Environment & Energy

Five things we’ve learnt from the Energy White Paper

This week’s is a substantial document that moves the UK a step closer towards a Net Zero energy system. However, it’s clear that the White Paper is largely about ambition, which leaves a lot for the Government to do in 2021.

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Powering Net Zero

The UK Government’s commitment to quadruple offshore wind capacity by 2030 will transform Great Britain’s electricity system. However, it poses serious challenges for the electricity market. Market conditions during the summer lockdown showed that the Government needs to make reforms, otherwise costs will rise and customers won’t benefit from the falling cost of wind and solar.

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Four negative emission technologies (NETs) that could get us to Net Zero

Reaching Net Zero requires more than just reducing emissions. To account for processes that will be exceptionally difficult to decarbonise completely (such as steel or cement making), we actually have to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, thereby balancing out at ‘net’ zero.

‘Negative emissions’ technologies (NETs), also known as Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) technologies, allow us to do that. They remove greenhouse gases – usually carbon dioxide – from the atmosphere and they are needed to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

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Policy Exchange and the PM’s 10-Point Plan

The Prime Minister’s green announcement reflects several policies that we’ve championed over more than a decade.

After some key personnel changes at the top, the Prime Minister has begun his administration’s ‘reset’ with a long-awaited 10-Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. The Plan has been broadly praised for its breadth and welcomed as a major statement of intent across multiple technologies. He combined knotty, unglamorous issues such as home heating with big, visionary technologies like CCS and hydrogen.

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Time to Shine

The Prime Minister’s commitment to 40 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030 is a huge undertaking that will galvanise industry to redouble their efforts to deploy clean energy projects. However, despite the scale of the ambition and the falling cost of offshore wind, the UK could also be getting more from a range of energy technologies by helping them to work together. ‘Hybrid’ clean energy projects, such as solar farms working with batteries, have the potential to significantly reduce costs by sharing components, particularly expensive grid connections. Other combinations include wind with hydrogen production or wind with interconnectors.

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The Future of the North Sea

The North Sea is strategically central to meeting the UK’s target of Net Zero emissions by 2050. By fully developing offshore wind, the North Sea could provide one-third of the UK’s energy needs, and this proportion will grow if low-carbon hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) are also fully developed.

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Latest Environment & Energy Publications

Park Land: How open data can improve our urban green spaces

Park Land: How open data can improve our urban green spaces

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Britain’s urban green spaces are coming under pressure, with financial and development constraints, coupled with a surprising lack of data, raising the possibility of a decline in the quantity and quality of our urban green spaces. Park Landcalls for a new freely-available national urban green space map for the UK to help make sure people living in cities have adequate access to good green spaces, test whether public money is being well spent and allow clever innovations in improving green spaces to be easily shared.

Latest Environment & Energy Blogs

Is it the end of the road for the combustion engine?

Is it the end of the road for the combustion engine?

Richard Howard — Policy Exchange’s Head of Energy and Environment — responds to Volvo’s announcement that it will only sell electric and hybrid vehicles from 2019 and the news that France is to ban the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. He asks whether this marks the beginning of the end for the combustion engine.

America cedes ground in the environmental and diplomatic race

America cedes ground in the environmental and diplomatic race

Joshua Burke — Policy Exchange’s Energy and Environment Research Fellow — responds to President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate treaty. Considering the decision in relation to the ‘tectonic plates of geopolitics’, he claims that ‘it is hard not to envision gleeful faces in China’, and concludes that America’s withdrawal will ‘no doubt weaken their geopolitical standing’

Latest Environment & Energy News

Global warming and the threat to humanity

Global warming and the threat to humanity

Up In the Air, Policy Exchange’s new report on air pollution in London, is covered in a leader column in the Evening Standard. The report shows that in some London boroughs as many as 60% of school children go to school in areas with air pollution that is higher than the legal limit.

Latest Environment & Energy Events

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REGISTER NOW: Can our Cities come back from Covid? A Lecture by Professor Ed Glaeser to mark the relaunch of Policy Exchange’s Liveable London Unit. Chaired by @TrevorPTweets