3rd March 2020
This article originally appeared on Politics Home
Peter Aldous MP: Government must secure the UK’s energy independence by investing in domestic production. 2nd March 2020
We need to diversify our energy portfolio by moving away from fossil fuels and backing low-carbon technology fit for our net zero future, writes Peter Aldous MP
Energy security is vital to UK prosperity. As a net importer of all main fuel types, further investment in domestic production is needed to not only limit our exposure to foreign shocks impacting the cost or supply of fossil fuels, but to facilitate the transition to a net zero economy and to diversify our energy portfolio.
To meet our legal obligations, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has emphasised the need to ramp up the policies which will form the foundation of the net zero economy, which includes quadrupling our supply of low-carbon electricity by 2050, developing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and low-carbon hydrogen.
This transition must take place rapidly and must be supported by an integrated national policy framework. We must move away from fossil fuels towards a combination of gas-fired power stations run with CCS, nuclear and renewable sources including offshore and onshore wind, solar and marine power.
The development of a smart grid, full rollout of smart meters and efforts to improve energy efficiency are also integral to success. In doing so we must ensure all new housing stock is built to required standards, with a focus on rooftop solar and insulation.
Government has a crucial role to play in this transition and it is clear that all future departmental decisions, particularly those on spending, must pass a net zero test to ensure that we deliver the target.
In the Waveney constituency that I represent, and across East Anglia, much is being achieved through harnessing natural resources. Parts of one of the largest clusters of offshore wind farms in the world are either in operation, being built, or being planned. 4GW of power is already operational off the East Anglian coast, accounting for over 50% of the UK’s installed capacity.
This success is being mirrored in energy hot spots around the UK and, with potential developments in the pipeline, we will be able to provide much of the Government’s newly revised higher target of 40GW by 2030 and subsequently 75GW by 2050.
Being the windiest country in Europe and with ambitious plans to expand offshore wind generation, it is clear the UK could become an energy exporter to Europe.
To meet the increased demand from electrification, particularly from electric vehicles and low-carbon heating, the Government should also support subsidy-free onshore wind projects. Enabling such projects to compete in contracts for difference auctions would provide a route to market for the cheapest source of new electricity generation to be built where there is local support, ensuring that we decarbonise at the lowest cost to the consumer
To maximise the potential of both onshore, offshore wind and solar, Government initiatives must be coupled with the development of battery storage, which will enable energy to be stored when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Equally, developments in battery technology to meet the expected boom in electric cars is key to future success.
Nuclear energy also has an important part to play in providing long-term low-carbon energy security and it is important we press ahead with projects such as Sizewell C in Suffolk.
Finally, with the UK having 50% of Europe’s tidal energy and 35% of its wave energy, the UK is in pole position to be the world leader in this sector, which could contribute to the UK’s future energy mix, further improving self-sufficiency. We should support these emerging technologies to bring down their costs, and consider funding arrangements to support them in their early stages, as we did with solar and wind.
Above all, it is the role of government and the private sector to act swiftly to obtain the optimum balance.
Peter Aldous is Conservative MP for Waveney
21st Feb 2019
Calor’s response to the Committee on Climate Change report – ‘UK housing; Fit for the future?’:
Calor Gas is concerned that the Committee on Climate Change is over-reaching its advisory role by attempting to dictate the technology British house builders and home owners should have to use in future new housing. The CCC is completely right to raise its concerns about the perceived lack of progress on reducing carbon emissions from heat, but some of its recommendations betray a lack of understanding and or vision about the low carbon solutions which could be used.
Calor does more than three quarters of its business supplying LPG to businesses and homes in the countryside which aren’t connected to the gas grid, so we are focused on bringing forward cost effective low carbon solutions to deliver the reduction in carbon emissions necessary to reach the UK’s legally binding carbon targets.
This is why we launched bioLPG onto the British market last year and we have already supplied enough bioLPG to meet the equivalent of 20% of our domestic central heating demand. We have also started to take bioLPG from a second supply source with more expected by the end of this year. It is our target to be only supplying renewable sourced energy products by 2040, so we are planning a future without the need for fossil fuels.
This is why we believe the CCC is being misguided and over-stepping its carbon emission monitoring and target setting role by straying into policy areas beyond its remit. In doing this they have completely ignored the potential role for other technologies which could deliver the same or even better carbon result at a lower cost and providing society with a choice.
Heat pumps have had a chequered history over recent years which is why house builders and home owners still favour high efficiency condensing gas boilers, which can be run on low carbon biogases like biomethane or bioLPG. Government will need to help consumers on the decarbonisation journey and today’s announcement is not conducive to this aim. By the same token the CCC’s requirement that everyone will have to cook on an electric induction hob completely ignores the fact that millions of people prefer to cook on gas and they could do this in an extremely low or even zero carbon way by using biogas.
We would also question the CCC’s suggested technology pathway when you look at the challenges of building new houses in rural areas. There is already a chronic shortage of affordable housing in rural areas and so any proposals to increase the cost of building new homes need careful scrutiny. That’s without considering the significant costs associated with insulating properties and reinforcing the rural electricity grid to make it all heat pump friendly.
It is imperative that the UK achieves urgent and drastic cuts in carbon emissions. However, there is no single solution and thankfully this is recognised by the Government if not by the CCC. Calor has already demonstrated the capability and commitment to meet the carbon challenge by delivering bioLPG at an early stage, backed by a commitment to phase out fossil fuels by 2040. Calor has been supplying gas to rural Britain for the last 84 years and plans to do the same in the long term with bioLPG.