Now that Liz Truss has been announced as the new Prime Minister, organizations are outlining key energy actions to tackle the energy security and cost of living crises.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) and the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) have written to Truss, presenting positive arguments for action.
The letter, released today, outlines the organizations’ collective positions on issues such as energy security, fossil fuels, low-carbon energy and the role of infrastructure in achieving net zero. It was written by CCC Chairman Lord Deben and NIC Chairman Sir John Armitt.
Key recommendations include the need to take full advantage of new tenders for onshore wind and solar. The letter emphasizes that “renewable energy is the cheapest form of electricity generation” and that “onshore wind and solar power have the potential to be deployed fastest, thus reducing our reliance on natural gas sooner.”
It continues: “The government has committed to a decarbonized energy system by 2035. We encourage you to remove any practical obstacles to its deployment. Increasing renewable energy generation is already reducing our dependence on international gas prices and therefore lowering energy bills.
“The Contracts for Difference mechanism has proven its success in delivering new renewable energy capacity at low cost. The latest auction found renewable energy prices nine times cheaper than the current high electricity prices set by gas generation Contracts for Difference save £23 a year for a dual-fuel customer under the latest price cap announcement.”
In addition, the letter also highlights the need to provide updated national energy policy statements and “act swiftly to remove barriers to the deployment of strategic energy infrastructure.” This should be followed by “rapid action” to overcome barriers to deployment, both for new low-carbon power capacity and the grid infrastructure needed to support it.
However, CCC and NIC have welcomed the establishment of a new independent carrier and steps to improve the planning process for nationally significant infrastructure.
Other recommendations in the letter include developing credible energy efficiency strategies in buildings, providing and promoting a comprehensive energy advisory service, and providing a functioning market-based mechanism for low-carbon heat.
The letter adds: “Decisive government action in the near future can bring lasting benefits to the UK’s climate and energy security. In addition to any new consumer support package this winter, we urge you to follow the principles set out in British Energy’s Security Strategy and the Net Zero Strategy.
“The best consumer policy is one that supports sustainable energy security and a low-carbon, low-cost energy system. Independent analysis by our respective organizations shows this will deliver a long-term return on investment and put the UK on the right path to prosperity.”
Meanwhile, a new analysis from climate research group Carbon-Free Europe has found that more investment in nuclear research and development (R&D) and early technology deployment can result in savings of £15bn in annual energy system costs by 2050 by reducing the cost of nuclear power be lowered.
The report models nuclear energy deployment across Europe at varying costs and concludes that if nuclear reactor costs fall by around 50% to £43 per MW-hour, deployment increases significantly. The last UK agreed price for Sizewell C is £90, but investment in research and development, large-scale deployment and innovative financing can help achieve these lower nuclear power costs.
Depending on cost, nuclear reactors could generate 17% to 28% of the EU and UK’s electricity in 2050, compared to 25% today. This analysis shows that, despite the perceived high cost, nuclear power will be an integral part of the journey to net zero by 2050.
Even at higher prices, nuclear power remains economical for hydrogen production and direct air capture firing, as well as other direct heat applications such as steelmaking or district heating. Additionally, lower-cost nuclear power can help offset the huge renewable energy deployment challenge, but these impacts would not be felt until the 2040s – reinforcing the need to deploy renewable energy on an unprecedented scale over the next two decades.
Therefore, Carbon-Free Europe also believes that the government needs to build up as many renewable energy sources as possible, even in the short term. Lower-cost nuclear technologies will not significantly replace the need for additional renewable capacity until 2040, at which point advanced nuclear power will be able to balance the power grid without requiring an oversupply of renewable energy.
Lindsey Walter, Co-Founder of Carbon-Free Europe, said: “Our analysis underscores the importance of investing today in the next generation of innovative technologies that can ensure a reliable and affordable energy system that can withstand future energy crises.
“Reducing the cost of nuclear energy, which we can achieve through R&D funding and large-scale deployment, will result in significant energy cost savings for the UK. At the same time, government must act to reduce the financial burden of energy bills on citizens and businesses, if not at the expense of long-term investment in clean, domestic energy Partners work together to accelerate progress.”
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