No nuclear needed: Renewables could meet UK’s carbon targets, but only with new policies

The research and analysis firm has claimed that its power price modelling service has marked a “notable shift away” from previous thinking that new nuclear plants would be crucial towards meeting the country’s carbon targets.

It said that continued improvements in the development and operation of established renewables such as wind and solar has seen them becoming increasingly cost-effective, meaning that they could effectively offset the capacity new nuclear generation would provide, and at a lower cost to consumers.

EDF’s Hinkley Point C reactor is currently under development, but there remains considerable uncertainty over additional new nuclear plant in the UK after a string of developers pulled out of would-be projects citing deteriorating market conditions and economics.

Artist’s impression of plans for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station

 The government has promised to buy electricity worth £30bn over 35 years from the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. Photograph: EDF Energy/PA

In November last year Toshiba confirmed that it had scrapped plans to build a new nuclear power facility in Cumbria after it failed to find a buyer for its NuGen subsidiary.

That led energy secretary Greg Clark to claim that a “substantial pipeline” of renewables could fill the gap left by the Moorside project’s collapse.

The situation was then exacerbated in February when Hitachi suspended work on the Wylfa Newydd nuclear project in Wales, a development which some in the sector said risked “blowing a hole” in the UK’s decarbonisation strategy.

Cornwall’s latest forecasts would appear to indicate that new renewables could effectively curtail the need for new nuclear, at least immediately. But Ben Hall, head of new business at Cornwall Insight, said this could only occur with a significant ramp up of renewables policy.

“Despite the falling costs of solar PV, onshore and offshore wind and other low-carbon technologies, deployment may still need some form of support above and beyond the power markets. Captured wholesale prices for renewable projects will fall relative to baseload prices, leading to lower revenues because of what is commonly termed power price cannibalisation.

“From our modelling it is also evident that the combination of Capacity Market de-rating factors for renewables and projected clearing prices - even if they rise - is not going to be enough to encourage significant new-build merchant renewables,” he said.

Hall’s words echo those made by the Committee on Climate Change, which earlier this month recommended that the UK government establish a 2050 net zero target, but only if it is serious about doing so and willing to follow through on the necessary policy framework


HZI Hands Over 50 MW Waste to Energy Plant in Edinburgh

Hitachi Zosen Inova has handed over the 50 MW Millerhill waste to energy facility to FCC E&M Ltd., a subsidiary of FCC Environment Ltd in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Image © Hitachi Zosen Inova

The handover follows 31 months of construction for the plant, which is located in the east of the Scottish capital and will process around 155,000 metric tonnes of non-recyclable household and commercial waste.

The plant, which has a total generating capacity of 50 MW, will export over 12 MW of electricity is fed into the grid.
While the project in Edinburgh is HZI’s first foray into Scotland, it’s the fifth project the Swiss cleantech company has delivered on behalf of FCC.

Paul Taylor, Group Chief Executive at FCC, describes the collaboration: “After plants in Zistersdorf in Austria, Hartlebury and Greatmoor in England, and the installation in Majorca in Spain, we can now also look back on a successful partnership with HZI in Edinburgh. Once again, they’ve proven to be a reliable partner that professionally delivers a high-quality product.”

“For HZI this project in the UK marks a further milestone in one of Europe’s most important markets, underscoring our role as one of the global leaders in thermal energy recovery,” said Andres Kronenberg, Chief Business Development Officer at HZI. Alongside the HZI combustion technology, the installation also features HZI XeroSorp®, a dry flue gas treatment system whose sophisticated design both reduces the plant’s water consumption and boosts thermal energy recovery.


Scotland Pioneers Renewable Energy, Aims to Lead Climate Emergency

EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scotland, Europe’s largest producer of oil and gas, is pioneering the use of renewable energy in a bid to meet some of the most ambitious global climate targets.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” on April 28 and a few days later, made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero in 2045, five years before the rest of the UK.

The country has followed the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee, an independent advisory body, which said that the region has a greater number of sites that can be used to capture and store carbon dioxide and a vast area for planting trees.

If it succeeds in being a carbon neutral economy, capable of absorbing the CO2 it produces, Scotland would overtake the rest of the UK and to the European Union, which has set the objective for 2050, in line with the Climate Agreement of Paris.

Experts such as Karen Turner, director of the Centre for Energy Policy at the University of Strathclyde International Public Policy Institute in Glasgow, said that its biggest challenge will be to convert the oil and gas industry in the North Sea, which is an important part of the national economy.

Turner told Efe that the experience and skills in this sector could be applied to the capture and storage of CO2, the technique used to remove it from the atmosphere or directly prevent it from reaching it.

“Oil and gas extraction sites can be used to store carbon, which can be an opportunity to save jobs, and we know that many of the operators in the sector are interested in this type of mechanism that can change the type of industry North Sea,” she said.

Minister for Energy Paul Wheelhouse said Scotland should lead the development of this complex technology and make it “commercially viable for countries that can not afford such a level of research.”

An average of 1.7 million barrels of oil per day was produced in the North Sea in 2018, an increase of four percent over the previous year and the highest level since 2011, according to the UK Oil and Gas Authority.

Experts agree that, despite still having a significant production of fossil fuels, Scotland has opted to invest in renewable energy sources such as wind and, as of October, managed to produce cleanly an average of 98% of its electricity. The aspiration is to reach 100% next year.

The Orkney Islands, in the northeast, are a great component of this environmental revolution.

They produce more electricity than they can consume thanks to the commitment to wind, tidal and an incipient alternative: the generation of hydrogen from non-polluting sources.

In line with the new measures that the regional executive is implementing against global warming, it has decided to keep the controversial tax paid by passengers to fly from Scottish airports which previously it had committed to reduce.

Sturgeon’s cabinet has backed down by considering that it is not “compatible” with its environmental goals.

Turner said that the issue of how to reduce polluting emissions generated by aviation must be addressed “honestly.”

“This is one of the biggest problems, because we want Scotland to be an accessible and open place to the world, especially in the context of Brexit, and we also try to achieve climate objectives and rethink the issue of aviation, “he said.

Environmental organizations such as Greenpeace warn that meeting the goal of net zero emissions in 2050 is necessary to reduce the increase in the global temperature of the planet from three degrees to 1.5 degrees.


Consultation opens over the UK’s carbon price future

The UK government is consulting, along with the devolved administrations, on a new UK carbon pricing scheme that would be employed in the event the UK could not take part in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) after Brexit.

The consultation reiterates that a linked UK ETS is the preferred carbon pricing option, because it allows:

  • access to a larger market
  • increased abatement opportunities
  • more cost-effective emissions reductions for UK businesses

If that is not possible the government has promised that there would be a new arrangement that “would be at least as ambitious as the current EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and will provide a smooth transition for relevant sectors”. Fall-back options include the UK introducing its own domestic trading system, which would not be linked to the EU ETS or the introduction of a tax on carbon. It also considers  the implications if the UK participates in Phase IV of the EU ETS (as the UK is still in the UK, regulations for this phase have to be transposed into UK law during 2019).

A UK ETS would follow the EU model in auctioning allowances, but with some free allocations which the government said would help stop ‘carbon leakage’ when industries move to countries with no emission limits. Free allocation would not apply to the power sector. The auction would have a reserve price that would take into account recent prices for carbon emissions, which have ranged from £4.70 to £13.70.

Government is also considering a decarbonisation fund and considers whether such a fund should be set up and whether it should be funded from free or auctioned allowances.

An initial review of the new system would take place in 2023.

The consultation does not include detail of the carbon tax option, but it says responses may feed into further work on this alternative. It said if the option went forward, government would explore ways of incentivising installations to reduce emissions, how the rate would be set and how to ensure that businesses would have sufficient visibility of future costs.

See the full consultation here. The closing date is 12 July.

See the HMRC technical note on a carbon tax here


The Landfill Ban in Scotland - what next for the 1M tonne Gap

It seems fairly clear that the looming landfill ban to be enforced in Scotland by legislation, enacted in 2012 (The Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012) and which comes into force on 1st January 2021 will leave around 1 million tonnes of biodegradable residual waste stranded. In England there is no absolute ban yet, but the Committee on Climate Change has urged government in Westminster to follow Scotland's lead by 2025 and legislate by implementing a legally binding ban. Governments in Scotland and England have encouraged the reduction of landfilling biodegradable waste and thus the production of environmentally damaging methane by gradually increasing landfill tax in the expectation that private enterprise would step in and build more and better recycling; and energy recovery facilities (ERF's) for the inevitable material that cannot be recycled. To an extent this has been successful, but not entirely so and various estimates suggest that there will be a shortfall in available recycling and ERF's of 1M tonnes in Scotland and at least 8M tonnes in England.

In the last few months there has been an increasing media interest in what will happen in Scotland on 1st January 2021 when the ban comes into force. Various suggestions have been made including shipping to Europe, transporting it, by road or ship, to English landfill or derogation on the ban in those areas which are not served by recycling and ERF's.

Shipping waste to Europe particularly from more remote areas, involves multiple handling, road transport and storage and is increasingly, and rightly, recognised as an irresponsible solution for waste disposal. There is now a public awareness of the dangers of waste export, making headline news with the 'Blue Planet' and 'Drowning in Waste' and other documentaries, and highlighting a fact long known within the industry that not all waste exported is treated responsibly. Responsible waste handling/disposal aside, fossil fuelled shipment of waste overseas is costly both in terms of cash and carbon emissions and is simply unsustainable and environmentally damaging. We must recycle what we can and recover energy with what is left. But, what of the landfill ban and the stranded 1M tonnes in Scotland?

There are a number of options for this waste which excludes shipping it overseas for the above reasons:

  1. Ship the waste to England for landfill - can only be a temporary solution as England is likely soon to implement a legal ban. Furthermore, this will be a costly exercise adding at least £50/tonne to the cost of landfilling in Scotland today. The most striking result however will be the flight of landfill tax out of Scotland and into the English exchequer and this surely would be politically and economically unacceptable.
  2. Lift the ban on landfill - but this would be environmentally unacceptable and probably constitute political suicide on the part of the sitting Scottish Government
  3. Allow a managed derogation of the ban - in certain areas where there is no or insufficient recycling/ERF facilities. Derogated landfilling would be subject to close scrutiny by SEPA and subject to an additional landfill tax designed to accelerate the building of recycling and ERF's to replace landfill. In other words simply an acceleration and intensification of the drivers currently in place that have been largely, but not wholly successful.

Of the options suggested above, we believe that derogation of the landfill ban is now inevitable in certain areas. It keeps landfill tax in Scotland, avoids costly transport and breaking of the proximity principle and will increase and enhance the financial incentive for private enterprise and councils to build and operate recycling and energy recovery facilities. As soon as such facilities are in place then landfills in the catchment area can be immediately closed and the derogation for them removed.


Scottish Government Climate Change Bill - Revised Target for 2045

NEWS

Climate Change action

Published: 02 May 2019 00:01

Scotland will go greener, faster with world-leading targets.

Scotland will stop contributing to climate change within a generation under new, tougher climate change proposals.

Amendments to the Climate Change Bill have been lodged to set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest with Scotland becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

The existing targets proposed in the Bill were already world-leading. In response to calls from young people, scientists and businesses across the country, Scottish Ministers have adopted the advice of independent experts, the UK Climate Change Committee.

This means that in addition to the net-zero target for 2045, Scotland will reduce emissions by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 – the most ambitious statutory targets in the world for these years.

The Committee’s recommended targets for Scotland are contingent on the UK adopting a net-zero greenhouse gas emission target for 2050.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations. Having received independent, expert advice that even higher targets are now possible, and given the urgency required on this issue, I have acted immediately to set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for 2045 which will see Scotland become carbon neutral by 2040.

“I have been consistently clear that our targets must be ambitious, credible and responsible. We must take an evidence-based approach and balance our climate, economic and social responsibilities. We have already halved greenhouse gas emissions from Scotland while growing the economy, so we know we can do it. I am committed to meeting the most ambitious targets possible, and doing so while continuing to build an inclusive and fair economy.

“Every single one of us now needs to take more action – not just the Scottish Government but also all businesses, schools, communities, individuals and organisations. The UK Government must also act.

“The Committee on Climate Change say that Scotland’s ability to meet these world-leading targets is contingent on the UK Government also accepting their advice and using the relevant policy levers that remain reserved. As such, I call on the UK Government to follow our lead, accept the Committee’s advice, and work with us to achieve this goal.

“We can, and we must, end our contribution to climate change. I invite everyone to accept the advice we’ve received and work with us in a just and fair transition to a net-zero economy.”


Mass VPP rollout could save £32 billion worth of network upgrades, claims project consortium

Image: Moixa.

Image: Moixa.

Furthermore, the project holds the potential to cut domestic energy costs and slash emissions.

The Smart Local Energy System (SLES) project in Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea, first unveiled earlier this month, will establish a VPP aggregating domestic solar and battery storage, electric vehicle chargers, a marine source heat pump, a grid-scale battery and air source heat pumps.

The operational capacities and benefits of those technologies will be blended together using VPP software developed by battery storage firm Moixa under the three-year project aimed at showcasing its potential.

Moixa and other consortium partners on the project, including Flexitricity, PassivSystems, Connected Energy and Flexisolar, have claimed that not only could it cut energy costs by as much as 10%, but a nationwide rollout of the technology could offset infrastructure upgrades worth as much as £32 billion by 2035.

Chris Wright, chief technology officer at Moixa, said the project would showcase UK expertise in an emerging global smart grid market.

“This project will show how solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles at home and in the workplace can play a vital role in creating a smart, low-carbon, energy system, cutting energy bills, saving the country billions and helping to meet our climate targets.”

The first step of the project will see £7.2 million of its budget used to create a VPP with around 2MW of capacity, becoming the first in the UK to use both batteries from different manufacturers and electric vehicles.

Solar panels and batteries will be installed in 250 council homes in Worthing and Shoreham, coupled with 100 schools and council buildings, from Autumn this year to combine a further 4MW of generation and 4.2MWh of battery storage. Installations of strategically-placed EV chargers will follow from early next year.

The GridShare platform is to use machine learning and AI technologies to tailor their performance and maximise savings, which is expected to boost savings on home energy bills to around 40%.

More than 1MW of spare capacity from those installations will be aggregated using Moixa’s GridShare platform and entered into flexibility markets, before an additional 1MW of capacity is added as soon as electric vehicles are fully integrated.

Once all of the technologies are deployed, the VPP will boast 7.65MW of generation and 17MW of storage capacity, which will be aggregated and traded by Flexitricity, with Moixa also retaining the right to trade its own flexibility directly.

Steve Read, West Sussex County Council’s director of Energy, Waste and Environment, said: “The lessons we learn will help the government to plan ahead and adapt our national energy system to the fundamental changes taking place. These include the growth in renewable energy supply, increasing demand for energy from electric vehicles and other innovations, and the challenge of balancing energy supply and demand.”


Origami Energy scores hattrick of flexibility, energy trading pilot projects

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Origami Energy is to partner DNOs Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) and SP Energy Networks (SPEN) for three separate trials on flexibility and peer-to-peer trading.

Alongside the previously-announced Project LEO, Origami is also working with Scottish and Southern Energy Networks (SSEN) on project TRANSITION.

The project will focus on progressing the UK’s Smart Systems and Flexibility plan, testing market models for the trading of flexible network services and creating an interface to facilitate markets and release capacity.

This isn’t the first time Origami has worked with SSE, having partnered the utility's business supply unit for the launch of a virtual power plant in 2018.

A third project, FUSION, will be delivered by SPEN and Origami. The £6 million project is to explore commoditised local demand-side flexibility through a market based on the Universal Smart Energy Framework.

All three trials will use Origami’s technology platform to pilot new business models that allow energy trading, flexibility and aggregation.

The projects come as DNOs are looking to transition towards DSOs, with a more active role in managing local energy production and use. Investments and trials into flexibility are becoming increasingly common, with Western Power Distribution opening a tender window for flexibility last month, SSEN partnering with Piclo for its flexibility platform and UKPN pushing £12 million of funding into flexibility services.

Peter Bance, chief executive of Origami, said the technologies and competencies Origami is developing are “pivotal” to enabling “ground-breaking, real-world trials” that inform the future of local energy systems.

“Such energy systems, which balance local demand with local supply, are becoming globally relevant as grid operators around the world look to unlock the value of local network flexibility.

“Ultimately, the new generation of DSOs will be tasked with delivering a more reliable, available and affordable low-carbon energy supply. By developing our platform for local energy markets, we will ensure that everyone benefits from a smarter, more flexible energy system,” Bance added.


5 Major UK Businesses Powered by Renewable Energy

Electricity generation from renewable energy has been growing steadily (if not quickly) over the last 10 years. In fact, since 2009, it’s grown by across the United Kingdom and in Scotland, renewables beat all other sources including coal, oil, gas and nuclear to be the most used.

Of course, this is a step in the right direction as fossil fuels aren’t just depleting, they’re releasing greenhouse gasses that are harming our planet in devastating ways. (In case you haven’t heard, climate change is real).

Fortunately, businesses – which, by the way, consume a whopping 56% of the UK’s energy – are leading the way by going green using onshore and offshore wind, solar, hydro and bio energy to meet their electricity needs.

The Benefits of Going Green

While the main benefit of going green is a reduced carbon footprint, there are plenty of other incentives for businesses to clean up their act in terms of energy consumption.

To start, consumers prefer products made using renewable energy. It’s simple supply and demand.

According to a study conducted by analysts Kantar Millward Brown on behalf of Ørsted, 73% of UK consumers support businesses partly powered by renewable energy and 60% revealed a preference towards products with a green message on the label. It’s information like this – supported by the economic growth of sustainable products from companies like Ikea and Unilever – that drove global brewers Anheuser-Busch to place a renewable electricity label on all Budweisers brewed using 100% renewable energy.

But, for strategic business owners, it’s not just about using sustainability as a ploy for differentiation. There have to be financial incentives, too. Reduced operational costs are just one of those financial incentives.

With the cost of renewable energy decreasing 23% for onshore wind and 73% for solar since 2010, The International Renewable Energy Agency predicts that by 2020, these clean sources will be cheaper than fossil fuels. The UK government has also gotten involved to help drive costs down in order to increase uptake by creating schemes including Feed-In Tariffs and The Renewable Heat Incentive.

So, which UK businesses are leading the way towards a greener future?

Photo credit: Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

5 UK Businesses Powered by Renewable Energy

As a business owner, it can be difficult to make a leap into the unknown. Perhaps the best way to alleviate some of that apprehension is to lead by example.

Here are 5 UK businesses that are taking renewable energy seriously.

Sainsbury’s

Over the last several years, Sainsbury’s has revealed a number of initiatives in support of clean energy. Back in 2012, they partnered with UK energy company E.ON to deliver 100 MW of renewable energy to its stores. The goal? To reduce their absolute operational carbon emissions 20-30% by 2020.

Their commitment to sustainability persists as last year they announced that they’ll be deploying efficient, long-lasting LED lights in more than 450 stores. They’ve also invested in new aerofoil technology for in-store fridges.

Chase Distillery

While you may not have heard of Chase Distillery, you’re likely familiar with the founder’s other brand, Tyrells. And, where Tyrells might falling short in terms of sustainability when compared to competitors, Chase Distillery is leading the way. In fact, the distillery (specialising in gin and vodka) is on its way to being totally ‘off grid’.

How? Not how you’d expect…

Instead of using solar or wind energy, the drinks supplier is using the steam produced from putting the prunings of 200-year-old apple orchards in a boiler.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, has joined giants like Google and Microsoft as a member of the climate group RE100 which is committed to 100% renewable energy.

With a target of 25pc by 2020, the airport has already surpassed their goal as they became one of the first airports in the world to achieve 100pc carbon neutrality.

Scottish Power

After leaving carbon generation behind in 2018, Scottish Power is set to become the first major UK energy company to switch to completely clean energy. And, with all of its coal plants closed and the company’s final gas and hydro stations sold, they have no choice but to deliver on their promises.

So, what exactly have they promised? To double its clean energy sources and deliver cleaner and cheaper energy for Brits.

Virgin Group

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin have embraced renewable energy for years and it’s evident through the group’s investments.

Back in 2016, Virgin purchased the BMR Jamaican Wind Farm and more recently, they invested in M-Kopa, an off-grid solar company in Africa. Virgin has also made a point to set an example with its trains and aircrafts. Not only has Virgin Atlantic managed to cut carbon emissions by 20% over the last decade, Virgin Trains have pledged to reduce CO2 emission by 4% at each of their stations.

How Your Business Can Join The Revolution

With enough space you can become a net-provider to the energy grid by installing solar panels or wind turbines on your land, connecting the equipment with specific renewable energy cables to the wider grid.

Not enough room for that? Aim to be energy self-sufficient by installing panels or smaller scale installations on your building roof or in the car park, saving money on your annual energy bills in the process.

For those business owners who feel limited by space or lease terms, you can always switch to a green energy supplier at around the same cost as other, non-renewable suppliers. You can find a full list of green energy supplies in the UK here.

This post is supported by Eland Cables; image by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash


Despite good progress, 100 per cent low-carbon energy is still a long way off for the UK

The UK has made huge progress in decarbonising its energy mix, but the hard work has just begun, according to Durham University's Andrew Crossland and Jon Gluyas

In the past ten years the UK's electricity mix has changed dramatically. Coal's contribution has dropped from 40 per cent to six per cent. Wind, solar power and hydroelectric plants now generate more electricity than nuclear power stations, thanks to rapid growth. Demand for electricity has also fallen, reducing the country's dependence on fossil fuels. Thanks to these three factors, the carbon intensity of Britain's electricity has almost halved, from more than 500g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour in 2006 to less than 270g in 2018.

Progress has been so quick that a fully low-carbon power sector in Britain has transformed from a faint pipedream into a real possibility, according to the CEO of one of the UK's 'big six' energy companies. Indeed, the National Grid now expects to be able to operate a zero-carbon electricity system by 2025.

Already approaching that milestone on windy, sunny days, the country's first hours of 100 per cent low-carbon electricity could soon be here - but staying at 100 per cent throughout the year will be much more difficult to achieve. So what does the journey to decarbonisation look like?

Headwinds to decarbonisation

To paint the UK's energy future, it is important to first understand how electricity is generated today. The graph below is a visualisation of British electricity generation in October 2018. Periods of strong wind (in red) and sun (yellow) combined with nuclear power (green) meant that on some days, more than 75 per cent of electricity came from low-carbon sources. With solar prices still decreasing and the government recently agreeing a major deal for offshore wind to produce one-third of the UK's power by 2030, the country's first hours of low-carbon power could arrive within the next five years.

British electricity generation in October 2018 British electricity generation in October 2018 | Credit: Dr Andrew Crossland/MyGridGB

But the graph also highlights the other side to the UK's energy story. When the wind is weak and the skies dark, low-carbon sources provide less than 25 per cent of electricity generation. On average, low-carbon technologies accounted for more than 45 per cent of British electricity in 2018 - and almost half of that came from nuclear plants. Saying goodbye to fossil fuels quickly might mean accepting that the ever-controversial form of energy will play some role in the UK's electricity mix in the medium term.

Even with the aid of nuclear power, electricity consumption in Britain is set to increase dramatically in the coming decade. As electric cars continue their journey to the mainstream, traditional transport fuels will be replaced by electricity. The yearly energy demand of transport fuels is currently more than double the UK's national electricity consumption.

Similarly, plans to decarbonise the UK's heat generation - currently 66 per cent is generated by gas - by converting to electric heating systems will also place huge pressures on demand. During winter months, heat can consume more than three times the daily energy demands of electricity - and over a full annual cycle it constitutes 50 per cent of total energy demand. Collectively, these factors will move the goalposts for 100 per cent low-carbon electricity further and further away.

Powering through

While the huge efficiency increase of electric vehicles over internal combustion engines should cushion the impact of electric vehicles on the UK's energy future, the country will need to diversify its energy mix as much as possible to bring those goalposts back into sight. This means continued growth in wind, solar, hydro, biomass, energy efficiency and energy storage to carry the country through the calm, grey days. Precisely how much growth is needed depends exactly on the future of energy demand, but to give some perspective of scale, more than 80 per cent of the total UK energy supply, including electricity, land transport and heat, still comes from fossil fuels. The tens of billions of pounds already invested in low-carbon electricity is just the start of the UK's journey to decarbonised energy.

It also means seeking alternative, non-electric methods to replace fossil fuels in heat generation. Capturing waste heat from industrial processes, geothermal heat from the ground and heat extracted from water bodies could all limit demands on the electricity sector and make it easier to achieve more low-carbon heat and power. Southampton already heats much of its city centre geothermally - and many cities can and should follow suit. Recent work published by the BritGeothermal estimates that geothermal energy alone could meet the UK's heat demand for at least 100 years.

Concerted and sustained effort from both government and individuals is required if the UK is to achieve a low-carbon nirvana in heat, transport and power. State support of the renewables industry through ensuring long-term investment security and regulations to create energy-efficient and electricity-generating new homes will be essential in the UK's decarbonisation journey. The UK population will need to consume less energy individually, use energy more efficiently and use their voices and money to support renewable solutions. They will also need to elect representatives with a genuine ambition to decarbonise the country - rather than to commission new coal mines and fracking sites.

Large-scale changes are already in motion. Shell recently stated that it wants to become the world's largest electricity supplier and is among many oil giants investing heavily in renewables. While the need for new forms of energy presents big challenges for the UK it also offers a wealth of opportunities for the current generation to be part of an energy revolution. If the UK embraces the task, it could be joining Costa Rica, New Zealand and Norway as low-carbon powerhouses before the middle of the century. As one specialist at the start of his career and another nearing the end of his, we say bring that challenge on.

Dr Andrew Crossland is an associate fellow at Durham Energy Institute, where Professor Jon Gluyas is the executive director.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.