‘There is no silver bullet for decarbonisation’

A new report says different methods will need to be employed in different regions

By Jonny Bairstow

Local energy planning rather than a single solution to be rolled out across the country is key to keeping the cost of decarbonisation low.

That’s the verdict from a new study, which suggests there is no one single approach to decarbonising the energy system which can be applied nationwide, as every local area requires a unique mix of technologies and strategies.

Experts at Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) suggest local areas need to take a leading role in the planning of their energy systems and infrastructure to meet decarbonisation targets at the lowest-possible cost.

Pilots conducted in Newcastle, Bridgend and Bury found that the decarbonisation of heat could be achieved for less than 15% above the cost of decarbonising electricity alone by adopting a holistic and integrated approach between sectors.

More than half of electricity is now low carbon, including renewable energy and nuclear power but just 4% of homes have clean heating.

The study blames limited joined-up planning across heat, power, gas and energy efficiency in buildings and says this needs to change if climate obligations are to be met.

A previous report put together by the organisation shows the best value-for-money ‘Whole Systems’ approach could keep the costs at around 1% of GDP in 2050, significantly cheaper than a more simplistic ‘blanket’ solution.

Richard Halsey, Innovation Business Leader at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “To meet the government’s national target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, we will need a radical transformation of our local energy systems.

“However, every local area is different. The state of homes and buildings, energy resources and networks and levels of ambition are unique to each area. A single solution imposed across the country is likely to cost more and produce less desirable outcomes for people, and businesses.”

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