Same level of ambition needed for solar and battery storage as for wind, STA insists

Government has revealed plans for a “comprehensive” net-zero strategy in the lead up to COP26

Same level of ambition needed for solar and battery storage as for wind, STA insists

The government must show the “same level of ambition” for solar and battery storage as it has for wind in its net-zero strategy, the chief executive of the Solar Trade Association has warned.

Commenting on the government’s response to the Committee on Climate Change’s 2020 Progress Report to Parliament, Chris Hewett said: “The government has taken constructive steps on what will undoubtedly be a long road and the announcement of a comprehensive Net Zero Strategy is welcome.”

However, he added that “Britain needs to triple its solar capacity in the next decade” to get on track for net-zero.

During his leader’s speech at the virtual Conservative Party conference earlier this month, Prime minister Boris Johnson set out new plans to make the UK the “world leader” in wind energy, as part of its ambition to “build back greener” following the Covid-19 crisis.

He said the government will make £160 million available to upgrade ports and infrastructure across communities in places such as Teesside and Humber in Northern England, Scotland and Wales to hugely increase offshore wind capacity.

In its response to the CCC report, the government reinforced this commitment, adding that the price of offshore wind energy has fallen by two-thirds between 2015 and 2019 and UK offshore wind capacity is now the largest in the world.

It pointed out that, from April to June this year we went 67 days without using coal for our power generation and we can say with confidence that the UK will meet its ambition to phase out coal power by 2024.

However, the report makes scant reference to the importance of solar power, and barely mentions battery storage – both equally important technologies for decarbonisation, according to the STA.

The Association pointed out that solar was recently dubbed the new “king of electricity” by the International Energy Association, and by the government’s own assessment is forecast to be the cheapest form of electricity generation in Britain over the coming years.

It also remains the UK’s most popular energy technology, providing affordable power and a wealth of jobs across the country. The CCC estimates that at least 54GW will be required by 2035 to be on track for a net-zero economy, which aligns with the STA’s target of 40GW by 2030.

Average road fuel sales at sampled filling stations, Great Britain

Source: BEIS Energy Trends 2020

The government’s response to the CCC report also references the environmental impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first seven weeks of lockdown, it stated, average daily road fuel sales were 39% of their typical level in the eight weeks prior to lockdown, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality.

However, as pointed out by the CCC, the changes that drove this are likely to be short lived, and we are already seeing road fuel sales moving back toward their pre-lockdown levels.

The government said the year ahead is “critical” for global progress on climate change, and a “major test of global cooperation” after Covid-19.

“We agree that it will be crucial for the UK to demonstrate strong climate leadership, and we are pleased that the CCC acknowledges the progress in UK emissions reductions in this context,” the document stated.

“The UK will take on the G7 Presidency next year and will make climate ambition a core priority, in line with our broader international efforts ahead of COP26 [in November 2021]. Next year provides a unique opportunity to promote climate ambition internationally by aligning our G7 Presidency with our COP26 Presidency in partnership with Italy, and Italy’s own G20 Presidency.”

The government pledged to create a roadmap for global climate action between now and COP26. “As COP26 Presidency, we will take the lead in supporting a green, inclusive and resilient recovery building on the principles of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals,”

“We continue to press for much greater ambition around the world – more ambition to reduce emissions, more ambition to build resilience, and more ambition to cooperate and support each other.”


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