UK energy analyst Cornwall Insight has warned that “urgent policy direction is needed” in the UK with regards to energy policy – particularly with regards to nuclear power – in order to meet the UK’s climate targets. In new analysis, published on Wednesday, Cornwall Insight said it was a “real possibility” that the UK could meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets from the latter part of the next decade without commissioning any new nuclear power capacity. And, it said these upcoming climate targets could be met at a lower cost compared to developing a new fleet of reactors, calling into question whether building new nuclear generation is a necessary step in the UK’s decarbonisation plans. Ben Hall, head of new business at Cornwall Insight, said its latest forecast marked a “notable shift away from previous thinking” that new nuclear would be needed to meet climate targets in the UK. Wind and solar are increasingly competitive on costs and could well negate the need for new nuclear capacity, he argued. Hall also raised questions about the need for other traditional baseload forms of electricity, suggesting some of the scenarios in his analysis showed minimal need for additional gas power plants, with any new capacity likely only needed to replace older units in future. However, Hall warned that despite the falling costs of solar, onshore wind, offshore wind and other renewables technologies, green energy deployment “may still need some form of support above and beyond power markets” in order to scale up in line with UK carbon budgets. It comes ahead of the government’s launch of the latest CfD auction next week to support renewables projects totalling up to 6GW. Bidding will be open to less established technologies such as offshore wind, biomass, anaerobic digestion, geothermal, tidal and wave power, although offshore wind is expected to win the lion’s share of contracts. The government is also working on plans to enable households and small businesses can sell any excess renewable power they generate to the grid through a Smart Export Guarantee Mechanism – replacement for the Export Tariff scrapped earlier this year. BEIS said it hoped the new market-led mechanism “will encourage more households to become renewable electricity generators”.
Business Green 21st May 2019 read more »