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Committee On Climate Change Calls For More Investment In Low-Carbon Innovation - 20 July 2010  

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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 next decade.

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 technologies.

“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 with wind.”


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Source: E Gov Monitor