Citizens Advice: Government lacking 'credible' plan to decarbonise heat

12 July 2019, source edie newsroom

The Government's failure to implement a "credible" framework for the decarbonisation of heat for commercial and domestic use could undermine public confidence in the net-zero transition, Citizens Advice has warned.

The UK's heat networks currently serve about 500,000 customers, but this could rise to five million by mid-century 

The UK's heat networks currently serve about 500,000 customers, but this could rise to five million by mid-century

In a letter to Ministers today, the charity criticises the Government for leaving “large gaps” in policies surrounding the regulation of low-carbon technologies like heat networks.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has consistently claimed that heat networks could deliver up to 18% of UK heating demand by 2030. Taking notice of this, the Government has recently launched a £320m scheme to help accelerate the adoption of low-carbon heat networks across the UK's public, private and domestic sectors and an Energy Systems Catapult centre to assist small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) with decarbonising their heat systems.

While welcoming this progress, Citizens Advice is arguing that policy is not currently sufficient to protect consumers during the decarbonisation of heat and is likely to result in customer confusion, infrequent and inaccurate billing, and, therefore, overpayment. The charity is voicing concerns that, as most of the costs related to the decarbonisation of the energy system are currently paid for through energy bills, those on low incomes could end up paying a disproportionate share of that cost.

The organisation’s key recommendation for preventing this is the establishment of an independent commission on a “just” transition to low-carbon energy, including heat. It is additionally calling for a consultation on the Government’s upcoming Energy White Paper, to be made open to industry and the general public, as well as legislation to extend Ofgem’s regulation powers to cover heat networks.

Citizens Advice’s chief executive Gillian Guy has claimed that these moves need to be undertaken as soon as possible “to prevent the bad practice of today becoming the standard practice of tomorrow”.

“The way we heat our homes needs to undergo a major transformation, and how we manage that process and fairly distribute the costs needs the urgent attention of Government,” Guy said.

“An independent commission is the only way to make sure the pathway to net-zero is assessed in a rigorous, transparent and timely way.”

Industry progress

The UK currently plays host to around 14,000 heat networks, which collectively serve more than half a million customers – both business and domestic.

However, much more will need to be done in this space if the UK is going to meet its new 2050 target of a net-zero carbon economy, the CCC has claimed. Heating and hot water account for around 15% of the UK's overall carbon footprint, with the nation currently off-track to meet a key target of ensuring 12% of heat is generated using renewables by 2020.

Responding to Citizens Advice’s report, the Association of Decentralised Energy’s (ADE) head of operations Lily Frencham said: “Citizens Advice are right that there is a need for a credible plan from the Government, working with industry and other key interests, to decarbonise heat if net-zero is to be delivered.

“The building of more heat networks is widely acknowledged to be a key component to any future plans. They are key in urban areas, allowing towns and cities up to capture otherwise wasted heat and deliver it to homes and offices driving down emissions.  Appropriate regulation of heat networks is necessary, to provide customers with confidence and protection around issues such as billing, while giving businesses and local authorities confidence to make the necessary investment in the new heat networks that will be needed.”

UKPN, Piclo herald ‘significant milestone’ as winners emerge from maiden commercial flexibility tender

Image: UKPN.

Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks (UKPN) and energy technology firm Piclo are celebrating the completion of a new flexibility auction, the first time the latter’s online platform has been used for commercial purposes.

The platform, years in development, has been tested extensively but has now been used at the commercial scale for the first time, helping UKPN procure 18.1MW of flexibility.

Contracts worth £450,000 have been awarded to AMP Clean Energy, Limejump, Powervault and Moixa, with the flexibility procured used by UKPN to offset more costly grid reinforcements in constrained areas of the network.

The Piclo platform creates a heat-map of areas of congestion, correlating them with providers of flexibility with resources such as demand side response, battery storage and behind-the-meter generation. Network operators can then contract this capacity to minimise these bottlenecks.

The auction was first announced in May this year, with details to follow “in due course”, and following its success, UKPN has now handed Piclo an ongoing commercial contract, the tech company’s second such contract having secured a similar arrangement with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks earlier this year.

James Johnston, chief executive and co-founder at Piclo, said the company was thrilled from the results of its first auction, realised after “years of trials and ongoing development”.

“As renewables have boomed across the UK and internationally, grid congestion and the network flexibility required to affordably alleviate it have become top priorities for network companies.

“This first full, commercial auction will be the first of many as distribution companies across the UK and even internationally take UK Power Network’s lead in enabling the shift to a smart, flexible, low-carbon power system.”

Piclo continues to work with all six of Britain’s distribution network operators after penning an agreement with Western Power Distribution late last year, and the company also counts tens of flexibility providers in its ranks.

Sotiris Georgioupoulos, head of smart grid development at UKPN, said flexibility offered the DNO a “wealth of opportunities”.

“All of the bids we accepted in this tender round met our robust economic criteria to ensure they will benefit our customers by offering lower costs in comparison to the traditional approach of building new assets. The UK is a world-leader in smart grid technology and flexibility has a key role to play as we move towards a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised network that will offer significant benefits to our customers.”

Local smart energy systems key to net zero, says ADE

Image: Nottingham City Council

Image: Nottingham City Council

Local energy generation and flexibility are essential to reaching net zero, new analysis from the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) has argued.

Local onsite generation is key to a net zero future, the ADE says, advocating for smarter, more flexible energy systems supported by government and Ofgem. The association predicts that the traditional centralised approach will be replaced by a smart, user-led system, with local energy and consumers at the heart.

It argues that the way to achieve this future energy system is through on-site flexibility and energy storage, energy efficiency, implementation of heat networks and on-site combined heat and power systems.

The ADE points to estimates made by the National Infrastructure Commission that reducing peak demand through energy management by 5% would reduce power system costs by £200 million each year and give consumers £790 million a year in added benefits.

And that peak power demand could be reduced by up to 15% if the UK achieves comparable levels of flexibility to other markets such as Australia and the US.

It is now calling on the government and Ofgem to support this through opening up access to markets to ensure payment for local generation and flexibility, for example through changing the timings of energy use, storage or demand flexibility.

Lord Deben, chair of the Committee on Climate Change, said local onsite generation and energy management will play “a central role” in achieving net zero.

“Giving customers the power to help drive the UK’s low carbon transition is vital and we need credible UK policies, across government, that inspire a strong response from business, industry and society as a whole.”

Tim Rotheray, director of the ADE, said now is the time to focus on the role of local energy.

“If government puts customer-led energy at the heart of its policy making and works alongside business, we can put power back into the hands of customers and meet our net zero in a fair way.”

Consultation on Flexibility Services

‘Simpler is better’: Open Networks Project launches consultation to simplify flexibility services

Image: Arsenal FC.

Image: Arsenal FC.

Flexibility markets must be simple for stakeholders if the UK is to truly “unlock” the power of new energy technologies, the Energy Networks Association’s Open Networks Project has said.

The project, which aims to transform the way the country’s energy networks operate, has launched a new consultation aimed specifically at those nascent flexibility markets, intending to understand how network operators can best aid homeowners, businesses and communities benefit from them.

Having unveiled a landmark flexibility commitment late last year, network operators in the UK have been quick to embrace flexibility markets as a cost effective alternative to costly reinforcement works.

Earlier this week Western Power Distribution announced that it was seeking to procure more than 140MW of flexibility services through a regional tender programme, targeting areas of constraint, as it seeks to ramp up its own adoption of flexibility

Indeed, research compiled by the government’s National Infrastructure Commission has shown that a more flexible energy system could save consumers as much as £8 billion a year by 2030.

The ENA’s consultation also follows on from its recent ‘Six Steps for Delivering Flexibility Services’ document, and is seeking further detail on how those steps can be developed and used to bring together best practice guidelines and standardisation in the market place.

David Smith, chief executive of the Energy Networks Association, said that the launch of the consultation made a fundamental point regarding flexibility, that simpler is better.

Ease of access to flexibility markets for the widest possible range of people has to be right at the top of the agenda.

“That’s key so that Britain’s energy networks can access the deepest, most liquid flexibility markets possible to help connect more clean energy technologies to the grid at the lowest possible cost to the public, all whilst creating an environment that fosters the kind of smart energy innovation that Britain has become known for the world over.”

In addition to refining the six steps, the consultation is to narrow in on the end-to-end processes required when procuring flexibility services and the commercial arrangements that underpin them. While the work is expected to continue into next year, short-term changes are also being explored.

More information on the consultation, which is open until 23 August 2019, can be found here.

UK's biggest carbon capture project is step-change on emissions

The UK’s biggest carbon capture project will soon block thousands of tonnes of factory emissions from contributing to the climate crisis, by using them to help make the chemicals found in antacid, eyedrops and Pot Noodle.

Within two years a chemical plant in Cheshire could keep 40,000 tonnes of carbon from the air every year, or the equivalent of removing 22,000 cars from the UK’s roads.

The plant’s owners, a division of the Indian-owned Tata conglomerate, will then use the captured carbon to make the chemicals found in glass, baking soda or even medicine.

The project is a step-change in the UK’s battle to cut carbon emissions from heavy industry and will capture more than 100 times the carbon dioxide trapped by an existing trial at the Drax power plant in North Yorkshire.

The plans are backed by the government, which has agreed to give Tata Chemicals Europe a £4.2m grant towards the £16.7m cost of the project.

Drax will receive a £5m government grant for a pilot, which could keep up to 16m tonnes of carbon from the air by the mid-2020s.

In total the government plans to spend £26m to spur nine carbon capture projects which are “essential” if the UK hopes to reach its goal of cutting carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. It is also spending £170m to create a net zero carbon “industrial cluster” in the UK by 2040.

Carbon capture effectively traps the emissions from power plants or factory flues before they enter the atmosphere and contribute to global heating.

The trapped carbon dioxide could be piped into permanent underground storage facilities, but it can also be purified to make products.

Tata plans to refine the carbon emissions to make a high-grade liquid version of carbon dioxide which will help make sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda.

The company is the only UK-based maker of baking soda which is in high demand by the pharmaceutical sector to help treat conditions from heartburn to kidney disease. It is also found in ear and eye drops.

Tata is also the only company in the UK which produces soda ash, or sodium carbonate, which is used to make detergents, lemon sherbet power and glass.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

Martin Ashcroft, head of Tata Chemicals Europe, said the “hugely exciting” project would help to “reduce our carbon emissions, whilst securing supplies of a critical raw material”.

Tata also owns one of India’s biggest energy companies and has promised to end investment in coal plants to focus of wind and solar power.

Chris Skidmore, the minister for energy and clean growth, said: “Cutting edge technology to capture carbon will cut emissions as we work towards a net zero economy, while creating new jobs – a key part of our modern industrial strategy.”

Barclays pledges to source 100% renewable electricity by 2030

6 June 2019, source, Sarah George at the edie newsroom

Transatlantic banking giant Barclays has pledged to source 100% renewable electricity by 2030, with an interim goal of 90% by 2025.

More than 170 companies have set 100% renewable targets under RE100 to date

More than 170 companies have set 100% renewable targets under RE100 to date

Given that the majority of its carbon footprint is currently accounted for by Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (power-related) emissions, Barclays claims that the move will reduce its absolute global emissions by 80% by 2025.

In order to reach the new target, the company will sign a series of power purchase agreements (PPAs) with energy suppliers that own or operate external wind and solar projects across its two main markets – the UK and the US. These two markets account for 70% of the company’s total energy consumption.

Barclays has made the new commitment after joining The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative, which has garnered the support of more than 170 companies to date. This week has also seen Australian insurance major QBE join the RE100, setting its 100% renewable electricity target for 2025.

“Banks have broad environmental and social impact – both through our own operational footprint and through the ways that we mobilise capital, advise clients and develop products,” Barclays’ global head of sustainability and citizenship Alsa Palanza said.

“Joining RE100 and committing to sourcing 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources enables us to minimise our direct carbon emissions while we continue to work with our clients to help facilitate the global transition to less carbon-intensive sources of energy”.

According to the latest RE100 progress report, Barclays is far from alone in choosing to use PPAs to decarbonise its electricity mix. In 2017, 16% of the renewable electricity consumed by RE100 members was sourced through PPAs.

(Green) power surges

As of November 2018, 155 companies across 140 global markets had joined the RE100 initiative, with the group collectively sourcing 188TWh of clean power annually. RE100 members leverage a combined annual revenue of $4.5trn or 5% of global GDP, making the group a powerful source of financing for clean energy infrastructure.

The likes of 3MMerlin Entertainments and Vodafone are among the newest additions to the scheme, with The Climate Group aiming for 500 RE100 members by 2020. Earlier this month, Landsec and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) became the first two companies to join all three of The Climate Group’s business initiatives – RE100, EV100 and EP100, the latter of which focuses on energy efficiency.

Latest greenhouse gas emissions data shows steep rises in CO2 for seventh year

5 June 2019, source edie newsroom 

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by the second highest annual rise in the past six decades, according to new data.

Readings from Hawaii observatory bring the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated (stock photo)

Readings from Hawaii observatory bring the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated (stock photo)

Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas were 414.8 parts per million in May, which was 3.5ppm higher than the same time last year, according to readings from the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, where carbon dioxide has been monitored continuously since 1958.

Scientists have warned for more than a decade that concentrations of more than 450ppm risk triggering extreme weather events and temperature rises as high as 2C, beyond which the effects of global heating are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible.

May is the most significant month for global carbon dioxide concentrations because it is the peak value for the year, before the growth of vegetation in the northern hemisphere starts to absorb the gas from the air. The seasonal peak and fall can be seen in the Keeling curve, named after Charles Keeling, who started the observations on Mauna Loa because of its isolation in the Pacific Ocean.

This is the seventh consecutive year in which steep increases in ppm have been recorded, well above the previous average, and the fifth year since the 400ppm threshold was breached in 2014. In 2016, the highest annual jump in the series so far was recorded, from 404.1 in 2015 to 407.66 in 2016.

As recently as the 1990s, the average annual growth rate was about 1.5ppm, but in the past decade that has accelerated to 2.2ppm, and is now even higher. This brings the threshold of 450ppm closer sooner than had been anticipated. Concentrations of the gas have increased every year, reflecting our burning of fossil fuels.

Ralph Keeling of the Scripps Institute, and the son of Charles, said: “The CO2 growth rate is still very high – the increase from last May was well above the average for the past decade.” He pointed to the mild El Niño conditions experienced this year as a possible factor.

Tuesday’s findings come from Mauna Loa and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has also made complementary independent measurements of greenhouse gas concentrations since the 1970s. NOAA’s Barrow observatory on Alaska’s North Slope showed an average of 417.4ppm over the period, but the Arctic typically has higher CO2 readings than the Mauna Loa series.

Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA, said: “It is critically important to have these accurate long-term measurements of CO2 in order to understand how quickly fossil fuels are changing our climate. These are measurements of the real atmosphere, and do not depend on any models, but they help us verify climate model projections, which if anything have underestimated the rapid pace of climate change being observed.”

Fiona Harvey

This article first appeared on the Guardian
edie is part of the Guardian Environment Network

French interconnector trip triggers flexibility providers into action

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Flexibility providers sprang into action late last week after Britain’s interconnector suffered a trip, causing around 1GW of capacity to fall off the system.

Last Friday the interconnector between Britain and France suffered a trip, causing its output to half in moments. Around 1GW of generation capacity effectively fell off the grid, causing fluctuations in the frequency of the grid.

A graph illustrating the interconnector's trip and the subsequent drop in capacity. Image: Limejump.

A graph illustrating the interconnector's trip and the subsequent drop in capacity. Image: Limejump.

Grid frequency fell to 49.63Hz, prompting National Grid ESO to call upon its portfolio of frequency response assets to back the system up.

While the frequency was comfortably within its 49.5-50.5Hz limit - the System Operator has a normal operating target of 49.8Hz - and there was no risk of the fault triggering a stress event, flexibility providers were called into action while the trip was offset.

The trip's effect on grid frequency, which prompted frequency response providers to kick in. Image: Limejump.

The trip's effect on grid frequency, which prompted frequency response providers to kick in. Image: Limejump.

Energy aggregator Limejump said dynamic frequency response assets, predominantly batteries, were the first to respond, and were called upon to export “harder and harder” in response to the shift in frequency. Static frequency response assets such as diesel generators were next.

In total, National Grid instructed a range of assets to respond to the trip, highlighting the role flexibility providers have carved out for themselves in helping maintain a stable grid.

A spokesperson for Limejump confirmed that its batteries had been called upon throughout, but stressed the impact on pricing within the balancing mechanism was minimal.

“BM pricing doesn't react immediately as you submit prices one hour in advance. However Limejump assets were called by the control room at better prices than they would have received if there was no event.

“There would be an uplift in prices as 1GW of extra power [was] needed to be procured, but… on this occasion, we didn't see an immense price surge, but events like this can have that effect and are happening more frequently with the increasingly volatile energy market,” the spokesperson added.

Fellow aggregator Flexitricity was also called into action, and the company’s founder Dr Alastair Martin said the delivery of assets was “perfect” in response.

“Sudden failures of the French interconnector are not uncommon – in a bad year it might happen ten times. The level of frequency deviation, while a little on the high side for this size of loss, is not abnormal.

“Flexitricity has responded to these incidents before and stand ready to do so again. Having a varied portfolio of assets to use allows us to be prepared for fluctuations in energy demands and maximise value for our clients.”

The interconnector’s trip just happened to occur at a time when the UK grid was in the midst of a coal-free fortnight, a spell in which surging wind generation helped shunt coal off the grid, but also caused significant volatility in the country’s system price for energy.

All the World’s Carbon Emissions in One Chart

May 31, 2019  By 
global carbon emissions

All the World’s Carbon Emissions in One Chart

Two degrees Celsius may not seem like much, but on our planet, it could be the difference between thriving life and a disastrous climate.

Over two centuries of burning fossil fuels have added up, and global decision-makers and business leaders are focusing in on carbon emissions as a key issue.

Emissions by Country

This week’s chart uses the most recent data from Global Carbon Atlas to demonstrate where most of the world’s CO₂ emissions come from, sorted by country.

RankCountryEmissions in 2017 (MtCO₂)% of Global Emissions
🌐 Rest of World10,02827.7%
#1🇨🇳 China9,83927.2%
#2🇺🇸 United States5,26914.6%
#3🇮🇳 India2,4676.8%
#4🇷🇺 Russia1,6934.7%
#5🇯🇵 Japan1,2053.3%
#6🇩🇪 Germany7992.2%
#7🇮🇷 Iran6721.9%
#8🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia6351.8%
#9🇰🇷 South Korea6161.7%
#10🇨🇦 Canada5731.6%
#11🇲🇽 Mexico4901.4%
#12🇮🇩 Indonesia4871.3%
#13🇧🇷 Brazil4761.3%
#14🇿🇦 South Africa4561.3%
#15🇹🇷 Turkey4481.2%
🌐 Top 1526,12572.2%

In terms of absolute emissions, the heavy hitters are immediately obvious. Large economies such as China, the United States, and India alone account for almost half the world’s emissions. Zoom out a little further, and it’s even clearer that just a handful of countries are responsible for the majority of emissions.

Of course, absolute emissions don’t tell the full story. The world is home to over 7.5 billion people, but they aren’t distributed evenly across the globe. How do these carbon emissions shake out on a per capita basis?

Here are the 20 countries with the highest emissions per capita:

Emissions per capita
Source: Global Carbon Atlas. Note: We’ve only included places with a population above one million, which excludes islands and areas such as Curaçao, Brunei, Luxembourg, Iceland, Greenland, and Bermuda.

Out of the original 30 countries in the main visualization, six countries show up again as top CO₂ emitters when adjusted for population count: Saudi Arabia, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Russia, and Germany.

The CO₂ Conundrum

We know that rapid urbanization and industrialization have had an impact on carbon emissions entering the atmosphere, but at what rate?

Climate data scientist Neil Kaye answers the question from a different perspective, by mapping what percentage of emissions have been created during your lifetime since the Industrial Revolution:

Your Age% of Total Global Emissions
15 years oldYou've been alive for more than 30% of emissions
30 years oldYou've been alive for more than 50% of emissions
85 years oldYou've been alive for more than 90% of emissions

Put another way, the running total of emissions is growing at an accelerating rate. This is best seen in the dramatic shortening between the time periods taken for 400 billion tonnes of CO₂ to enter the atmosphere:

  • First period: 217 years (1751 to 1967)
  • Second period: 23 years (1968 to 1990)
  • Third period: 16 years (1991 to 2006)
  • Fourth period: 11 years (2007 to 2018)

In order to be a decarbonised economy by 2050, we have to bend the (emissions) curve by 2020… Not only is it urgent and necessary, but actually we are very nicely on our way to achieving it.

— Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020

Renewable energy jobs in UK plunge by a third

The number of jobs in renewable energy in the UK has plunged by nearly a third in recent years, and the amount of new green generating capacity by a similar amount, causing havoc among companies in the sector, a new report has found.

Prospect, the union which covers much of the sector, has found a 30% drop in renewable energy jobs between 2014 and 2017, as government cuts to incentives and support schemes started to bite. It also found investment in renewables in the UK more than halved between 2015 and 2017.

The union compared the situation to the devastation caused to coalmining communities in the 1980s and demanded instead a “just transition” to clean energy.

The Prospect report analysed and collated data taken from various sources, including the government, surveys and industry.

Sue Ferns, the senior deputy secretary general at Prospect, told the Guardian: “The government’s market-led approach has failed, and resulted on offshoring green jobs while UK workers are left behind. Without a proper industrial strategy from government that promotes low-carbon generation like renewables and new nuclear, we will be unable to secure the future of our energy supply, which is under threat in the coming decade.”

The focus on Brexit had not helped, she added. “The government’s tunnel vision on Brexit means the real challenges facing our country have been neglected for too long. We need a sensible deliverable strategy that provides a stable long-term pathway to decarbonisation.”

The drastic fall in jobs came as the government effectively shut down schemes that rewarded consumers for buying solar panels, withdrew subsidies for onshore wind and reduced incentives for low-carbon energy. Ministers have argued that as the costs of renewable energy have fallen sharply in recent years, the industries should no longer rely on public subsidy, but multiple redrawings of government schemes in recent years have helped to create turmoil and a lack of certainty for companies.

Government support has taken the form of various schemes across the last decade, including feed-in tariffs for consumers with solar panels, a renewables obligation forcing the big energy suppliers to invest in renewables, and most recently, contracts for difference. The latter were meant to overhaul the whole energy sector by setting up auctions by which companies would bid for generation contracts favouring low-carbon energy, but early troubles meant dirty energy such as diesel generators were often the inadvertent winners, and while the scheme still operates it has enjoyed little support from successive chancellors.

Between 2016 and 2017, there was a sharp fall in investment in UK renewables, which fell 56% to the lowest level since 2008, according to the as-yet-unpublished Prospect report that has been seen by the Guardian. Last year, the annual rate of addition of renewables capacity fell to its lowest level since 2012, which the union said was driven by the collapse in solar and onshore wind deployment. Without the significant rise in bioenergy capacity that took place in 2018, the fall in new renewables would have been much greater, the union said.

While some sectors have remained buoyant, such as offshore wind, new capacity in onshore wind in England slowed markedly after the government withdrew financial support and changed planning laws to make the construction of windfarms more difficult.

Luke Clark, head of external affairs at the trade body RenewableUK, said: “We’re expecting the number of direct jobs in offshore wind to treble to 27,000 by 2030, as part of the landmark offshore wind sector deal we’ve agreed with government, as this provides long-term certainty for the industry. However, as onshore wind remains excluded from government-backed auctions for contracts to generate power, the UK is missing out on employment and investment opportunities offered by this technology. The auction process has also failed to bring forward new technologies like tidal energy projects, so there is huge potential to ramp up employment in renewables as we move to net zero emissions.”

The trade union said the dismal picture for jobs in much of the sector contrasted with government rhetoric on issues such as moving to a net zero carbon target and parliament declaring a climate emergency.

Ferns told the Guardian: “Successive governments have promised us a green jobs revolution, but after an initial upsurge we have now started going backwards. This is deeply worrying for the future of the energy sector and for low-carbon jobs in the UK.”

She added: “The Committee on Climate Change has recommended zero carbon by 2050 and others are pushing for even more ambitious timescales. We need a just transition for all the workers affected and this means we need to work proactively to ensure that the damage inflicted on coal communities in the 1980s is not repeated.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.