UK needs ‘all-energy’ answer to decarbonising electricity generation, heating and transport

The ETI has just released a number of new documents from its Whole Energy Strategy Analysis programme and we will be showcasing the potential of this ‘all-energy’ system approach at its 10 Years of Innovation conference next month.

Jo Coleman
Jo Coleman

JO COLEMAN is Director of Strategy and Development at the Energy Technologies Institute, a public-private partnership which aims to:

  • Build supply chain capability
  • Create economic opportunities
  • Exploit UK technology knowledge and skills

by making targeted commercial investments in technology programmes across heat, power, transport and the infrastructure that links them.

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We at the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) believe that no single technology is the answer to decarbonisation and that an ‘all-energy’ system analysis is required to develop a complementary mix of key technologies to reduce emissions across multiple sectors.

By the mid-2020s, the UK must make important decisions about its energy infrastructure which will shape how we use power, heat our homes and fuel our cars in the future and should use a whole energy system approach to deliver on the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy developing a mix of low carbon technologies to meet future emissions reduction targets, says the ETI.

A whole energy system approach means developing a portfolio of options for clean energy in all its various uses (electricity, heating and transport), and crucially by fitting them together in the best combinations to deliver value for business and consumers.

We have to understand how the choices made in one form of energy affects what needs to happen elsewhere, for example decisions taken affecting electricity will impact what happens to heat and transport.

Through a decade of research the ETI has been able to demonstrate how a whole energy system approach will help sectors to better understand the impact and implications of activity across inter-connected energy systems.

The ETI welcomes last week’s publication of the Clean Growth Strategy and the clear commitment to cutting emissions that it signals. As we move into the next phase of clean energy development, we need a balanced portfolio of investment and publication of the strategy signals the needed investment in infrastructure which will take a generation to implement, so we should use this as the framework and make decisions fast and commit to making it happen.

For 10 years the ETI has been building capability in whole energy system modelling and analysis that can operate at international, national and local levels.

Ending in 2019, the ETI has secured the future of its Strategic Analysis Function by transferring the capability to the UK ‘energy catapults’ network.

The ESC is part of the government’s Catapult network and will focus on helping UK innovators to unlock value from the transition to a low-carbon energy system. As part of the transfer agreement the team will provide consultancy services as a project partner to the ETI as it completes its portfolio of energy innovation projects and analysis.

To effectively de-carbonise by 2050 and provide clean, affordable, secure energy, whole-systems analysis is needed to help innovators identify and unleash opportunities.

We are not talking about new revolutionary ideas, rather developing, commercialising and integrating the known but underdeveloped technologies.

The UK must look to renew and transform its energy infrastructure, but it’s important to do this efficiently so that consumer bills are kept at an affordable rate and ensure our industries remain competitive.

If policies are reliable and reward real emissions reductions, then the power of innovation can deliver the right mix of investment in low carbon energy infrastructure for the future.

The ETI believe that the next decade is vital in order to develop, prove and commercialise low carbon technologies, new commercial propositions, supply chains and business models, but the UK needs to act now.

The integration of new technologies and business models will also need to be demonstrated at scale to examine the impact on consumers. A ‘learn by doing’ approach will allow for testing the underlying value of an innovation and its potential role.

19 Oct 2017

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