Increasing the amount of energy the UK gets from low-carbon technologies such as renewables and nuclear, and reducing emissions through carbon capture and storage (CCS), will help us to:
- make sure the UK has a secure supply of energy
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow down climate change
- stimulate investment in new jobs and businesses
Low Carbon Energy Innovation
Innovation in energy technologies is essential if the UK is to meet our challenging future climate change goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Low Carbon Innovation Co-ordination Group (LCICG) brings together the major public sector backed organisations that are supporting low carbon innovation in the UK.
The LCICG aims to maximise the impact of UK public sector support for low carbon technologies to deliver aims shared by all of these organisations.
LCICG’s Strategic Framework
The Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group has now published its Strategic Framework, Coordinating Low Carbon Technology Innovation Support.
The Strategic Framework sets out the LCICG’s planned approach to collaboration and the prioritisation of future innovation support programmes. Building on the Technology Innovation Needs Assessments (TINAs) evidence base it also presents a shared assessment of the key innovation needs that will likely require government support between now and 2020.
Exploiting renewable sources
We are legally committed to meeting 15% of the UK’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. Achieving this will help us to achieve the UK’s energy security and carbon reduction objectives.
Renewables will also have a crucial role to play in the UK energy mix in the decades beyond, making the most of the UK’s abundant natural resources.
To increase and accelerate the use of renewable energy in the UK, we have introduced:
- Renewables Obligation (RO) – provides incentives for large-scale renewable electricity generation by making UK suppliers source a proportion of their electricity from eligible renewable sources
- Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme – pays energy users who invest in small-scale, low-carbon electricity generation systems for the electricity they generate and use, and for unused electricity they export back to the grid
- Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – pays commercial, industrial, public, not-for-profit and community generators of renewable heat for a 20-year period
- UK Renewable Energy Roadmap – sets out a plan for accelerating the use of onshore wind, offshore wind, marine energy, solar PV, biomass electricity and heat, ground source and air source heat pumps, and renewable transport
- Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation – makes companies that supply more than 450,000 litres of fuel per year source a percentage from renewable sources
- support for other renewable technologies, eg heat networks
- ‘Connect and manage network access regime’ and other actions to make sure new generators can connect to the electricity network in a timely, secure and cost-effective way
Our Electricity Market Reform proposals will also provide support for renewable electricity generation from 2014 onwards.
Investing in new nuclear power
The aim is to have the first new nuclear power stations generating electricity from around 2019. We’re reducing regulatory and planning risks for investors in new nuclear through:
- National Policy Statements – used to assess sites for potential new nuclear powers stations
- Regulatory justification – a process to establish whether the benefits of new nuclear reactor designs outweigh the health risks
- waste and decommissioning arrangements to make sure operators of new nuclear power stations put aside sufficient funds to pay for future decommissioning and waste disposal
- Generic Design Assessment – used to assess the safety, security and environmental aspects of new reactor designs
We’re making sure National Grid is assessing and developing the potential reinforcements needed on the electricity network to accommodate new nuclear power in a secure, timely and cost-effective way.
We’re also working with nuclear reactor vendors and operators to create and support a globally competitive UK supply chain and to make sure the UK has a workforce that is appropriately skilled to build new power stations.
Creating a new carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry
CCS is essential in mitigating global climate change while ensuring a secure energy supply. It involves capturing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power stations (or large industrial sources), transporting it via pipelines and then storing it safely offshore in deep underground structures such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or deep saline aquifers.
We have developed one of the most comprehensive programmes in the world to help create a new CCS industry. Through our programme we are:
- running a competition (with £1 billion capital funding available) to support practical experience in the design, construction and operation of commercial-scale CCS
- funding a 4-year co-ordinated research, development and innovation programme
- working with industry to reduce costs of CCS technology, develop the supply chain, create storage and help develop CCS infrastructure
Find out more about the Next steps in CCS: policy scoping document
Find out more about how we’re supporting the development of a CCS industry.
Reforming the UK electricity market
The Electricity Market Reform (EMR) programme will significantly change the electricity market. It will result in £110 billion investment for the UK to secure an affordable supply of electricity while meeting our climate change targets.
As part of the programme, we are introducing:
- Feed-in Tariffs with Contracts for Difference (CfD) – a mechanism to support investment in low-carbon generation:
- Capacity Market – a mechanism to support security of supply if needed
- the institutional arrangements to support these reforms
The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive set a target for the UK to achieve 15% (up from 3%) of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. We acknowledged that to meet this target the UK needs to change the way energy is generated and used for electricity, heat and transport.
We took advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and worked with the renewables industry to assess how much renewable energy can be generated up to 2020 and identify potential barriers. In July 2011 the government and devolved administrations published the UK Renewables Energy Roadmap (updated in December 2012), which sets out the plan for accelerating the deployment and use of renewable energy to help meet the 2020 target.
At the same time the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) published a white paper on Electricity Market Reform. This presents the measures we’re introducing to attract investment, keep energy bills as low as possible in the long run and secure a mix of low-carbon electricity sources that includes renewables, new nuclear, CCS and gas.
We believe new nuclear power can help the UK secure energy supply and meet its climate change targets. When the National Policy Statements for Energy Infrastructure were approved in July 2011, they listed 8 sites considered suitable for new nuclear power stations.
We have been working with industry and the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to develop guidance for consumers containing advice on different technologies, the types of financial support available and how to find installers and products. The microgeneration factsheets cover:
- the suitability of each technology for your home
- the benefits of installing each technology
- the financial support schemes and what you need in order to be eligible
information on system cost, potential energy savings and income levels
- Energy Saving Trust: Microgenration guides