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Energy policy ‘reset’ amid rising green targets

Coal power will be phased out by 2025 as part of a major ‘reset’ to energy policy, while government advisors have set out ambitious economy-wide targets for reducing emissions beyond 2030.

Coal power will be phased out by 2025 as part of a major ‘reset’ to energy policy, while government advisors have set out ambitious economy-wide targets for reducing emissions beyond 2030.

In a speech outlining a “new direction” for UK energy policy, energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, announced that the UK’s remaining coal-fired power stations will be phased out completely by 2025 and replaced with new gas, nuclear and offshore wind capacity.

The move makes the UK the first major economy to set out a managed phase-out of coal power.

Smart meters that provide real-time feedback to help consumers work out where they are wasting energy will also be a key part of the UK’s ‘reset’ to energy policy, with every home and small business set to receive one by the end of 2020. 

Carbon targets

Meanwhile, the Government’s advisory body on climate change, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), has recommended that the UK set a target of reducing its emissions by 57 per cent below 1990 levels by 2028-32 as part of the country’s fifth carbon budget.

The carbon budgets are a series of legally-enshrined emissions targets, each lasting five years, designed to guide the UK towards its ultimate goal of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.

New policies

According to the CCC, the UK has made “good progress” to date, with emissions currently 36 per cent lower than 1990 levels and on track to be down by 43-46 per cent by 2020. However, to continue along this trajectory the Government will need to introduce a raft of new measures to increase the rate of emissions reductions from businesses and homes.

By 2030, for example, the majority of new cars and vans bought in the UK must be fully or partially electric, and heat pumps and heat networks from low carbon sources should provide heat for more than half of business demand. The country must also deliver zero waste to landfill by 2025 for most waste streams.

More regulation

Meanwhile, industry must reduce its carbon emissions by around two million tonnes a year during the 2020s and 2030s. This is likely to put more pressure on businesses to focus on improved energy management and process control, greater use of energy efficient plant and equipment and adoption of waste heat recovery technologies. 

Jonathan Grant, sustainability and climate change director a PwC, said that businesses “should expect and plan for more regulation on carbon emissions”.

The decarbonisation of electricity will also be crucial. The CCC estimates that 75 per cent of electricity generation must come from low carbon sources by 2030, including renewables, nuclear and fossil fuel plants fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

The Government now has until June 2016 to respond to the CCC’s recommendations before enshrining them in law.