What we need now is a global push towards a sustainable energy system, and a coordinated, cross-government approach to energy in the UK.

We will need a coherent, low carbon energy policy, not incentives for fracking and a very expensive nuclear power station.

This will involve reversing the reductions in ambition for sustainable energy production and use that have characterised Government policy in the last five years.

Major energy efficiency programmes and policies have historically underpinned the UK’s success in reducing emissions. These have been severely cut back in recent years, with less Government support for household energy efficiency, reduced incentives for business and a weakening of future building standards. And Brexit now threatens the European-wide standards that have been central to reducing emissions due to energy use in appliance and cars. A coherent package of goals, incentives and standards is required.

Globally, the costs of wind power have fallen by 30 per cent in the last 5 years and those of solar power by 60 per cent.

In the UK, and globally, renewable energy sources now offer the cheapest low-carbon energy. Their problems are being reduced by the declining costs of energy storage in batteries. Lack of clarity about future Government auctions for low carbon electricity is now the major issue for renewable energy, with investors now looking outside the UK. This poses risks to both UK energy security and industrial policy.  

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is clearly a major challenge for the energy sector. But it gives the UK an opportunity to be a world leader in a technical and social revolution. Now is the time for the Government to take that lead.

Reference: UK Energy Research Centre, Review of UK Energy Policy, November 2016.