Call for urgent boost to offshore wind and carbon capture and storage to meet net-zero target

The UK has been warned it needs to implement a four-fold increase in low-carbon energy, including significant expansion of offshore wind capacity, in order to reach its net-zero emissions target for 2050.

The key finding is from Atkins Global’s Engineering Net Zero report, which highlights the capacity and policy barriers that the UK needs to overcome to reach its legally binding net-zero target for 2050, noting a severe capacity gap in carbon capture and storage, nuclear, wind and hydrogen energy generation, all of which have been outlined as essential by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

The report says the technologies will be required to assist or balance the four-fold increase in low-carbon energy generation required by 2050. The report states that the 155TWh of clean energy in 2017 will need to reach 645TWh by 2050. An additional 75GW in offshore wind capacity is recommended but the report warns that policy plans to limit nuclear capacity in the mid-2030s will hinder the net-zero target.

Chris Ball, managing director for nuclear and power at Atkins, said: “The green future we aspire to is possible. However, it requires a sea change in how we approach our energy system and the scale of investment required. Government has set the target and working in collaboration with industry and academia we can meet the ambition. But it requires an unprecedented level of commitment, investment and co-ordination to drive forward a programme of works.

“The concern for the UK is that years of only short-term political ambitions have blocked some urgent investments and actions needed to drive forward Net Zero solutions. As we look to 2020, and the UK’s new government takes shape, we need tangible investment in testing engineering solutions to our most pressing challenges.”

The report also calls on the Government to create a net-zero “champion” or department to oversee the net-zero target and its delivery and says investment into engineering solutions are required across all areas of low-carbon energy production, especially for carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is needed to capture, transport and store up to 176 metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050. The report states that the UK’s current capacity for CCS is “negligible” and needs urgent attention.

The UK will need to build 9-12GW of energy generation capacity annually to reach the net-zero target, according to the report – higher than any output recorded in the UK in the previous 50 years.

According to the report, the 2050 energy mix is predicted to comprise 58% intermittent renewables, 22% Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) & CCS, 11% nuclear, 6% bioenergy with CCS, and 3% ‘other’, adding that hydrogen could serve as a valuable energy source and store. It states that up to 30% of the UK’s energy will need to be delivered through hydrogen, with 80% of that share having to be produced by methane reformation (MR) which depends on CCS.

The Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) has launched the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) to support more than 650 businesses boost the value and growth of the offshore sector.

The OWGP acts as part of the recent Sector Deal, agreed between industry and the Government, which will see at least 30GW of offshore wind installed in the UK by 2030 – generating a third of the UK’s electricity and increasing UK business contributions to the nation’s offshore content from 48% to 60%.

* In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 goals for a better world by 2030. https://www.globalgoals.org/ These goals have the power to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. Guided by the goals, it is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone. Syntegra’s work is underpinned by many of the goals.

Global Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Renewable energy solutions are becoming cheaper, more reliable and more efficient every day.Our current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable and harmful to the planet, which is why we have to change the way we produce and consume energy. Implementing these new energy solutions as fast as possible is essential to counter climate change, one of the biggest threats to our own survival.

Target 7.2:

INCREASE GLOBAL PERCENTAGE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.