Chris Huhne outlined the Government’s Carbon Plan to reach a cut in emissions by at least 80 percent on 1990 levels by 2050. In order to meet projected demand, Britain’s level of electricity generation is expected to increase by 30-60 percent, as the Energy Secretary aims to electrify transport and increase energy efficiency in all homes by 2050 in the pursuit of a low carbon economy.

The Carbon Plan states that 40-70GW of the capacity required by 2030 is expected to come from “low carbon technologies, such as nuclear, renewables and fossil fuel stations with CCS.” By 2050, 100GW of low carbon generation capacity is expected to be in place; five times the current levels in the UK. 

The Carbon Plan states that, in order to meet the 2020 renewables target, 30 percent of electricity generation must be provided by renewables. The document continues to set out the strategy for renewable technologies, indicating that renewable electricity could provide 35-50GW of electricity by 2030.

To help meet the renewables target, the Government has announced measures to drive down the cost of offshore wind to £100/MWh by 2020, stating: “To drive cost reductions, the Government has committed up to £50 million over the next few years to support innovation in offshore and marine technologies.”

The commitment to offshore and marine technologies comes in the wake of a review on solar photovoltaic subsidies by the Energy Secretary, who is proposing plans that could see the UK solar industry fall from 500MW down to 10MW in just one year.

The Carbon Plan then goes on to claim that “offshore wind and energy from waste are likely to be priorities for support from the Green Investment Bank.”

As published in the Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap, solar photovoltaic technology is not considered one of the eight key renewable sources expected to play a significant role in the country’s energy mix through 2020, as the Government “focuses on the eight technologies capable of making the most significant yet cost-effective contribution to achievement of the 2020 target or our longer term ambitions.”

The Carbon Plan concludes by clearly setting out that it has no support for a particular technology, commentating that: “The mix of low carbon technologies that is built on the way to 2050 is for the market to decide: The technologies with the lowest costs will win the biggest market share.”