Nation must seize ‘golden opportunity’ on renewables

The UK’s first National Infrastructure Assessment has called on ministers to embrace renewable energy as a way of cutting carbon without costing consumers more.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) said that accelerating the shift towards low-carbon and renewable sources for both the UK’s power and heating – combined with a move towards electric vehicles – would mean the customer of 2050 would pay the same in real terms for their energy as today.
Sir John Armitt, Chair of the NIC, said that the UK Government needed to invest in low-cost renewable technologies – such as wind and solar – so that they provide at least half the country’s generating capacity by 2030.

He also called for a “ramping up” of efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and enable a rapid switch to electric vehicles.

A decade of progress

Armitt said: “Whether for cooking, lighting, keeping homes warm or electric cars on the road, where the UK’s energy comes from will need to change radically over the coming decades if the UK is to meet its legally-binding climate change targets.

“If we act now we have a golden opportunity to make our country greener, and protect the money in the pockets of consumers long into the future – something few of us expected to be able to do.
“Ministers can seize this chance by investing in renewables and other low-carbon technologies so they become the main players in our energy system – something that was considered a pipedream as little as a decade ago.

“But they need to act now to realise the full potential of what can be achieved.”

Industry welcomes assessment

James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “The NIC rightly highlights the need for the government to be bold in its ambition to decarbonise.

“Strong ministerial actions now would lead to the cheaper, cleaner and smarter energy system we need.
“We have seen incredible cost reductions in electricity in the last decade and providing new renewable energy auctions for the most established technologies will provide a cost-effective route to market for the cheapest generating technologies.”

> Read the National Infrastructure Assessment