UK’s renewable energy push drives fastest decarbonisation in the world
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- Feb 18, 2020 2:11 pm GMTFeb 18, 2020 11:40 am GMT
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A new independent analysis made by academics from Imperial College London has revealed that the UK’s push towards renewable energy since 2010 has driven the fastest rate of decarbonisation anywhere in the world.
Shift to renewables makes the UK the best decarbonisation performer in the world
According to the analysis, the emissions from the power sector tumbled from 161 million tonnes to 54 million between 2010 to 2019. The big decline was a result of the increased focus on renewable sources of power generation.
“In the past decade, we’ve seen unprecedented changes in Britain’s power system, which has transformed at a speed never seen before. Several factors made significant contributions to falling emissions including carbon prices, coal retirements, conversions to biomass and the growth in wind capacity. But reductions in electricity demand dwarfed all the others- helping to push down power prices and environmental impacts,” said Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London.
The shift to renewables has resulted in the pace of decarbonisation being the fastest in the world over the last decade.
Demand for electricity was also shown to have declined by 13% over the decade due to the introduction of more energy-efficient technologies. This decrease is made even more surprising since over the same period the UK population grew by 7% and GDP rose by a quarter.
New plans could reverse decarbonisation rates
These gains the report warns could be harmed by the planned increase in the electrification of heating and transport as recently proposed by Ofgem and the government. With these set to soar the gains made could, in the long run, be wiped out making those policies more environmentally harmful than the current situation.
Wind generation has already broken records for energy production, but according to Drax its Biomass that can be the biggest contributor to reducing emissions.
“Replacing coal with sustainable biomass at Drax has cut our carbon emissions by more than 80%, transforming the business to become the largest renewable power generator in the UK, accelerating decarbonisation over the decade as well as supporting lower wholesale power prices. As the UK strives to achieve its world-leading net zero carbon target, it’s clear the power system will have to continue evolving and many different solutions, including negative emissions technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), will be needed alongside more renewables,” said Drax chief executive of generation Andy Koss.
Whether this news will appease the likes of Extinction Rebellion who once again made the headlines for causing chaos in Cambridge and London is highly unlikely, but as Dr Stafell said:
“If this pace of change can be maintained, renewables could provide more than half Britain’s electricity by the end of this decade and the power system could be practically carbon-free.”