Transitioning to a Net Zero Energy System
The UK is the first major economy to set out its net-zero energy target, which includes the ambitious target of becoming a global leader in off-shore generation of 40GW by 2030, with other commitments delivered by 2050. The government’s ten-point plan is regarded as the most significant policy change for the energy supply and infrastructure industry in ten years, and will require significant commitment to change across almost all industry sectors, not just energy production.
The plan’s targets include significant commitment to the growth of greener power generation technologies, with plans to localise energy production and storage. Moving to smaller energy plants to much more local areas, under the responsibility of local authorities, will lead to reduced emissions and loss from the transport of energy away from centralised plants, as well as better employment and economic prospects in those areas.
Perhaps the most challenging target is achieving net-zero emissions in the transport sector. Emissions from cars, lorries, planes, and ships have not changed in decades, despite the improvements in vehicle efficiency, the arrival of electric vehicles, and the use of cleaner petrol and diesel. The benefits of more efficient vehicles have been negated by an overall increase in the number of miles driven.
The strategy has received some criticism for failing to make funding available for the development of active travel facilities which would encourage people to make more journeys on foot, by bicycle, or public transport, while failing to make unpopular policies for reducing flights and traffic.
The plan is ambitious, and is sure to be met with opposition over the coming years, especially the government’s desire to build advanced small nuclear reactors which will be needed to support renewable sources, such as wind farms when the breeze is too low or the wind to high to enable to the production of power from wind turbines.
The full document, “Transitioning to a net zero energy system: Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan 2021”, can be found here.
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