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

Fuelling the Future

Fuelling the Future

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Scotland and North East England offer the best opportunities for successful hydrogen production hubs, while investment in cost-effective hydrogen production technologies – such as electrolysis – would open up export opportunities and address both the Industrial and Clean Growth strategies, according to the new report from Policy Exchange’s award-winning energy team, with a Foreword from the first elected Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen.

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What’s in a date?

What’s in a date?

The Guardian reports that Ministers are considering banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by as early as 2030, following calls from the Conservative MPs, the Government’s independent advisers on climate change, and the Labour Party. However, the UK is not yet on track to meet the Government’s existing target of 100% Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) by 2040, mainly due to a lack of an overarching policy to deliver the petrol and diesel phase-out.

Scrapping the scrappage scheme

Scrapping the scrappage scheme

It is welcome news that UK Government has dismissed reports that it was considering a scrappage scheme for petrol and diesel cars as a short-term economic stimulus measure. In a typical scrappage scheme, the government would pay car owners to scrap their current vehicle in return for credit against a new one, thereby stimulating the manufacturing sector. However, scrappage schemes are generally not a desirable policy, because they tend to be an inefficient use of public funds, work against the grain of transport decarbonisation, and send mixed price signals alongside Electric Vehicle subsidies.

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