Tag Archives: Green Energy

End of coal in sight as UK secures ambitious commitments at COP26 summit

Given this week is COP26 and we are all keen to know more about “Green Energy” we have been looking at what the plans for the future are.

The UK has secured a 190-strong coalition of countries and organisations at COP26, with countries such as Poland, Vietnam, Egypt, Chile and Morocco announcing commitments to phase out coal power.

The end of coal – the single biggest contributor to climate change – is in sight thanks to the UK securing a 190-strong coalition of countries and organisations at COP26, with countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, Poland, Vietnam, and Chile announcing clear commitments to phase out coal power.

Today’s commitments, brought together through UK-led efforts including the new ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’, encompass developed and developing countries, major coal users and climate vulnerable countries. This includes 23 countries committing for the first time to phase out and not build or invest in new coal power, including Indonesia, South Korea, Poland, Vietnam, and Chile, marking a milestone moment at COP26 in the global clean energy transition.

This statement, launched today, commits nations across the world to:

  • end all investment in new coal power generation domestically and internationally
  • rapidly scale up deployment of clean power generation
  • phase out coal power in economies in the 2030s for major economies and 2040s for the rest of the world
  • make a just transition away from coal power in a way that benefits workers and communities

This is on top of China, Japan and Korea, the 3 largest public financiers of coal, committing to end overseas finance for coal generation by the end of 2021, announced in the last year during the UK’s incoming COP26 Presidency. Agreements at the G7, G20 and OECD to end public international coal finance send a strong signal that the world economy is shifting to renewables. This could end over 40GW of coal across 20 countries, equivalent to over half of the UK’s electricity generating capacity.

Business & Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

Today marks a milestone moment in our global efforts to tackle climate change as nations from all corners of the world unite in Glasgow to declare that coal has no part to play in our future power generation.

Spearheaded by the UK’s COP26 Presidency, today’s ambitious commitments made by our international partners demonstrate that the end of coal is in sight. The world is moving in the right direction, standing ready to seal coal’s fate and embrace the environmental and economic benefits of building a future that is powered by clean energy.

To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, the global transition to clean power needs to progress 4 to 6 times faster than at present. With coal being the single largest contributor to climate change, phasing it out and delivering a rapid, inclusive transition to clean energy is essential if we are to keep 1.5 degrees alive.

Twenty-eight new members have today signed up to the world’s largest alliance on phasing out coal, the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) launched and co-chaired by the UK. Chile, Singapore and Durban have today joined over 150 countries, sub-nationals and businesses, including finance partners NatWest, Lloyds Banking, HSBC and Export Development Canada. This accounts for over $17 trillion assets now committed to PPCA coal phase out goals.

There has also been a 76% cut in the number of new coal plants planned globally over the last 6 years which means the cancellation of 1000GW of new coal plants since the Paris Agreement, roughly equivalent to around 10 times the UK’s total peak generating capacity.

Today’s global agreement to move away from coal to clean power has been made possible thanks to a number of other UK-convened initiatives, including:

No new coal power

The end of new coal power construction is in sight. The launch of the No New Coal Power compact by 6 countries at the UN High Level Dialogue in September, followed by the commitments in the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement. This means that by the end of this year, all new public finance for unabated coal power plants will have stopped, with investments increasingly focused instead on accelerating the transition to clean energy sources such as wind and solar power, now cheaper than coal generation in most countries. This accelerates the growing global momentum to end new coal power, demonstrated by the 76% collapse in the global pipeline of proposed coal power plants since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Supporting emerging economies

In addition, major emerging economies have announced plans to accelerate a just transition from coal to clean power. This includes a South Africa Just Energy Transition Partnership worth $8.5 billion, as well as Indonesia and the Philippines agreeing a ground breaking new partnership with the Asian Development Bank to support the early retirement of existing coal plants. Further financing announcements are expected today at COP26.

Supporting coal-intensive economies

Countries with significant coal power generation and mining face large social and financial challenges in the transition from coal. The UK’s COP26 Energy Transition Council (ETC) mobilises and coordinates the assistance required to enable coal intensive economies to equitably transition from coal, bringing together 20 governments and over 15 international institutions to accelerate the transition from coal to clean power as part of a green economic recovery. For example, the Energy Transition Council’s Rapid Response Facility delivers fast-acting technical, regulatory and commercial assistance to countries and has already responded to 24 requests in a range of areas, including energy efficiency in the Philippines and grid management in Egypt.

Ensuring a just transition

Today the UK government has also launched a new International Just Transition Declaration, ensuring the move away from coal high carbon industries results in a sustainable, green and fair future, and one that creates high quality new jobs and champions local social dialogue in developing and emerging economies. Coordinated by the UK government, so far, 13 countries have signed as well as the UK and EU Commission, covering a broad spectrum of the world’s donor funding, now driving towards a just transition for communities around the world.

Clean Growth, Energy and Climate Change Minster Greg Hands said:

As the host of COP26 and through committing to phasing out coal by 2024 and the UK’s global leadership has sent a clear signal across the world that clean energy is the way forward.

By continuing to drive forward clean, green innovations at home and abroad, I look forward to stepping into this new chapter, united with the rest of the world in our efforts to consign coal to the history books, as we build back greener.

FCDO Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford said:

A just and inclusive transition to clean energy is a win-win for the UK and Africa. Phasing out coal is a central objective of the UK’s COP Presidency and will support a cleaner, greener future for British people while creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs across the developing world.

This new funding will transform the support on offer for African countries transitioning to renewable energy. The Africa Regional Climate and Nature Programme will support green electricity networks across Africa, benefitting more than 4 million people, and the Transforming Energy Access platform will see 25 million more people across the developing world access clean energy.

The UK is already delivering many of the most ambitious clean power commitments among the world’s largest economies, committing to phase out coal power completely by 2024, driving forward renewable power generation with a decarbonised power system by 2035, and demonstrating that tackling climate change does not need to be at the expense of a growing economy.

Between 1990 and 2019, the UK’s economy grew by 78% while carbon emissions fell by 44%, the fastest reduction in the G7 – coal power makes up less than 2% of power generation compared to 40% almost a decade ago. These achievements follow the publication of the UK’s landmark Net Zero Strategy last month, which outlines measures to support businesses and consumers to transition to clean energy, while supporting hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs and leveraging up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030. 

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, said:

Energy Day at COP 26 is an important milestone for building momentum on Sustainable Development Goal 7 and the just, equitable clean energy transitions it can support.

We are the architects of a sustainable future for all. Today I call on all governments to raise the level of ambition necessary to fill the financing gaps and to ensure an energy future that truly leaves no one behind.

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Canada and co-chair of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, said:

It is imperative that we phase out coal-fired electricity as a critical step to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5ºC and prevent the most severe impacts of climate change. In four years, the Powering Past Coal Alliance has united a diverse and growing number of highly ambitious members, all committed to a clean energy transition that will make coal a relic of the past.

Whether sharing solutions or providing financial support to developing countries to help them succeed, Alliance members are driving change through this global collaboration.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, said:

As one of the first countries to commit to ending coal power, the UK is leading the world in moving away from fossil fuels and it’s fantastic to see so many other countries making that commitment at COP26 in Glasgow.

Scotland has a massive part to play in the transition to clean, green energy. On offshore wind, for which Scotland has huge potential, our commitment is to quadruple capacity. Today’s news signals tremendous progress – we must continue to move forward.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said:

Before 2030 we need Just Transition plans in place in every country with decent and quality jobs at the heart. Workers and their unions are needed at the table through a genuine social dialogue process that ensures that transformative action moves our economies and societies to stabilise our climate and keep global warming under 1.5°C.

The union movement is keen to work with all the governments and institutions that sign this declaration to make this happen.

Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions and founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said:

Success in the fight against climate change depends on ending coal-fired power – the largest driver of carbon emissions and the target of a major new initiative that Bloomberg Philanthropies expanded this week at COP26. Together with our international partners, we welcome the work of more allies dedicated to moving beyond coal and accelerating the clean energy transition we urgently need.

Minister Schulze, German Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, said:

Phasing out coal is essential to reach our climate targets. In the near future, we will have left behind all fossil fuels and live in a new and sustainable energy world based on renewable energies. In order to get there, we need to actively shape the potential social impacts and support the affected regions in creating good sustainable new jobs. This means ensuring a just and inclusive transition together with all relevant stakeholders. Germany is willing to share its experiences with changing economic patterns and is thus supporting the Coal to Clean Statement and the Just Transition Declaration. Germany is underlining its commitment to further support the pathway towards a safe, sustainable and climate friendly energy future globally.

The French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said:

Striving to achieve universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and in line with the objectives of the Paris agreement is a priority for France. In 2020, the French Development Agency Group committed 1.5 billion euros in the energy sectors to support developing countries for energy transition planning, access to electricity, energy efficiency and renewable energies. The partnership announced between South Africa, France, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union is a testament that France stands ready to support a just transition which is socially inclusive and creates local economic opportunities.

A 2500 mile long cable could bring solar power from Morocco to UK

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project will be a new electricity generation facility entirely powered by solar and wind energy combined with a battery storage facility. Located in Morocco’s renewable energy rich region of Guelmim Oued Noun, it will cover an approximate area of 1,500km2 and will be connected exclusively to Great Britain via 3,800km HVDC sub-sea cables.

This “first of a kind” project will generate 10.5GW of zero carbon electricity from the sun and wind to deliver 3.6GW of reliable energy for an average of 20+ hours a day. This is enough to provide low-cost, clean power to over 7 million British homes by 2030. Once complete, the project will be capable of supplying 8 percent of Great Britain’s electricity needs.

Alongside the consistent output from its solar panels and wind turbines, an onsite 20GWh/5GW battery facility provide sufficient storage to reliably deliver each and every day, a dedicated, near-constant source of flexible and predictable clean energy for Britain, designed to complement the renewable energy already generated across the UK.

When domestic renewable energy generation in the United Kingdom drops due to low winds and short periods of sun, the project will harvest the benefits of long hours of sun in Morocco alongside the consistency of its convection Trade Winds, to provide a firm but flexible source of zero-carbon electricity.

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project will provide “renewable energy that acts like baseload power”.

Four cables, each 3,800km long form the twin 1.8GW HVDC subsea cable systems that will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location in Great Britain, passing Spain, Portugal, and France.

Agreement has been reached with National Grid for two 1.8GW connections at Alverdiscott in Devon. Voltage source convertor stations will enable the Xlinks project to secure high value balancing contracts with National Grid, and a HVDC Technical Feasibility study has been completed to validate reliability and cost.

The transmission system will use High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cables to send the power from Morocco to Britain. HVDC technology is now well tried and tested as reliable and more cost competitive for a large volume of electron transfer across longer distances, than the High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) technology typically used for transmission systems within countries.

Converter stations will be used to change the HVAC power at the generation site in Morocco to HVDC, which is then sent through the subsea cable with very low losses before another converter station in Britain changes the HVDC power back to HVAC, ready to be injected into the British transmission network. While the Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project subsea cable is significantly longer than existing interconnectors, the HVDC technology is the same proven technology used for connecting Britain and other European countries, or the technology proposed for the interconnector between Morocco and Portugal.

Millions more UK homes to be powered by renewables

Details of the next round of the Contracts for Difference scheme, which opens in 2021, have been set out today, Monday 2 March.

This latest round will be open to renewable technologies including onshore wind and solar, with proposals to include floating offshore wind. The scheme will also be changed to facilitate the deployment of energy storage.

Local communities will have a more effective voice on developments that impact them, through proposals for tough new guidance on community engagement for developers of onshore wind across Great Britain, also announced today. They will have a definitive say on whether projects are allowed to proceed. It will remain the case that no English onshore wind project can proceed without the consent of the local community.

The Committee on Climate Change have said that we need to quadruple renewable energy generation in the UK to reach net zero by 2050, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction.

Secretary of State for Business and Energy Alok Sharma said:

Ending our contribution to climate change means making the UK a world leader in renewable energy.

We are determined to do that in a way that works for everyone, listening to local communities and giving them an effective voice in decisions that affect them.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive Hugh McNeal said:

The government is pressing ahead with action to meet our net zero emissions target quickly and at lowest cost to consumers and businesses. Backing cheap renewables is a clear example of the practical action to tackle climate change that the public is demanding, and this will speed up the transition to a net zero economy.

Today’s consultation outlines proposals to ensure the Contracts for Difference scheme can support the increased ambition required, including:

  • making the UK a world-leader in new technologies such as floating offshore wind, which would allow wind farms to be built further away from the shore and increase clean energy capacity
  • supporting our renewables supply chain to enhance productivity and increase competitiveness, boosting the UK’s world-class clean energy industry
  • improving the scheme to better support energy storage, so projects can provide power when the wind stops blowing or the sun is not shining

This is part of the Year of Climate Action, a defining year for our country and our planet, in the run up to the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November.

Clean energy to power over seven million homes by 2025 at record low prices

Twelve new renewable energy projects have won Contracts for Difference – enough to power over seven million homes at record low costs.

  • Around 6GW of clean energy is to be added to the grid by 2025 – an important step towards decarbonising our energy system and reaching net zero emissions by 2050
  • Results show the UK’s leadership in offshore wind, creating up to 8,000 jobs across the UK and economic opportunities as we leave the European Union

Twelve new renewable energy projects will be powering over seven million homes at record low prices thanks to the latest round of the government’s flagship Contracts for Difference scheme.

The new projects will provide around 6GW of capacity – 2.4GW more than the last round. For the first time renewables are expected to come online below market prices and without additional subsidy on bills, meaning a better deal for consumers. The costs of offshore wind are now around 30% lower than the second auction held in 2017, with projects now being delivered for as low as £39.65/MWh.

The new projects and lower prices are another step toward decarbonising our energy system as we work toward net zero emissions by 2050, creating jobs and economic opportunities across the UK. According to research by RenewableUK, the new projects could see 8,000 jobs created.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The UK is leading the way in the fight against climate change, and it’s great news that millions more homes will be powered by clean energy at record low prices.

Seizing the opportunities of clean energy not only helps to protect our planet, but will also back businesses and boost jobs across the UK.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:

Offshore wind is a British success story, with new projects at record low prices creating new opportunities for jobs and economic growth as we leave the EU.

The support we’re announcing today will mean that over 7 million more homes will be powered by renewable energy as we decarbonise our energy system – crucial as we continue on the road to net zero emissions by 2050.

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is the government’s primary method of supporting low-carbon electricity. It encourages investment in renewables by providing projects with a stable income while protecting consumers from paying increased support costs when electricity prices are high.

Renewables projects across the UK have been awarded CfDs – from Birmingham to Orkney. Successful technology types include:

  • Offshore wind – wind projects off the UK coast delivering up to a third of our electricity coming from the technology by 2030;
  • Advanced Conversion Technologies – converting waste which would otherwise go to landfill into energy;
  • Remote Island Wind – wind projects on the remote islands of the UK which can take advantage of strong winds.

Today’s results are the latest stage of the government’s support for renewable energy. In March 2019 we signed a ground-breaking £250 million sector deal with the offshore wind industry which committed us to maximising opportunities and sourcing up to a third of electricity from offshore wind by 2030.

Read the results: Contracts for Difference (CfD) allocation round 3

The UK has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, with around 8GW installed at the end of 2018. This is expected to rise to 10GW by next year, and even further as more projects start contributing power to the grid into the 2020s.

In June the government committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and ending the UK’s contribution to global warming altogether. The UK has already made a strong start in decarbonising its energy system, with renewables generating a record 33% of the country’s electricity last year.

It has been estimated that the low carbon economy in the UK could grow four times faster than rest of the economy out to 2030 and could deliver between £60 billion and £170 billion in exports by 2030. Today’s results demonstrate the potential of renewables to create such ‘green-collar’ jobs.

HS2 could provide green energy to hundreds of new homes

In an innovative first, engineers developing the HS2 super-hub at Old Oak Common in north west London are proposing plans to tap heat from the brakes and engines of high speed trains to heat water and power central heating of up to 500 new homes that could be built nearby.

The scheme would see 5 air source heat pumps draw warm air from the railway’s tunnels, where the waste heat from trains is usually extracted by traditional ventilation systems and seeps into the ground surrounding the tunnels.

Instead HS2 Ltd’s plans would see waste heat fed into a local District Heating System. The new HS2 station at Old Oak Common is set to be the UK’s best connected rail interchange, with an estimated 250,000 people passing through every day. It will help kick-start the UK’s largest regeneration project, which aims to transform the former railway and industrial area, into a new neighbourhood supporting up to 65,000 jobs and 25,500 new homes*.

HS2 innovation manager, Pablo García, said:

HS2 is so much more than a railway. By taking a long term view of how the benefits of investing in the new high speed railway can be shared, we’re investigating how to provide sustainable, low-carbon heating and hot water to up to 500 new homes.

Near Old Oak Common we’re building a crossover box. This is an underground hall that houses a points junction to enable trains to arrive and depart from any of the station’s platforms.

Our plans would see warm air pushed into the crossover box by trains, in effect acting like pistons. It then rises to be harnessed by air source heat pumps, converted into hot water and transported to homes by insulated pipes.

Aerial view of Old Oak Common

Old Oak Common’s crossover box is capable of supporting waste heat recovery technology.

Based on current energy price forecasts, HS2 estimates that the investment in waste heat recycling system would pay for itself after just 4 years.

Compared to gas boilers being used in the homes, recycling heat generated by trains’ engines and brakes could reduce the carbon footprint of 500 houses by more than a fifth (22%).

Plans are at an early stage but the technology is proven. As the project progresses HS2 Ltd will work with local partners to make this aspiration a reality.

Pablo explained how Old Oak Common’s crossover box is the only place on HS2’s first section between London and the West Midlands capable of supporting waste heat recovery technology, but there may be further opportunities on the high speed network’s Leeds and Manchester routes.

Our study focused on possible Phase One opportunities because its designs are most advanced. Designs for the second phase of the railway are at an earlier stage, and we hope to look at whether waste heat recovery technology could be deployed there too.

Currently more than 1,000 people are at work on HS2 across London, clearing the way for the start of construction.

At Euston and the future HS2 terminus at Curzon Street in Birmingham demolitions are well underway alongside the project’s pioneering archaeology programme. Meanwhile clearance of the Washwood Heath site, the Birmingham location of the project’s future network control centre and rolling stock depot, is also in full swing.

In total more than 7,000 jobs are currently supported by the HS2 project, both directly and in the UK-wide supply chain.