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Last edited 28 Jan 2020
Achieving zero carbon
December 2019’s general election not only delivered a big-majority Conservative government and confirmed full steam ahead for Brexit, it also answered the question of which manifesto for a ‘zero carbon Britain’ we need to take notice of.
How the Conservative’s climate change manifesto rolls out in practice will soon be tested by new energy and environmental Bills and the imminent March Budget, but the broad commitments to ‘fight climate change’ and achieve a ‘net zero carbon’ UK economy by 2050 are there.
Remarkably, while the Conservative manifesto could have been confused with a love letter to offshore wind power – some 40GW of relatively low-cost wind capacity is anticipated by the end of this decade – it had nothing to say about onshore wind, which is an even cheaper source of low- to no-carbon energy. Nor was there any mention of developing our enormous potential for tidal power, even though projects around Wales in particular could contribute massively to decarbonising the UK energy network and help electric heating to elbow domestic and commercial fossil-fuelled heat aside.
However, looking elsewhere in the manifesto, we see welcome commitments to further boost the UK EV charging network, to reduce carbon emissions and help to improve urban air quality, and to spend billions on domestic and public-sector energy efficiency. Beyond this, the manifesto starts to become more fanciful, with references to floating wind farms (interesting) a UK battery ‘Gigafactory’ (noting Tesla decided its own Gigafactory will be in Berlin) and additional fusion energy research (fingers crossed).
ECA’s assessment of current low- to no-carbon opportunities counts around 15 types of electrotechnical technology, including industry front runners such as lighting and EV charging. We will be actively discussing all these technologies, and the skills needed to deliver them at scale, with government and other key stakeholders in 2020 and beyond.
And that 2050 Government ‘net-zero carbon’ target? Some might say 2050 is booting the ball well into somebody else’s long grass. Our conversations with government and other key stakeholders will look for action over a much shorter timescale than the next 30 years. And so finally, a call to action: if any company, from across our industry, is able to share low-carbon energy solutions that have been installed and are already delivering significant carbon reductions, the ECA would be very pleased to hear from them at: [email protected]
Let us see what we can do to get zero carbon done.
 About this article
This article was written by Paul Reeve, Director of CSR at the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA). It previously appeared on the ECA website in January 2020 under the title ‘What can we do to get Zero Carbon done’? It can be accessed HERE.
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