Labour unveils ‘expert fast-track’ plan for carbon-neutral energy system by 2030s

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LABOUR has launched their strategy to deliver a net zero energy system by the ‘most radical feasible pathway’ across the UK in the 2030s.

Titled 30 by 2030, the report introduces four main goals for UK’s energy supply and use:

  • reducing energy waste in buildings and industry
  • decarbonising heat
  • boosting renewable and low carbon electricity generation
  • balancing the country’s supply and demand

The report also makes 30 recommendations to meet these goals that include installing 8 million heat pumps, 7,000 off-shore wind turbines and 2,000 more on-shore wind turbines.

“The main emphasis to decarbonising UK energy should focus on the embedding of localised renewable generation projects both within the domestic market and public, commercial and industrial sectors”, Claire Markham, Director of Sustainable & Renewable Energy at Inspired Energy, commented to ICON.

“The first goal is pursued with a nationwide building upgrade programme that aims bringing 24 million homes in the UK up to the highest energy efficiency standards practical, with a minimum of EPC rating C. Reducing dependency on grid supplied power and gas and localising generation assets will increase access to a growing reliable source of renewable energy.”

The second goal is outlined as having a UK-wide 50% renewable and low-carbon heating for both domestic and non-domestic customers by 2030 with a combination of

  • 25% electrification of heat using heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps,
  • 10% from a combination of local sources, solar hot water, and waste heat,
  • 3% from solid biomass heating,
  • 11% renewable and low-carbon heating supplied via the gas network
  • 1% biofuel for use in industrial processes

Third goal is sought to be achieved with addition of offshore wind resources, solar and emerging technologies such as carbon capture and storage and tidal power.

The fourth goal is pursued by ensuring that UK energy infrastructure is in a position to balance 69% of electricity from variable sources like the wind and sun. This would require measures to ensure energy generation, storage and use are all balanced.

Michael Phelan, Chief Executive and Co-founder at GridBeyond, which provides demand side response and energy management technology for large industrial and commercial clients, commented this goal to ICON.

“The effective balancing of the demand and supply on the energy network, and its transition towards a fully decarbonised, digitalised, and future-proof model requires cross-sector coordination and joint efforts from all the market participants.

“We agree with the need for a ‘whole energy system approach’, and as a company, it has been our mission to support the creation of a shared energy economy that delivers sustainability, resilience, affordability and adaptability through energy intelligence and connectivity”, Mr Phelan stated.

“The increasing digitalisation of our lifestyles, including the electrification of transport and heating systems, combined with the intermittency of renewable generation, puts pressure on the network operator to ensure the system is flexible enough to remain in balance at all times.

“As the demand is growing, the need for flexibility delivered to the grid through demand side response services is increasing.”

As means to reach the fourth goal, the report states that rapid and extensive update of the grid and implantation of demand side response is required urgently, preceded by a suitable investigation into the right balance of solutions, delivering a revolutionised system within a decade.

“If the network is to become further decarbonised and digitalised to meet the legally binding deadlines, the market needs clear and progressive policies to ensure the energy end users are sufficiently incentivised to unlock their flexibility and support the grid through their participation in the balancing services”, Mr Phelan continued.

“The increasing installation of energy storage is another step forward to ensure the network remains stable and with access to additional capacity to increase inertia when required. The European Council ruling that enables reinstallation of the Capacity Market gives the green light to the Government to continue its cooperation with the energy end users.

“This is good news for the Demand Side Response customers who will be helping to secure the electricity system against major outages as our energy mix pivots away from fossil fuel plants and towards more renewable generation.”

The recommended actions stated in the report would require investment of 1.9 per cent of the UK’s GDP each year and deliver a 77 per cent cut in UK energy emissions, the report states.

The document explicitly does not consider the means and measures to deliver the recommendations made in it.

“The Labour Party has among the most ambitious climate targets in the world and is the only party turning their targets into detailed, credible plans to tackle the climate and environmental crisis”, Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Business and Energy Secretary, commented on the report.

“Inaction on climate by Conservative and Lib-Dem Coalition Governments has led to a lost decade in the race to cut emissions from our energy system. The recommendations in this report could put the UK on track for a zero-carbon energy system during the 2030’s – but only if rapid progress is made early on. The next five years are therefore crucial.

“We are working with trade unions to ensure that the changes to our energy system will be planned democratically, with the interests of workers and local communities at the heart of the transition.”