The coalition government in the UK has implemented the largest, sweeping reforms to the energy sector in over twenty years. The good news is that the acknowledgment and prescient concern over the future is on the agenda, the bad news is that many are disappointed that renewable energy is taking a backseat to nuclear. As was reported in the Guardian newspaper recently, Charles Hendry, the minister of state for energy, said: “The market did a good job keeping down [energy] prices to the lowest in Europe, but it did not bring forward enough new investment. If we are going to keep the lights on in an affordable way, this is not a luxury – it’s absolutely essential.” True, but what do they propose? A fairly reasonable fixed price for carbon (higher than what is ostensibly market price) and an “emissions performance standard” stopping coal-fueled facilities from carrying on without proper carbon capture, it seems. The beef for environmentalists is the lack of investment on renewables. But, it appears a decent enough plan to provide higher prices to industry – in order to spur future investments in renewables and ensure no future shortages (this was perhaps the main impetus). The question, as is often the case with everything – where’s the money coming from? That’s a tough one to answer considering the nation’s current economic struggles.
A positive side note in this new-frontier CCS landscape is what’s happening in the country that creates the most carbon dioxide emissions – China. New news suggests that the world’s biggest polluters are turning a corner and planning to spend almost $30bn on emissions reduction, renewables and much more on wind and solar power. Even better, is the country’s proposed target of a whopping 45% cut in emissions by 2020. This is good news and something that is both a critical cause and urgent, particularly as the floundering Kyoto agreement expires in December this year.