, supply chain and installer jobs.
From Dundee to Dartmouth, we want to see industrial, commercial and public sector installations increase sevenfold by the end of the decade.
Scotland could expect to benefit by at least £80 million over the next four years.
Today, Scottish Renewables threw down an ambitious target. It is up to Scottish parties and the new Scottish government to decide on Scotland’s commitments, but let me be clear: the money is there, and I will support your ambition.
This is no flash-in-the-pan. The tariffs will be paid for 20 years to eligible technologies, with payments for each kWh of renewable heat.
But as the costs of the equipment and installation reduce through economies of scale, we expect the support for new entrants to the RHI scheme will decrease.
Because the long-term aim is to grow and sustain a green sector that delivers low-carbon energy at the lowest possible cost.
Building the future
We also need to ensure more low-carbon technologies are designed and manufactured here.
We have a blossoming low-carbon goods and services sector, which seems to be thriving even in tough times.
But China leads the world in solar photovoltaic panel production; Germany on passive house architecture and design. And although we have the most installed offshore wind capacity, Britain doesn’t even make the top 10 when it comes to wind turbine manufacture.
It would be crazy to support producers generating low-carbon energy, businesses selling low-carbon products, consumers installing low-carbon measures – and not try to capture some of the original value.
If our financing goes on buying in technology from overseas, we’re not getting the best return on our investment. We’re missing a trick unless we start supporting low-carbon manufacturing here in Britain – and grow the green supply chain.
Things are starting to change. Siemens are investing in Hull, and Gamesa and GE are looking at setting up research centres and factories here in the UK.
And I welcome Doosan’s decision to locate its renewables R&D base – and potentially turbine manufacturing – in Scotland.
This is great stuff. But we also need to encourage home-grown innovators.
Take Artemis, pushing ahead with ‘Digital Displacement’ offshore wind-turbine transmission. Or Burntisland Fabrications, pioneering a new process design and layout for the manufacture of foundations for offshore wind structures.
These companies are building the technologies of the future here on our shores. Locking in profits and expertise, and creating the exports that will keep Britain competitive.
We can do more to help.
The spending review settlement included £200 million for the development of low-carbon technologies.
And the Green Investment Bank, capitalised with at least a billion pounds, will help get private sector investment at scale. The Chancellor will have more to say on the Green Investment Bank tomorrow.
We’ll keep funding research and innovation – not just through DECC, but through the business and transport departments, too.
So from the structure of the electricity market to research funding, we’re breaking through the economic barriers.
We’re also focusing on non-financial obstacles.
If our renewable industry is to flourish, we need to get the infrastructure right, making it easier for renewable projects to plug in to the grid.
Broadband providers often talk about the ‘last mile’ problem. You can have the fastest, best-designed national transmission network, but if the thousand yards from the local exchange to the customer are old-fashioned copper wire, then all that investment is wasted.
It’s the same with energy. We have to make sure that the right transmission charging regime is in place to meet the challenges of renewable generation throughout Scotland.
I know developers have real concerns about the current level of forecast transmission charges – particularly in the Scottish Islands, where major projects are on hold.
I also know Ofgem recognise these concerns, and like you I await their review of the transmission charging arrangements through Project TransmiT.
The key thing is to deliver a simple, fair and predictable charging regime that recognises our new energy landscape. Our purpose is not to build plant near consumers, but to wire up plant wherever the wind blows and the tides run.
I’m not going to prejudge Ofgem’s review. But I have asked my officials to look closely at whether there’s a case for adjusting transmission charges for renewable generation on the Scottish Islands under section 185 of the Energy Act 2004 – so we can act quickly if we need to.
Planning is rightly a matter for Scottish ministers, and over the last decade you’ve had a better record than England.
But on a national scale, there are things I can to help get the green light for green energy.
The revised draft National Policy Statements will give investors clarity and certainty.
And we’re working with our partners in Whitehall to help smooth the way for new renewables on a national scale.
Take radar and aviation. For many wind developers, radar interference causes business headaches.
That’s why we’re working closely with aviation bodies like the National Air Traffic Services and the Civil Aviation Authority to develop and install new radar software.
This can be a win-win situation: bringing new state of the art radar and releasing up to 5GW of new onshore wind capacity.
And today, I’m happy to announce a new partnership agreement between government, aviation bodies and the windfarm industry to work together to implement new radar solutions.
So we’re tackling the financial and the non-financial barriers to getting renewables online.
The next step is to get a plan for delivering renewable energy.
That’s why we’ll publish the Renewables Roadmap later this spring.
The roadmap will be the first detailed step-by-step plan to deliver renewable energy.
It will take a practical approach, looking at deployment systematically, identifying specific barriers, and setting out how to overcome them. It will show how we will meet the 2020 renewables target, sending an important signal to investors and technology developers alike.
And it will set out milestones and metrics that enable us to monitor deployment progress and respond if we are falling behind our ambitions.
The Renewables Roadmap will be the UK’s first systematic blueprint to deliver renewables at scale.
Rather than being imposed from Westminster, it’s being drawn up together with our partners in the Devolved Administrations – and based on input and evidence from industry.
And rather than being a fixed document, it will evolve and change as renewables come online.
We want your feedback. We want to know which obstacles you think are most important, and then we will work harder, sector by sector, to shift them.
This is open-source government at its best. And it will make DECC the happening department.
So from finance to delivery, we’re making it easier to bring renewable projects onstream.
We must hit our renewables target. We must cut our carbon emissions. We must make the case for green growth and ambitious emissions targets at a European level.
It’s in our direct economic interest to do so. These are the jobs and businesses of the future.
Renewable energy employed more than a quarter of a million people in 2009 – nearly a third of the low-carbon sector.
Getting more renewable energy in our mix could reduce our energy import dependence by up to 40%, giving us more security and a greater degree of energy independence.
As we reflect on a tumultuous year in global energy markets – one marked by tragedy and volatility in equal measure – that extra security sounds all the more attractive.
So let’s work together to deliver the green energy revolution that Scotland, the UK and the world so desperately needs.
Thank you very much.
- Low-carbon community guide launched today
Today we launch Funding revolution, a guide to establishing and running community revolving funds, at the Carbon Leapfrog conference in the City of London Guildhall. The guide, written with Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors, is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It pulls together the knowledge and experience of several community groups and local authorities using “smart finance” to save carbon locally.
A revolving fund recycles revenues from carbon saving projects, such as solar PV panels or energy savings, to invest in more projects. That simple idea has the power to change the way we fund a low-carbon UK and, indeed, world.
We hope that this guide will give practical help to local authorities and community groups who want an alternative to relying on grant funding. The guide offers advice on how to achieve the right community structure to enable investment in a low-carbon future, for example, through local share issues.
Working with leading communities and experts in finance, communications and commerce to support the growth of low-carbon communities, I have been struck by how willing enterprises and local authorities are to share ways of success. I think this ‘open source’ approach, driven by a social goal above the financial, is at the heart of the progress of the low-carbon communities worldwide, not just in the UK.
It is this willingness to share that has meant that Bates, Wells and Braithwaite solicitors and the Forum have acted as much as collators of information and as experts when we wrote this guide together. I found the process of ‘co-creation’ so refreshing, which has resulted in a rich and detailed guide that draws on real experience.
The guide provides a range of information, so there is something useful for communities just starting out as well as for those that are already running a fund and investing in projects. It goes right through the process of running a low-carbon community group and gives worked explanations of how to fund energy saving and generation projects, including making loans or leasing sites to benefit from feed-in tariffs.
We are interested in helping to spread the models used by low-carbon community groups. If you are interested in being a part of this potential project, please drop me an email.
- Feed-in Tariffs: Written Ministerial Statement by Gregory Barker, Minister of State
I am today announcing a consultation as part of the fast-track review of Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) for small scale low carbon electricity generation.
On 7 February, I announced the start of the first comprehensive review of the FITs scheme for small scale low carbon electricity generation which would:
- assess all aspects of the scheme including tariff levels, administration and eligibility of technologies;
- be completed by the end of the year, with tariffs remaining unchanged until April 2012 (unless the review reveals a need for greater urgency);
- fast-track consideration of large scale solar projects (over 50kW) with a view to making any resulting changes to tariffs as soon as practical, subject to consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny as required by the Energy Act 2008; and
- alongside the fast track review of large scale solar PV, undertake a short study into the take-up of FITs for farm based Anaerobic Digestion plants.
The document published today deals with the last two of these points, and seeks views on proposals to changes tariffs for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations larger that 50 kilowatts and farm scale anaerobic digestion (AD) of up to 500 kilowatts. The proposed new bands and tariffs are as follows:
For large PV installations:
- >50kW – ≤150kW: 19p/kWh
- >150kW – ≤250kW: 15p/kWh
- >250kW – ≤5MW: 8.5p/kWh
And for farm scale AD installations:
- ≤250kW: 14p/kWh
- >250 – ≤500kW: 13p/kWh
The FITs scheme has been a success since its launch in April 2010 with over 27,000 FITs installations registered to date, of which 92% are domestic-scale solar PV generators, which are not affected by the proposed changes in the fast track review. The FITs scheme rewards generators for the green electricity they produce, use and sell back to the grid. We want to protect the diversity of the FITs scheme, and ensure that it benefits homes, small businesses and communities, and the full range of innovative technologies.
In these financially challenging times, it is even more important that we get the balance of the scheme right. The projections for take up of FITs published by the previous government failed to anticipate any large or small scale non-domestic solar PV installations until 2013. These projections have clearly proved to be flawed. Current market indications are that a rapid increase in the number of larger solar installations entering the scheme could distort funding for smaller and domestic scale installations as well as other technologies. Conversely the current tariff levels have failed to spur a meaningful uptake for anaerobic digestion which means that this technology is not fulfilling its potential contribution to our energy mix.
Decentralised renewables are a vital part of green growth and the FITs scheme has proved highly successful at stimulating growth, driving innovation, creating jobs and cutting carbon. We must act now to ensure that the scheme continues to deliver and we are able to achieve both our Spending Review commitment to improving the efficiency of the scheme, which will deliver £40million of savings (around 10%) in 2014/15, as well as ensuring that the benefits of a faster fall in technology costs are shared as widely as possible rather than captured in higher returns for a small number of individual investors.
We are seeking views on proposed tariffs until 6 May 2011. The Government will not act retrospectively and any changes to generation tariffs implemented as a result of the review will only affect new entrants into the FITs scheme. Installations which are already accredited for FITs at the time will not be affected. We propose that these changes take effect from 1 August 2011, subject to the outcome of this consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny.
We are also seeking views on the scope of the comprehensive review by 12 April 2011.
The consultation document can be accessed on the FITs Consultation page of the DECC website
- Low carbon development a “huge opportunity” for Latin America
Carbon, conservation and sustainable cities feature in plans by Mexico and the Dominican Republic
Central America isn’t usually seen as a hotbed of renewable energy, but for two countries at least, that’s starting to change. And it’s driven as much by worries over energy costs and security as it is by concerns over carbon.
In the Dominican Republic, three major new wind farms will come onstream this year, adding a combined 133MW of capacity. Enrique Ramirez, President of the National Energy Commission, said that the country is looking to wind power as a significant way to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. It recently set a target to source 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025, supported by a landmark law providing for incentives which have galvanised rapid investment in the sector. For a country whose energy needs are heavily dependent on unsustainable government subsidies to oil, this makes sense in more ways than one.
These developments coincide with the launch of the Spanish-language version of a key Forum for the Future report in the Dominican Republic later this year. El clima futuro para el desarrollo (The future climate for development), explores the “huge opportunity” around low-carbon, climate-resilient development. It considers future responses to climate change in low-income countries, and includes four scenarios for different possible futures in 2030 [see ‘Can the south become climate-resilient?‘].
The report also highlights the potential for cities to take a lead on the issue, even as national governments falter. The urban context is particularly relevant in Latin America, where 79% of the population live in cities – projected to reach 85% in 2030. Last year, at the World Mayors Summit on Climate in Mexico City, 135 city leaders signed up to a range of commitments to reduce emissions and promote measures to adapt to climate change.
Mexico City is leading the way, with a comprehensive, 15-year ‘Green Plan’ which addresses seven key areas for action:
- habitability and public space
- land conservation
- water supply
- transportation and mobility
- waste and recycling
- air pollution
- energy, and a climate action programme.
The Mexican capital has committed to spend 7% of its total yearly budget to help reach its target of a 12% reduction in carbon emissions by 2012 (from a 2008 baseline). And Mexico City isn’t alone. Among its fellow signatories is Brazil’s Curitiba, home of the acclaimed Bus Rapid Transport system [see ‘Exclusive interview with the man behind Curitiba’s master plan‘] , and Bogotá, Colombia. Its impressive network of bicycle routes (‘ciclorutas’) has quintupled bike use in the city.
Jemima Jewell is a Senior Strategic Adivisor at Forum for the Future, and lead author of the report,The Future Climate for Development.
Both Spanish and English versions of The Future Climate for Development will be available to download from www.forumforthefuture.org/projects/the-future-climate-for-development