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DIGEST OF UK ENERGY STATISTICS: LOW-CARBON SOURCES OF ENERGY

The new edition of the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) for 2019, published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on 25 July 2019 showed that in 2018, and despite outages, nuclear retained its place as the largest source of low-carbon electricity. This continued the trend from 2017, when it contributed 20.8% of all electricity generated, and low-carbon sources of electricity generated 50.1% of all power in the UK.

This is consistent with the findings reported in the Energy Trends: March 2019 Special Feature Article, which stated that in 2018 nuclear accounted for 18.7% of total electricity supplied to the grid, with fossil fuels supplying 47.7% and renewables 33.6%. The authors of this special report noted that the UK’s energy mix has changed completely since 1995, when nuclear contributed 25.3% and fossil fuels 72.5%.

The reports constitute recognition of the continuing need for, and contribution from, nuclear energy as a low-carbon ‘always available’ fuel and a vital part of the energy mix, essential to the UK’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

However, they also note that seven of the eight existing nuclear plants are due to be retired by 2030, and that despite the plans for plants at Sizewell and Bradwell, only the new reactors at Hinkley Point C are presently under construction. More needs to be done to reduce the costs of both construction and decommissioning. It is therefore significant that BEIS launched a new consultation on 23 July 2019 on a Regulated Asset Base model for nuclear financing.

About the Author

William Wilson is a specialist environmental, regulatory and nuclear lawyer with over 25 years experience in government, private practice and consultancy. He worked as a senior lawyer at the UK Department of the Environment/DETR/Defra, and helped to build up the environmental and nuclear practices at another major law firm. William has experience of all aspects of environmental law, including water, waste, air quality and industrial emissions, REACH and chemicals regulation, environmental protection, environmental permitting, litigation, legislative drafting, managing primary legislation, negotiating EU Directives and drafting secondary legislation.

Prospect Group is an award winning Multi-Disciplinary Practice combining the legal services of Prospect Law with the consultancy services of Prospect Advisory. Our lawyers and technical experts provide a single point of reference for clients involved in energy, infrastructure and other development projects.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here

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NET ZERO: THE UK’S CONTRIBUTION TO STOPPING GLOBAL WARMING

The UK Committee on Climate Change ‘CCC’, established by the Climate Change Act 2008, has been recommending 5 yearly carbon budgets and seeing them enacted as law by the constituent Parliaments of the UK for 10 years.

In May 2019 the CCC, reflecting on the latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and perhaps sensing a shift in the tectonic plates of public opinion on climate change, produced a new report for the Parliaments of the UK, Wales and Scotland – ‘Net Zero – the UK’s contribution to stopping global warming.’

The CCC has now proposed that the UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years, by setting an ambitious new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. It proposes that Scotland could reach net zero emissions by 2045, with Wales achieving 95% reductions by 2050.

Introducing the new recommendations, the CCC said –

“The CCC’s recommended targets, which cover all sectors of the UK, Scottish and Welsh economies, are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in peoples’ lives, and should be put into law as soon as possible.”

This target, and the political will to meet it, will create major and immediate challenges, whilst also opening up major new opportunities, across many sectors including –

  • The automotive sector
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Carbon Capture and Storage technology
  • Low carbon hydrogen
  • The waste industry
  • Aviation
  • Shipping
  • Farming
  • Low carbon power
  • Banking, finance and insurance

In fact, of course, as the CCC has said, this will affect all sectors of the economy. In an article for the Guardian in April 2019, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Banque de France, and Frank Elderson, Chair of the Network for Greening the Financial System, wrote that –

“The catastrophic effects of climate change are already visible around the world. From blistering heatwaves in North Africa to typhoons in south-east Asia and droughts in Africa and Australia, no country or community is immune…

Carbon emissions have to decline by 45% from 2010 levels over the next decade in order the reach net zero by 2050. That requires a massive reallocation of capital. If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist.”

Major changes in environmental and other laws and regulations will be needed at the UK level and in each of the devolved Parliaments, and we expect to be involved in advising some of the many businesses and industries affected by the changes.

About the Author

William Wilson is a specialist environmental, regulatory and nuclear lawyer with over 25 years experience in government, private practice and consultancy. He worked as a senior lawyer at the UK Department of the Environment/DETR/Defra, and helped to build up the environmental and nuclear practices at another major law firm. William has experience of all aspects of environmental law, including water, waste, air quality and industrial emissions, REACH and chemicals regulation, environmental protection, environmental permitting, litigation, legislative drafting, managing primary legislation, negotiating EU Directives and drafting secondary legislation.

Prospect Group is an award winning Multi-Disciplinary Practice combining the legal services of Prospect Law with the consultancy services of Prospect Advisory. Our lawyers and technical experts provide a single point of reference for clients involved in energy, infrastructure and other development projects.

This article remains the copyright property of Prospect Law Ltd and Prospect Advisory Ltd and neither the article nor any part of it may be published or copied without the prior written permission of the directors of Prospect Law and Prospect Advisory.

This article is not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and it should not be relied on in any way.

For more information or assistance with a particular query, please in the first instance contact Adam Mikula on 020 7947 5354 or by email on adm@prospectlaw.co.uk.

For a PDF of this blog click here