The UK would adopt a target of 65% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030 under a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, who aims to deliver 25GW of solar and create 50,000 jobs in the sector.
The Labour leader has launched his environment and energy manifesto, outlining his approach to the transition towards a low carbon economy. Central to his pledges is the target for renewable electricity, which would be delivered through a combination of technologies, principally offshore wind.
The manifesto estimates that solar PV could be delivered at a price of 4.5p/kwh, or £45/MWh. This is significantly lower than the Committee on Climate Change’s estimates of £64/MWh in 2030 and also appears to discount the additional cost of solar’s intermittency, thought to be an extra £10-20/MWh.
The manifesto argues that capital costs for solar would reduce over time due to the certainty provided by the National Investment Bank, a £500bn backed institution which would offer cheap loan financing. Combined with policy certainty and the CCC’s projected cost reductions, the manifesto claims its estimates are reasonable when placed at the lower end of CCC modelling.
As well as decarbonising the power sector, Corbyn’s delivery of 65% renewable electricity, rising to 85% as technology “improves and diffuses”, is also dependent on the housing sector reducing its energy demand by around two thirds by 2030.
This would be achieved through a national home insulation programme would see at least four million homes insulated to energy efficiency standard B or C in the first term of a Labour Government. This is significantly more ambitious than the Conservative government’s goal of insulating one million homes over the current parliament.
The UK is currently expected to overshoot its 2020 targets and deliver around 34% of electricity from renewables, while Corbyn’s ambitious target would see the UK continue this upward trajectory.
Speaking in Nottingham yesterday to launch the manifesto, Corbyn was expected to say: "When Labour gets back into power Britain will lead the world in action on climate change.
“We will act to protect the future of our planet, with social justice at the heart of our environment policies, and take our fair share of action to meet the Paris climate agreement - starting by getting on track with our Climate Change Act goals.
"We want Britain to be the world's leading producer of renewables technology. To achieve this we will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, and drive the expansion of the green industries and jobs of the future."
The manifesto claims building up the UK’s solar capacity alongside other technologies would create over 300,000 jobs in the renewables industry, while Corbyn also plans to make Britain a world leading producer of renewables technology.
His other plans for decarbonisation include funding strategies for energy-intensive industries to lower their emissions; allow local authorities to set annual renewables deployment targets; and place a duty on distribution network operators to deliver an annual 10% reduction in their carbon footprint.
It is unclear how this could feasibly be delivered however it is likely that low carbon technologies would be favoured, much in the same way as reforms to the capacity market suggest. Labour would introduce a new Clean Power Mechanism with a carbon merit order that would first take demand-side response followed by low-carbon, then high carbon.
The Labour leader would also bring back the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) within his first month of office after it was scrapped by Theresa May within her first week as prime minister.
“The decision to scrap the government’s Energy and Climate Change department was short-sighted and irresponsible, and has set us back in our efforts to combat climate change,” he was expected to say.
Corbyn has also pledged to end fracking, branding it “not compatible” with the UK’s climate change targets; support the existing policy of phasing out coal-fired power stations; and propose 200 new publicly owned "local energy companies" by 2025 and 1,000 new "community energy co-operatives" backed by state funding.