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UK Energy Policy

The UK energy system is going through a period of rapid change. The implications of the vote to leave the EU and subsequent changes within government are largely unknown. Uncertainties about the future of the energy system were already high; these changes have compounded them. The UK Energy Research Centre has produced an evidence-based commentary – addressing heat, transport, electricity, gas, and other major components of the energy system – which aims to take stock of UK energy policy ahead of the Autumn Statement, the Industrial Strategy and the Emissions Reduction Plan, and make recommendations for action by government. read more

the future of gas in the UK

Gas is sometimes seen as a bridging fuel between dirty coal and a low carbon future. But is that really true for the UK, and what future does it have in our energy mix? How much gas can we permit ourselves to use and still meet emission targets? And how damaging was the Chancellor’s withdrawal of support for carbon capture and storage? read more

power cuts and electricity blackouts

We’ve become accustomed to a reliable supply of electricity, but short, local power cuts still occur. And every year at this time we hear questions about whether we have enough power station capacity to meet demand – and about the risks of the ‘lights going out’. What causes power cuts and what can we expect in future? What will be the impact on reliability from changes in the electricity system from renewables and new nuclear, as well as the phasing out of coal power stations by 2025? What role will smart systems play, and what measures will be used to balance demand as well as supply? A new briefing document prepared by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) explores these questions and addresses the myths and truths about power cuts and blackouts. read more

new report: a critical time for UK energy policy

The whole UK energy system faces big changes to deliver against all aspects of the energy ‘trilemma’ — cost, security and decarbonisation. Speakers from the Royal Academy of Engineering will argue that so far, despite the challenges, the system is on course to meet the targets set by the UK and the EU, but only just; and that all the easiest actions have already been taken. Government policy drives the development of the UK’s energy system, but it will be up to privatised industry to deliver and invest. What’s in store for the UK’s energy mix? And what will happen to costs and decarbonisation? The Academy considers the possible futures of the UK’s energy system in a new report, A critical time for UK energy policy: what must be done now to deliver the UK’s future energy system. read more

the future of UK renewable electricity

New onshore wind farms will be excluded from a subsidy scheme from April 2016; together with planning and other changes, some say this could halt onshore wind in its tracks despite it being the cheapest source of clean electricity in the UK. Early closure of the renewable obligation subsidy and a review of feed-in tariffs will affect the future of solar. The ‘climate change levy’ now also applies to renewable energy sources, despite the fact they emit no net carbon. Scientists and engineers agree that the electricity sector needs to be decarbonised to meet UK climate targets. So where does this leave the technologies; and what future for renewable electricity in the UK? How will these policy shifts affect the UK energy mix, emissions and climate targets? And what messages does it send to investors and to climate negotiators in Paris? read more

fossil fuels – how much can we afford to extract?

Burning fossil fuels produces CO2. It has long been argued that if we are to limit the effects of climate change, some fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. But how much of each fuel; and which locations must remain untapped? read more

The future of gas

The UK Energy Research Centre is publishing a new report on the use of gas as a bridge to a low-carbon future. In ‘Gas by Design’, researchers examine the future role of gas in our energy mix if we are to prevent global temperatures from rising above 2C by 2100, and how much longer we can keep burning gas without widespread use of carbon capture. read more

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