Why We Shouldn’t Let Politics Distract from Further Low Carbon Growth

June 12, 2017

With Britain riding the highs and lows of the build up to, and aftermath of, the general election, it’s likely that many will have missed the numerous records being set this year by solar and renewable energy.

Solar PV generation in the UK has continued to break records in 2017, whilst also contributing to the promising record set by the collective mix of low-carbon generation including wind, hydro and biomass; at 1pm on Wednesday 7th June, over half (50.7%) of the UK’s total electricity demand was being met by low-carbon generation, and when nuclear was factored in, this figure was actually over 70%.

The extended periods of sunshine across the UK that day had solar PV systems generating at peak performance whilst the windy conditions not only helped PV panels operate at optimum temperatures, but also drive a surge in generation through wind turbines. The electricity generation from low carbon sources in the early afternoon was in the region of 18.7GW according to the National Grid.

The records set so far in 2017 show great promise for the UK’s future of running on low-carbon generation sources, however, the government’s lack of support and ambition for the industry is arguably one of the main barriers for exploiting its full potential. The recent general election result is also a further concern as a raft of political matters push renewables, and energy policy in general, down the agenda. This is only exacerbated by the appointment of Michael Gove, a climate change sceptic, to position of Environment Secretary.

Similarly, overseas in the US, there is large scale outrage and frustration at Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the recent COP21 Paris Agreement. Nevertheless, it’s pleasing to see the citizens and businesses in the USA rise against this decision, fully supported by local government, by taking action in to their own hands. Solar deployment specifically remains strong in the US as a result of a favourable incentive regime established under the Obama administration.

This attitude is exactly what is needed in the UK right now. Unfortunately, climate change does not stand still during periods of voting or political uncertainty, therefore irrespective of government strategy or support, UK businesses need to show initiative and lead the fight against climate change. Further installation of low-carbon and energy efficient technologies such as solar, battery storage and EV charging to will not only fulfil their corporate energy independence ambitions, but also give the UK a better, greener future.

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