BWEA, the UKs leading renewable energy trade association, warns that a clear implication of the latest report from energy regulator Ofgem is that we have no alternative to going green.
The report, released today, flags up four energy market scenarios to 2020. It states that having less renewables on the system, compared to targets, could end up costing consumers up to 60% more on household bills due to fossil fuel price volatility. The report also states that the price of oil has quadrupled over the last 10 years, and the price of coal and gas has doubled. Significantly, the document does not offer a no renewables model.
BWEA makes clear that the Dash for Energy scenario, which predicts only 15% of renewable electricity installed, or half of the UKs 2020 target, is also the costliest to consumers, as the cheap and plentiful energy we should be securing from renewables will have to be provided by expensive oil and gas. Only the so called Green Stimulus scenario is set to deliver a triple whammy of modest price increases, renewable energy targets and carbon reductions.
Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive said: Wind, wave and tidal energy can deliver both energy security and price stability. Putting our faith into fossil fuels could irreparably damage the environment and still not save us any money. This study clearly shows that we must back the Renewable Energy Strategy and deliver nationally on our share of the pan-European carbon reduction targets. Doing nothing is simply not an option.
The BWEA also emphasised that no other low carbon technologies apart from wind, wave and tidal will be available in quantity within the timescales required. Carbon capture and storage, also known as clean coal, is yet to be tested on a large scale, while any new nuclear power stations are unlikely to be ready before the end of the next decade. It must also be borne in mind that while clean coal and nuclear have low carbon credentials, neither use sustainable resources and both are set to further increase fuel costs.
As the report implies, the current challenge facing the UK energy market offers a perfect opportunity to achieve an unprecedented degree of energy independence and sustainability. By the end of the next decade the UK could be at the forefront of worldwide investment in renewables, creating 60,000 jobs and getting a third of our electricity from wholly natural and renewable sources. We need to upgrade our outdated electricity network and have a more diverse generation portfolio. Renewables will be a fraction of the additional short-term total cost but they will bring huge environmental benefits and returns on initial investment for decades to come.