Holistic renewables investment is key to achieving net zero Investing in assets that support the transition to a low-carbon, more efficient energy system can help the UK achieve net zero
Jonathan Hicks Triple Point
I f the UK is to realise its commitment to achieving net zero by 2050 and limit damaging increases in global temperatures, we need to drastically increase investment across the whole of the UK energy system as part of decarbonisation and the energy transition. According to the UK’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, this country emitted 405.5 million tonnes of CO₂ in 2020, some of the latest figures available. Though considerably lower than where we were in 1990, our need for energy is increasing, with the expected demand for electricity to triple by 2050. Balanced investment across the whole energy system is needed. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent roadmap for the global energy sector concluded that reaching net zero by 2050 hinged on an unprecedented push towards clean technologies by 2030, which requires an “immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies.” But investment and development cannot be siloed, just focused on specific parts of the system. Taking a holistic approach We believe that the transition to net zero requires a holistic approach with a move away from centralised generation to decentralised, low-carbon production located as close as possible to centres of demand. It must have adequate and efficient distribution and storage. And efficiency of consumption and on-site use must be considered, whether in an industrial, commercial, or residential setting, to reduce overall demand.
Supporting net zero requires whole-scale decarbonisation of the energy system, starting with energy production. Hydroelectric generation, of which Triple Point Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Company’s (TEEC) portfolio includes nine assets across the Scottish Highlands, produces a 100% renewable, low- carbon energy source far more efficient than its fossil fuel forebears. Greater proximity to both the source of energy and point of grid connection reduces waste, while the inputs required to access water power are nil, as no other energy is needed to access it. We estimate that 3,578 tCO₂ has been abated to 31 March 2022 since the acquisition of these assets. It will also require energy storage and distribution to balance increasingly volatile supply and demand profiles. For instance, last year, enough energy to power almost one million homes for a year, generated from wind, was lost through inefficiencies in the system at a cost of £507 million, according to LCP, a consultancy. The UK’s wind capacity has increased from 5.4 GW in 2010 to 25.7 GW in 2021, but due to a lack of adequate infrastructure, such as grid- level battery storage, curtailment is costing vast sums and wasted potential. Cutting lost energy will, of course, be crucial in meeting our energy goals, both in decarbonising and reducing the cost passed onto consumers. With wind energy curtailments expected to cost the consumer a staggering £1 billion per year by 2025, rapid investment and development of infrastructure are needed now. An increase of just 20 GH of battery storage could reduce the amount of wasted wind power in the UK by 50%.
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