Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Low carbon transition plan, and more

A busy day in policy land, with a suite of strategy documents and grand green plans emerging from Whitehall.

The big one is the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, detailing how the country can meet its binding target of cutting greenhouse emissions by 34% from 1990 levels by 2020 (or, more pertinently, by 18% from 2008 levels).

Key elements, many of which have been previously announced, include producing around 30% of electricity from renewables, overseen by a new government Office for Renewable Energy Deployment; investing £3.2bn in domestic energy efficiency, with smart meters in every home by 2020; major grid investment, with a smart grid 'policy road map' due next spring; and funding up to four CCS demonstration projects, overseen, inevitably, by a new Office of Carbon Capture and Storage.

For more, see the full white paper (pdf 3.8mb).

Plans for supporting business are set out in more detail in the final version of the UK Low Carbon Industrial Strategy (pdf 1.7mb), as announced in March.

I can't see a great deal of hard new information, but there's some details of the first allocations from the £405m low-carbon and green-manufacturing support announced in April's budget: up to £120m for offshore wind; £60m for wave and tidal; £15m to establish a Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre; an extra £10m for electric vehicle charging infrastructure; £6m for renewable construction materials; £12m for green chemicals; and an extra £4 for the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

There's also discussion of a lot of previously announced initiatives, including the UK Innovation Investment Fund intended to 'close the financing gap' for new technologies, including low-carbon tech; and proposals for overhauling the national grid.

Meanwhile, the renewable energy strategy (pdf 4mb) details how the UK might achieve 15% of energy from renewables by 2020, a seven-fold increase on today. As well as 30% of electricity, the plan is for 12% of heat (from biomass, biogas, solar thermal, etc) and 10% of transport energy (from electric vehicles and further rail electrification).

The Renewables Obligation, the main regime for promoting renewable electricity, will be extended (to 2037) and expanded for large-scale generation - although, among other tweaks, RO support will be limited to 20 years for individual projects. Smaller-scale projects will benefit from a Renewable Heat Incentive from 2011 and feed-in tariffs from 2010 for projects of up to 5MW. Details will depend on the ongoing consultation on renewable electricity financial incentives, which is open till October.

Finally, there's more from the Department for Transport on low carbon transport, including proposed criteria for the consumer incentives for electric and plug-in hybrid cars, expected to apply from 2011. For more, see the DfT carbon reduction strategy (pdf 1.5mb).

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