Low car­bon power pro­duc­tion stalls

Manchester Evening News - - NATIONAL -

GROWTH in low-car­bon power gen­er­a­tion stalled in the UK last year, af­ter dou­bling in the decade since 2010, anal­y­sis sug­gests.

Power from re­new­ables grew by nearly a 10th, but that was off­set by fall­ing nu­clear gen­er­a­tion due to on­go­ing out­ages at Hun­ter­ston and Dun­geness re­ac­tors, cli­mate and en­ergy web­site Car­bon Brief found.

Over­all the amount of power gen­er­ated by low car­bon tech­nolo­gies in­creased by just 0.6 per cent or one ter­awatt hour of gen­er­a­tion in 2019, com­pared to 2018, the as­sess­ment by Car­bon Brief re­vealed.

Over the decade, gen­er­a­tion from low car­bon sources has dou­bled, as a re­sult of boom­ing re­new­able power which has in­creased five-fold since 2010.

But to meet goals to clean up en­ergy gen­er­a­tion as part of tar­gets to tackle cli­mate change, sig­nif­i­cantly more low car­bon power will be needed by 2030, the Car­bon Brief anal­y­sis shows.

Cut­ting pol­lu­tion to 100 grams of car­bon diox­ide per kilo­watt hour of power (gCO2/ kwh) and meet­ing ex­pected de­mand as more heat­ing and cars switch to elec­tric­ity, will re­quire low car­bon sup­plies to in­crease by three fifths.

Clean elec­tric­ity will have to in­crease from 176 ter­awatt hours of power in 2019 to 276 ter­awatt hours at the end of this decade. And 50 to 60 ter­awatt hours of power from old nu­clear plants such as Hun­ter­ston and Dun­geness which are set to re­tire in the next decade, will need to be re­placed by other low car­bon sources of elec­tric­ity.

A new nu­clear plant, Hink­ley Point C, with a ca­pac­ity of 3.2 gi­gawatts of power, will only re­place around up to half of the gen­er­a­tion lost as old re­ac­tors close. The Gov­ern­ment also has tar­gets for 40 gi­gawatts of new off­shore wind farms to come on­line in the next decade.

But Car­bon Brief warned it was not cer­tain the off­shore wind farms could clean up the grid enough to meet the 2030 goal with­out in­creases from other sources such as on­shore wind, so­lar and ad­di­tional new nu­clear.

The as­sess­ment also shows fos­sil fuel out­put fell 6pc in 2019, and has halved since 2010, with 83 days with­out any power from coal in the past year. There were four months in 2019 when re­new­ables gen­er­ated more elec­tric­ity in the UK than fos­sil fu­els across the month, and 137 in­di­vid­ual days when that was the case. And over­all UK elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion con­tin­ued to fall, with a 3pc drop in 2019 com­pared to 2018, in part due to in­creas­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. In­dus­try body Re­new­ableUK’s Luke Clark said en­ergy pol­icy had to sup­port a full range of clean power sources to reach the new le­gal tar­get to cut emis­sions to net zero by 2050. “Off­shore wind will be the back­bone of Bri­tain’s fu­ture clean en­ergy sys­tem, with 40 gi­gawatts in­stalled by 2030,” he said. “But to meet our tar­gets we need to dou­ble down on all of our re­new­able re­sources by un­block­ing on­shore wind and max­imis­ing the po­ten­tial of in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies like float­ing wind and ti­dal power.”

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