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|In its latest report, the Committee on
Climate Change called for more investments in low carbon
technologies to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 while supporting
sustainable economic growth in the longer term.
The committee urged for more government support for low carbon
technologies. It warned without funding support from the government
the new innovations are most likely to see developments curtailed
and failure to develop commercial applications. This new report
comes at a time when the DECC has drastically cut funding for low
carbon technologies last week.
The UK’s spend on energy Research,
Development and Demonstration (RD&D) as a % of GDP lags behind other
developed countries. This situation is even more worrying in the
context of global investment in technology development that is low
relative to benchmarks proposed by the Stern Review, the
International Energy Agency, and the EU. The Committee conclude that
any reduction in current funding levels (£550m per year) would
increase the risk of missing carbon budgets and would see the UK
losing out on critical opportunities to build a green economy. Once
financial pressures have eased, increased funding will be required
in specific cases (such as marine technologies and electric
vehicles), and for low-carbon innovation more generally, over the
The Committee recommends that the UK should focus on the development
and deployment of at least 6 technologies:
1. Offshore wind – likely to be the least cost path for
decarbonising the power sector and meeting the UK’s 2020 15%
renewable energy target. The UK requires 13GW of offshore wind
capacity to be developed, requiring up to £50 million per annum in
funding for Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D).
2. Marine (wave and tidal) – the UK has the potential to be a world
leader in this area and has significant natural resources, estimated
at 65GW per year. UK-based companies have world-leading expertise in
marine engineering and design.
3. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – technology to remove carbon
from coal and gas power generation will be crucial to meeting the
target. The UK is strong on subsurface evaluation and geotechnical
engineering because of the North Sea oil and gas developments.
4. Smart grids and meters – the UK has research expertise and
industrial capabilities in key smart grid technologies including
electrical machinery, power electronics and communications.
5. Electric vehicles – the UK has the expertise to design and build
electric cars. Funding needs to be protected for the purchase of
electric cars (£230m) and to support the development of a national
battery charging network (£30m). Investment of up to £800 million
will be required to meet the CCC’s target to have 1.7 million
electric cars on the road by 2020.
6. Aviation – UK-based companies are globally competitive in design
and manufacture of advanced wings and aeroengines. Public support
for radical technologies (e.g. blended wing) will be necessary to
achieve UK targets.
The UK should also deploy nuclear power, advanced insulation
technologies, CCS for industry, and heat pumps. The UK should invest
in research and development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles,
technologies in agriculture and industry, 3rd generation solar PV
technologies, electricity storage and advanced bio-fuels
“As well as innovation happening because of R&D funding, it can also
occur during the deployment phase of a technology, provided policy
incentives are well-designed," said Gaynor Hartnell Chief Executive
of the Renewable Energy Association.
"When it comes to wave and tidal technologies, we think the
Committee’s emphasis is a little too much on “technology push” -
meaning R&D - rather than the “market pull”. Our world-leading
innovators as well as those that want to build projects using their
devices, desperately need an effective financial incentive so that
marine renewables can move into the deployment phase,” she added
Martin Wright, Chief Executive of Marine Current Turbines said
“There is no way the public sector can pay for the next stage of
development, it has to be private investment. It is very simple, if
there is no market, there will be no investment and no innovation.
The sooner Government realises this the more chance it has of
meeting its targets. The longer it waits, the greater the risk that
UK plc will miss out on this fantastic opportunity just as it did