Clean Energy Can Make Britain Energy Independent | Nature | New
Partial solar eclipse seen in a cloudy sky over the UK
He said that by embracing renewables on a large scale, the country could end its Â£ 1billion-a-week dependence on fossil fuels. As G7 leaders meet in Cornwall with climate change on the agenda, Mr Vince, founder of green energy company Ecotricity, said: ‘We spend Â£ 50bn a year to bring of fossil fuels in Britain just to be able to burn them. âBut the price of oil could easily fluctuate up to Â£ 3 billion a week. âWe can break free from this crazy market that dictates so much and in doing so create hundreds of thousands of sustainable jobs in new industries. “
Britain is committed to being Net Zero by 2050, with all greenhouse gas emissions eliminated or offset.
Boris Johnson has pledged to quadruple the energy of offshore wind farms by 2030, when all new cars will need to be powered by electricity.
The scenarios devised by the government’s expert advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), will massively reduce the use of oil and gas, but not their complete removal from the national energy mix.
Mike Thompson, Chief Economist at CCC, said: âDramatically reduced oil and gas use is definitely good for the economy because it exposes you to much less volatility. “
Industry body RenewableUK believes the country could become a regular exporter. Barnaby Wharton, its director of future power systems, said: âEnergy independence is achievable. We have some of the best wind resources in Europe, if not the world. “
He added: “There will be days when we produce a lot of wind power and if we don’t need it we can export it to Europe, and when the wind is weaker we can import it. . We will no longer depend on Russia and the Middle East for oil and gas. “
It is planned to increase the number and capacity of interconnections between the UK and Europe from 4 GW today to 17 GW.
Wind farms could produce more energy by 2030
By allowing electricity to flow between power grids, they would provide access, among other sources, to carbon-free hydropower from Norwegian lakes.
Currently, the government does not have a target for solar energy.
But Jack Dobson-Smith of Solar Energy UK said Renew-ableUK wanted the government to commit to producing 40 GW of solar power by 2030, up from 14 GW today.
The current total includes panels on one million homes as well as large-scale solar parks.
He claimed that solar power coupled with batteries could help solve one of the big problems facing the energy industry – sudden power surges when the nation takes a break from a major event.
He said: âWhen everyone gets up at half-time in a cup final and puts the kettle on, you get a massive increase in demand.
“If you have 4.4 million homes with solar panels and batteries, that would provide enough power for the grid and avoid these really sharp peaks.”
The CCC says the UK needs to invest around Â£ 50bn per year to go green – the country’s current total annual investment in all sectors of the economy is Â£ 400bn.
But he argues the UK would get a comeback soon because energy costs start to drop.
However, Professor Ian Fells, who is working with the Japanese to develop small, high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors, warned that relying exclusively on renewables would not work.
There is no target for solar energy
He said: âWe obviously need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The less we depend on them, the better.
âBut we don’t stand a chance of reaching net zero without a lot of nuclear power.
âRenewable energies, although they play a valuable role, are not always available when you want them because the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine.
âIf we were to use batteries to store excess renewable energy, they would have to be huge and very expensive. “
Comment from Dale Vince
Tackling the climate crisis is generally presented from a moral perspective: our obligation to watch over the planet, to think of future generations – even polar bears.
It is a selfless act, something we do for others more than for ourselves.
I think it’s wrong not only to present it that way, but to see it that way.
Today in Britain we spend Â£ 50 billion annually importing fossil fuels just to burn them. That’s Â£ 1 billion a week.
Dale Vince condemns UK spending on fossil fuels of Â£ 50bn
That’s three times the sum of Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus side – but actually real.
We spend this money in the global oil and gas markets, where the price is openly manipulated by cartels.
We don’t have a say. We are price takers, not price makers.
In recent years the price of oil has been three times what it is today – that Â£ 50 billion can easily become Â£ 150 billion.
It’s an incredible amount of money that leaves our economy every week and we experience the most incredible economic volatility.
It weakens us. It keeps us poor and makes us guess.
It doesn’t have to be like that. We have enough energy here in Britain. We can power our whole country, many times over, thanks to the wind, the sun and the sea.
If for just a year or two we spend that Â£ 50 billion harnessing our own renewable energy, we can close this massive hole in our economy and end our exposure to international oil and currency markets.
We could make our economy strong and independent. In doing so, we will create hundreds of thousands of sustainable jobs and clean the air we breathe. The fight against the climate crisis is just the icing on the cake.
Energy independence is not just for Britain, or just for the wealthiest G7 nations that meet this week in Cornwall.
It is available for all nations of the world. Wind and sun are everywhere, not concentrated in a few geographic locations like oil and gas. They cannot be controlled by cartels and international markets.
Renewable energies are a massive democratizing force for the world.
The Industrial Revolution began in Britain, powered by fossil fuels.
It is fitting that we are leading the next – the green industrial revolution, powered by wind and sun.
â¢ Dale Vince is an eco-entrepreneur