The International Energy Agency recently released its latest in-depth review of the UK’s energy policies, welcoming reforms that aim to promote decarbonisation and innovation in clean energy technologies.
The review specifically highlights the UK government’s track record in climate action, both at home and globally.
“The United Kingdom has shown real results in terms of boosting investment in renewables, reducing emissions and maintaining energy security,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.
Birol added: “It now faces the challenge of continuing its transition while ensuring the resilience of its energy system.”
In 2017, energy-related CO2 emissions in the UK reached the lowest levels since 1888.
The report finds that this rapid reduction was achieved in part through significant renewable investment following the UK’s Electricity Market Reform (EMR).
By 2030, the UK is forecast to see its share of variable renewables pass 50%. Amid this rapid change to a power system with a high share of wind and solar, market rules will need to accommodate flexibility, including interconnections, storage and demand response to maintain electricity security.
“This report highlights our reputation as a world leader in the global shift to greener, cleaner economies, cutting emissions by more than 40% since 1990 while growing our economy,” said Chris Skidmore, the UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister.
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Legislation for net-zero emissions
Skidmore continued: “We can be proud of dramatically decarbonising our energy system thanks to record levels of investment in renewables, while security of supply has never been in doubt. But we’re not complacent and we’re now on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions to end our contribution to global warming entirely.”
The IEA review finds that outside of the UK power sector, there is still significant potential for improvements.
Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change will require the scaling up of clean energy investment in the transport and heat sectors, a major focus of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.
According to the report, action in these sectors will require a broad mix of solutions including technology innovation and electrification, stimulated by fiscal policies and energy efficiency that can help offset higher power costs.
Finally, streamlining regulation in electricity wholesale and retail markets will be critical to ensure more effective and competitive markets, the report noted.
This will support electrification for the longer-term decarbonisation of the economy by 2050.
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