Main navigation

Social sharing options

You are here:

  1. Home
  2. Blog

BlogRSS

2050 Pathways Debate

Having an energy-literate conversation about the UK’s options to 2050

YouTube Preview Image

Welcome to this online debate about which pathway the UK should take to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

A panel of eight climate and energy experts have set out how they think the UK could do this using the DECC 2050 web tool. You can also have a go at producing your own pathway using the web tool.

Here’s how the debate will work:

  • Thursday 3 and Friday 4 March: see our experts pathways and follow their debate
  • Saturday 5 to Tuesday 8 March: the debating forum is opened up so you can have your say on the pathways
  • Wednesday 9 March: the debating forum is narrowed down again to our experts only when they will sum up and present their new preferred pathway.
  • Until the end of March: you can continue to share your thoughts and pathways on the DECC blog

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to read the debate.


The panellists and their pathways

Mike Childs: demand highly curtailed and very high renewables
In Mike’s pathway, 20% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 80% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Mike’s pathway in more detail

Dustin Benton: demand highly curtailed and high renewables
In Dustin’s pathway, 33% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 81% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Dustin’s pathway in more detail

Professor Nick Jenkins: maximum electrification of homes and industry
In Nick’s pathway, 54% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 82% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Nick’s pathway in more detail

Mark Brinkley: lots of bioenergy
In Mark’s pathway, 66% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 79% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Mark’s pathway in more detail

Duncan Rimmer: mix of CCS, nuclear, renewables and all cars electrified
In Duncan’s pathway, 60% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 81% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Duncan’s pathway in more detail

Dr David Clarke: mix of CCS, nuclear and renewables
In David’s pathway, 56% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 81% below 1990 levels in 2050.
David’s pathway in more detail

Keith Clarke: high electrification of transport, homes and industry
In Keith’s pathway, 58% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 77% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Keith’s pathway in more detail

Mark Lynas: lots of geosequestration
In Mark’s pathway, 78% of primary energy will be imported and emissions will be 80% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Mark’s pathway in more detail

Filed under: Climate Change

Comments: 174 Comments on 2050 Pathways Debate
Posted on: Mar 2 2011

174 Responses to “2050 Pathways Debate”

  1. Jakobsweg says:

    I think in 2050 we need more solar and wind power. This fact is important for our society.

  2. This is a nice tool to help public discussions and I wish to thank everyone who has participated in making it happen and is contributing to its development. Many have pointed out that is is quite pointless to add TWhs together without thinking of costs. When we make such drastic changes it is not even enough to consider each cost separately and add them together, but we really need a system wide costs. How much do the wind turbines, NPPs etc. cost AND how much grid upgrades costs AND how much additional backup has to lie on the background running possibly at low capacity factors (increasing costs)? I have now only glanced at Lynas’s and Childs scenarios and I have a strong impression that Lynas’s scenario is far more realistic.

    Questions to Childs: You expect bioenergy to account for 165 TWh and be produced on 5% of UK land. If I am not mistaken this implies about 1.6W/m^2 which is MUCH higher than can be expected for crops…especially in UK. Care to clarify this? (see Without hot air in chapter 6 page 43). For PV your figure seems to be about 14kWh/d*person which is much higher than the similar rooftop limit discussed in WHO. How come?

    Also, discussion about storage and balancing is missing in this tool. The figures do not necessarily add up unless the production actually can mach the demand each minute of the year. There are no feasible ways to store energy in such large amounts as a required to make all renewable scenarios add up. (For wind only system you need to store more than 10% of yearly production, storage must also be able to happen at a rate which is about the same as the power consumption of the background society. You should also be able to use the storage at a rate corresponding to all the power consumption of the society.) Storage is a HUGE problem and there is NO solution that adds up in the horizon. If you think there is, please tell what it is, explain how it adds up, and how much is costs. Hoping for a miracle is not acceptable especially if it is used as a reason to oppose solutions that could work in the absence of miracles.

  3. Anthony says:

    I found something weird in the model. If you begin with the reference pathway, and modify only nuclear: there is no difference in CO2 emissions between levels 3 and 4. Is there a bug in the program or something more complex that I did not understand?

  4. As someone suggested earlier Great Britain as an Island nation with ample sea front access and big wave generating tides should be placing a much larger focus on the immense power of wave energy which we can harness for free, we should use our natural resources in an eco friendly way just like Iceland and Indonesia harness their natural volcanic energy and thermal springs we should be doing the same (its hardly like solar energy will power us through a traditioanl UK winter when we need power the most!)

  5. MArk Teale says:

    I guess one way of increasing green energy production at a low cost would be to incentivise small companies and people to invest a few thousend pounds to generate it themselves. Then at an opportune moment to reduce the incentive payments to below the market cost of electricity. Oppps – sorry the government has already thought of this one! 41p per unit for new installations, 9p per unit for old ones!!!! It sort of destroys any trust in the policies that the government puts forward that involves the general public.

  6. Considering we are an island we should be looking harness tidal energy combinig it with a provision for flooding control in all low lying estuaries.

  7. DECC 2050 says:

    Thank you, again, for all your excellent comments and analysis. As mentioned beforehand, much more detailed 2050 Pathways analysis of the individual sectors can be found here (http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/2050/calculator_exc/calculator_exc.aspx)

    To comment just on a couple of your points:
    •Indeed, the cost analysis is currently under way. We are committed to publishing our initial findings this year. Obviously, as this work needs to cover the whole of the UK as well as a 40 year period, we will be looking at indicative cost ranges. Thank you for your good tips on approaching this task. They have been forwarded to the 2050 Pathways cost team.
    •Excellent insights on nuclear options. Thorium reactors are, indeed, under discussion. We need to see when this technology is fully deployable.
    •Embedded emissions are an obvious issue when calculating national emissions worldwide. The Climate Change Act of 2008 has committed the UK to achieving an 80% GhG emissions reduction in 2050. If you believe, due to embedded emissions this target should be higher (or lower) you can try in the 2050 Pathways Calculator what this would entail.

    Hope this helps and thank you, again, for your interest in our work.

  8. Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

    This has been an extremely thought provoking and well developed debate with experts summing up and DECC summarising the contributions. Congratulations DECC Pathways Team!

    We are facing challenging times with the economic situation and sustainability issues caused by global warming, population growth, finite resources and political restraints like security of supply.

    Engineers are needed to help to do this and should be well trained in ensuring best practice to meet performance targets. It is amazing what can be done. Since the days of the Comet and Boeing 707, fuel consumption per passenger of large jets has reduced by 76% over 50 years.

    We all need to play our part, just as we are in helping to cut the budget deficit. But if we need to do this, then the politicians and DECC personnel must ensure that it is done sensibly and cost effectively always aiming for the low hanging fruit first, like demand side efficiency and energy conservation via the ‘green deal’, with legislation to make people aware (the carrot) and, if no notice is taken, with disincentives (like the landfill tax), and legal enforcement (the stick).

    The costs to be included in the Summer DECC Pathways Analysis should be transparent. In the case of the renewables they will be based at present on the very generous Renewable Obligation ROCs – 2ROCs for offshore windpower costing us all £150/MWh plus RPI for the next 20 years or to 2037, including current wholesale cost of about £50/MWh or FITs/RHIs to incentivise the investment.
    In respect to comments on embedded carbon, please remember that a 3rd generation nuclear plant will generate up to 12TWhs of electricity annually or c.3.2% of total current production, saving in 7.2Mtonnes of CO2 annually for 60 years.
    Since the DECC launched this debate we have had Japan’s horrendous earthquake followed by the devastating tsunami causing the near melt down of the Fukushima 4 nuclear plants, all built in the 1970s. The 3rd generation nuclear plants now under construction have far superior passive safety features for shut down (control rods and natural circulation coolant systems etc.,), which would have prevented the disaster at Fukushima. The Nuclear industry has been playing it very cautiously for fear of seeming to be too confident until all the facts are known, which is the correct way. Suffice to say very few nuclear plants old or new will have to cope with earthquakes such as this one! There are 50 plants in Japan and only the FK plant failed due to the tsunami not the earthquake as it had only a 6m high sea wall bund according to a TV report. There are 436 plants in the world 58 of them in France and around 54 under construction and 141 planned at Feb 2010 (Ref World Nuclear University Press – ‘Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century” 2nd Ed by Ian Hore-Lacy) . According to reports commissioned by DECC in 2010, the costs of nuclear plants designed for 60 year life and 85% achievable load factor, (wind turbines are designed for 25 years life and 25% (onshore) and 35% (offshore) load factors, are all considerably lower than renewables except for onshore wind and biomass/ co-firing etc., It is expected that investigations of safety on 3rd generation plants in low level seismic areas like the UK will show that increase in these costs, to cover further safety considerations, should not be great. They would have to double to reach the level of cost per MWh of offshore wind or wave/tidal current.

    This all will no doubt be shown up in the 2050 Pathways analysis later this summer.

  9. Paul Steverson says:

    I posted last on 8 March and suggested that my Carbon emissions reduction would be best achieved using the option of 15 Nuclear reactors (with reservations).
    Subsquently we have now had the Fukushima power plant upset. There were many pro-Nuclear statements on this blog but they all suggested that these type of problems wouldn’t happen again because of improved designs, passive safety etc. etc. Mia Culpa

    Unfortunately a LWR does not really ‘do’ passive safety, being at high pressure, with huge output per active volume, coolant subject to loss of effectiveness due to phase change etc.

    I have been searching the internet and although we have historically backed Light water PWR and AGR in the UK designs these were based upon the U235/U238 followed by reprocessing because this was the route imposed upon the industry by the military which wanted to acquire Plutonium. Most countries now have a huge legacy waste problem which is an anathema for the bulk of the population (thinking of their children).

    If nuclear is to be considered as an essential part of the Carbon reduction plan. The country’s fuel of the future it may be better to consider an alternative nuclear route of Thorium232/U233 Molten salt reactor which does not appear to produce such large volumes of long lived waste (Actinides); the design does not require a high pressure vessel, or high pressure pumps. The output per unit volume is much lower, and has a positive safety feature of reducing output with increasing temperature. The design requires instant continuous reprocessing of the fuel to maintain performance using physical separation (thermal separation using Vacuum distillation) – of the fission product fluoride salts from the fissile and fertile Fluoride salts fuel) rather than the acid/ chemical separation of U/Pu and Fission products. The fuel, being just a mixture of salts in a big tank does not need multi year validation of the design, in order to prove the fuel design is safe, the fuel cannot break under adverse conditions since it is not in cans which can burst. Fluoride salts are very stable (more stable than regular Salt), the Reactor is complicated by the potential corrosive nature of the salts, however 30 years has passed since the prototype MSRs were operated by the US at Oak Ridge, and new alloys and ceramics have been developed since the mark 1 & 2 reactors were operated. Many patents will have expired and new IP could be obtained for the developers. Finally the statement that Thorium is 10 times more abundant than all Uranium (1000 times more abundant than U235) should make policy makers open the debate more widely than just asking Nuclear or non Nuclear. Historically we may not have backed the best route for Nuclear, because it all started during the second world war when we had other objectives.

    P.S. Maybe, we can also open the debate as to whether or not our existing coastal Nuclear power plants are resistant to the effects of a ‘Thousand year Tsunami’, and if not why not, and how long would it take to make them make them resistant?

    • Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

      According to Times report 14th March by Science correspondent from interviews with Prof Robin Grimes , Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering, Imperial College, London and Prof Paddy Regan, Nuclear Physics, UoSurrey

      “New (3rd generation) reactors have passive safety systems, which use gravity and convection (natural circulation) to cool down, so they ‘fail safe’ without intervention.”

      1000 year tsunami should be considered! 20 m bunds? No doubt all this will come out in the next few months in a rational and carefully considered report rather than knee jerk reactions of politicians.

  10. Just found this on another “blog”
    Diverting indirect subsidies from the nuclear industry to the photov
    Posted by: “Joseph” josephebb@yahoo.ca josephebb
    Date: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:03 am ((PDT))

    If global energy demand would continue to grow at current rates, (2% per year 17 Terawatts), the needed energy requirement would be just over 101 Terawatts by 2100.

    A little bit of overkill, here.
    Joseph

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V2W-529C3TM-8&_user=1025668&_coverDate=03%2F03%2F2011&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050549&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1025668&md5=a827d8132be624fd3d835041431443c4&searchtype=a

    Abstract
    Nuclear power and solar photovoltaic energy conversion often compete for policy support that governs economic viability. This paper compares current subsidization of the nuclear industry with providing equivalent support to manufacturing photovoltaic modules. Current U.S. indirect nuclear insurance subsidies are reviewed and the power, energy and financial outcomes of this indirect subsidy are compared to equivalent amounts for indirect subsidies (loan guarantees) for photovoltaic manufacturing using a model that holds economic values constant for clarity. The preliminary analysis indicates that if only this one relatively ignored indirect subsidy for nuclear power was diverted to photovoltaic manufacturing, it would result in more installed power and more energy produced by mid-century. By 2110 cumulative electricity output of solar would provide an additional 48,600 TWh over nuclear worth $5.3 trillion. The results clearly show that not only does the indirect insurance liability subsidy play a significant factor for nuclear industry, but also how the transfer of such an indirect subsidy from the nuclear to photovoltaic industry would result in more energy over the life cycle of the technologies.

    Highlights
    ► The indirect insurance liability subsidy has been quantified over the life cycle of the U.S. nuclear fleet. ► It was found to play a significant factor in the economics of the nuclear industry. ► A transfer of such an indirect subsidy from the nuclear to photovoltaic industry would result in significantly more energy over the life cycle of the technologies.

    Keywords: Nuclear energy; Nuclear insurance subsidy; Photovoltaic energy

  11. Further thought,
    Why is it that the Solar industry is busy with cost reduction, while the wind industry does not seem to be ? Are they looking at alternative technologies ?

    See the contrawind.pdf file on my Linked In Profile Box
    http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/ferrand-stobart/11/b31/b88

  12. Solar PV initiatives:-
    1/. Install above all car park bays and other hard standings, potential is 2 million+ bays at up to 2kWp each depending on site & technology. Stansted Airport has 26,000 bays, Cribs Causeway 10,000, a 400+ branch supermarket @ say 200 bays/branch 80,000, add railways stations, hospitals, government offices [GCHQ about 1500 bays potential est 2.8MWp]

    2/. Develop an “off grid” 24 volty dc package for domestic lighting [LED] plus feeds for computers, telephphones and a small fridge. Battery storage plus standard mains fed battery charger as “belt & braces”. House wiring to be disconnected from main distrtibution board, and used for the dc circuits BS7671 would apply still

    3/. Note rapid cost eduction of PV panel prices eg http://www.ldksolar.com/
    They are now claiming modules at below $1 [ £0.62] per watt see
    http://www.electroiq.com/index/display/pv-wire-news-display/1385368726.html?cmpid=EnlEIQDailyMarch252011
    and
    QSolar Ltd. Announces Near Grid Parity
    http://www.electroiq.com/index/display/pv-wire-news-display/1383806119.html?cmpid=EnlEIQDailyMarch232011

    3/. Develop financial packages for investment in PV for concerns which cannot benefit from depreciation allowances see
    http://www.ordons.com/europe/western-europe/23801-organizations-now-have-access-to-clean-renewable-solar-power-without-major-capital-investment.html?goback=.gde_52038_member_48011048

    4/. Examine list of “unused” inventions see http://www.padrak.com/vesperman

  13. Colin Megson says:

    There is only one silver bullet and one way only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (with time to spare) and that is the widespread deployment of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs). It is 40 years since experimentation and reactor operation ceased on this technology, but nothing developed since approaches their cost-effectiveness. Unsubsidised, they will do the job, without sucking tax money from health, education, etc..

    There is no quicker, safer, cheaper or more eco-friendly way.

    Quicker: We could be through the first-of-a-kind prototype LFTR in 5 years and the first, say, 100 MWe factory-built units coming off production lines in 10 years. LFTRs are load-following so we could replace coal and natural gas fired power stations within 15 years.

    Safer: Arnold Weinberg, the inventor and holder of the patents on Light Water Reactors (LWRs) – the type planned for the UK’s new-build programme – railed against their use for civil power generation, predicting the types of accidents seen at Three Mile Island and Fukushima. He wanted LFTRs to be used for civil applications, because they operate at atmospheric pressure and therefore have no ‘driver’ to expel radioactive substances into the environment; LWRs operate at 160 times atmospheric pressure and need containment structures to prevent this, and they didn’t work in-extremis at Fukushima.

    Cheaper: You can run by a LFTR design and know they will be a fraction of the cost of an equivalent LWR – low pressure plant, requiring no containment structure versus LWRs with reactor pressure vessel needing 6 inches thick forged-steel walls and huge (pressure resistant) containment domes. Watt-for-watt, LFTRs are a quarter of the price of wind generation and one twentieth of the price of solar power.

    Eco-friendly (to provide 1 GWyear of electrical energy):

    Be given, or be paid to take away, 200 tonnes of thorium ore, from a rare earth element mine; provide 1 tonne of thorium fuel; emit no greenhouse gasses; produce 1 tonne of radioactive waste, which decays to background radiation levels in 300 years (easily, cheaply and safely stored).
    OR –
    Mine 800,000 tonnes of uranium ore; provide 35 tonnes of enriched uranium fuel; emit no greenhouse gasses; produce 35 tonnes of radioactive waste, some of which needs to be stored for hundreds of thousands of years.
    OR –
    Use wind turbine at: 4 times the cost = 4 times the energy and resource use = 4 times the eco-destruction.
    OR –
    Use solar panels at: 20 times the cost = 20 times the energy and resource use = 20 times the eco-destruction.

    Support LFTRs on the only UK Blog: http://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/ , where you can link to “Energy from Thorium”, to access the website of Kirk (Indiana) Sorensen, the world’s leading authority on LFTRs and the man who resurrected Weinberg’s paper records (remember those) in 2000.

  14. Cassandra says:

    From reading the recent posts I still don’t think many have picked up on the significance of Induced Energy and Emissions.

    It really is a game changer, when you include in any energy production scheme the cost of buying £1 of labour to build it is 0.25 kg of CO2.
    The labour extends all the way across the supply chain from extracting raw materials such as iron ore to final assembly.

    E.g. the high speed rail link will cost 8.5 Million tonnes of CO2 just for the labour. The emissions associated with producing the Steel, concrete etc. are in addition to this.

    I also believe some are making the incorrect assumption that Photovoltaic panels are a zero or low carbon source of energy. They’re not. A typical domestic installation costs £10000, that’s 2.5 Tonnes of CO2 in induced emissions alone, in addition to the embodied energy/emissions required to produce the materials.

    In the modern economy I work in my speciality, earn money and use it to buy the things I need, made by another specialist in producing, say a washing machine, food, steel, a car etc.
    In the final analysis, all that happens is that I am exchanging my work for someone else’s work. Money is the intermediary.

    In simple terms the induced effect works like this – a subsistence farmer has a near zero carbon footprint, he produces very little useful work in his 8 hour day and consumes very little energy. However if he gets the job in a factory he then has access to machines and energy so that in the same 8 hours he can do much more useful work. This is of course rewarded by paper tokens – fiat money – with which he can buy more stuff – direct energy and energy embodied in goods. He consumes much more. This is the induced effect – by giving money in exchange for his work I create a consumer.

    From the government’s carbon audit, using models from the Office for National Statistics, the effect is 0.25 kg CO2 for every £1 spent.

    Not counting the imported embodied and induced emissions in the form of manufactured goods from abroad is wrong. It’s no good pointing the finger at the Chinese for commissioning a coal fired power station every week, when they are using the energy making stuff to sell to us. We are the cause. The Chinese are aiming to reduce the intensity of emissions, but not total emissions.

    We Westerners are educated and have access to machines and energy. This makes us very productive and very well rewarded with fiat money, which we use to buy others’ work. We are turning subsistence farmers in the developing world into consumers by giving them manufacturing jobs, making stuff for us. The scope for increased consumption by such people is enormous. Note the majority of the world’s population are subsistence farmers, but would be happy to become factory workers. Work creates consumption which creates more work and so on…..

    So in addition to producing more energy by low carbon means and using less energy, we also have to look very closely at using less manufactured goods, because they all cost embodied and induced energy.

    A westerner taking an unpaid day off reduces his carbon footprint by 20% for that week. Really. He uses no energy commuting, nor at work and, above all, he has less money to spend on induced and embodied energy.

    Take some time off and chill out, while saving the planet at the same time. Work less, earn less, consume less.

    It’s difficult for elected politicians to tell us to buy less stuff. We like buying stuff, so they have let us off the hook:
    The targets are set from 1990 levels, when we were more industrialised, so we have given ourselves a head start.
    Developing nations are exempt from the targets and can go on building coal fired power stations.
    Imported embodied and induced energy is not counted as UK’s emissions, so we can go on buying coal fired goods from them.

    Business as usual, then.

    We do, however, share the same atmosphere, weather and sea level the world over.

    Regardless of the politician’s dealings, the one to watch is actual CO2 in the atmosphere. If it gets to 450ppm, global warming becomes runaway. I reckon we have 27 years to save the earth:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

  15. UK should go all out, harness wind, solar, thermal etc. and also safe nuclear power. Energy efficient infrastructure and urban planning will be a great boon in this combat.

  16. DECC 2050 says:

    A big thank you to the 8 climate and energy experts and to everyone else who contributed to this debate over the last week. We are delighted to see such a lively and well informed discussion. You have given the DECC 2050 Pathways team a lot of food for thought, so thank you for that.

    There have been a number of themes to the comments raised by contributors to the debate: the viability of behavioural change, nuclear vs renewables, costs, bioenergy concerns and the operation of the Calculator. This is a good opportunity for us to address a few of the questions raised about the operability of the Calculator:

    • Agriculture: there is scope to look at the role of agriculture in the Calculator – see the “livestock and their management” and “land dedicated to biomass” options. For a full discussion of this sector, see section E of the report published in July 2010 (http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/What%20we%20do/A%20low%20carbon%20UK/2050/216-2050-pathways-analysis-report.pdf). Also see details of recent updates to this sector in Part 2A of the report published this month (section 2A.K): http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/2050/1344-2050-pathways-analysis-response-pt2.pdf

    • Food security: there is some scope to look at the effect of each pathway on food production in the Calculator. The “livestock and their management” and “land dedicated to bioenergy” options allow you to vary how much land is used for these purposes.

    • District heating and CHP: there is scope to use these technologies in the Calculator. See the “home heating that isn’t electric” and “commercial heating that isn’t electric” options. For a full discussion of these technologies, see section D of the report published in July 2010 (http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/What%20we%20do/A%20low%20carbon%20UK/2050/216-2050-pathways-analysis-report.pdf). For a table showing how CHP and district heating is reflected in the Calculator, see page 123 of Part 2B of the report published this month: http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/2050/1344-2050-pathways-analysis-response-pt2.pdf

    • Making new buildings zero carbon: there is scope to do this in the Calculator. By increasing the level of effort in the “home insulation” option, new homes built become increasingly low carbon.

    • Use of bioenergy: the Calculator allows you to choose whether bioenergy is mainly converted into a solid, liquid or gas – see “type of fuels from biomass” option.

    • Using geothermal electricity: there is scope to do this in the Calculator.

    • Population size and economic growth: the Calculator assumes 2.5% GDP growth per year and 0.5% population growth. These reflect HM Treasury and National Statistics central projections. We have decided not to turn these into user-variables in the Calculator. But these assumptions are not “hard wired” into the Excel version of the Calculator in the sense that the user could make a change to these assumptions and automatically see that change reflected across all the other sector trajectories. The Excel version is found here: http://www.decc.gov.uk/media/viewfile.ashx?filetype=4&filepath=What%20we%20do/A%20low%20carbon%20UK/204-2050-calculator-spreadsheet.xlsx&minwidth=true.

    Some respondents commented that this debate would be easier to read if discussion on particular topics was grouped together (e.g. CCS viability, nuclear supply chains, etc). This is a good idea and something we will look at doing the next time.

    This debate formally closed on Wednesday, but the forum will remain open until the end of the month for further discussion.

    We plan to update the 2050 Calculator on a regular basis to take account of the latest evidence about what is physically and technically possible in each sector. Our next update to the Calculator, planned for summer 2011, is to integrate an analysis of the costs and some of the environmental impacts.

    DECC will also be looking to further engage the public in a dialogue about pathways to 2050, and to use the analysis to support policy development.

    • Willliam Orchard says:

      I have checked how District Heat is reflected in the calculator.
      When you look at the DH column, only a very small percentage of heat of 7% or 11% is allowed in any pathway from large power plants.
      This is a surprise as large power plants offer the highest COPs, and greatest CO2 displacements.
      I cant see a pathway that mirrors CHP on the Danish model by retrofitting high density domestic sector loads and low density suburban areas to DH.
      Between us can we get into the lower layers of the models and review the 7% and 17% assumptions and develop a new city wide district heating pathway?
      William

  17. Nick Jenkins says:

    In summary, it seems to me that the wide divergence of views expressed and different standpoints emphasises that this is not merely a technical or even techno/economic question. I thought the level of technical discussion was encouragingly high and although there are different views at least the debate defined the differences and highlighted where more work and/or demonstration projects would be useful. There was considerable concern expressed by some over lack of cost data but I am less concerned about this. Costs depend so much on the assumptions that are made (not least the discount rate used or “time value of money”) that it seems to me to choose one set of assumptions that then, through cost calculations, define a preferred path is not useful.
    I was more concerned with the difficulty within the debate of discussing the possibilities of behaviour change and going beyond assertion in seeing how we might reduce demand for energy. Any Pathway is very much easier to develop with a lower demand. I do not support an entirely supply side solution as history teaches us that wide-scale deployment of new energy technologies is difficult, slow and with its own problems
    A number of contributions did emphasise the wider considerations of how the UK develops its energy policy recognising the issues of environmental sustainability and equity throughout a world where resources (including energy) will be in increasingly short supply. For that reason I will return to my Pathway to see if I can reduce the use of imported Biomass. However, more generally the debate illustrated the difficulty of marrying wider societal considerations with the technical. In that I think we still have some way to go.

    • Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

      I have enjoyed this debate and some excellent summaries by the experts.

      In answer to Nick Jenkins comment on costs, may I suggest that costs are absolutely vital in ‘these deficit reduction times’. A key element of the the Coalition Government’s annual energy statement last year was ‘Cost effectiveness’ of all measure.

      I did quote some cost figures in one of my blogs. They were based on a report by Mott Macdonald in June 2010 for the DECC Pathways exercise and confirmed before that by Parsons Brinckerhoff in Jan 2010 in their report ‘Powering the Future -Update’ – Google them perhaps? They were ‘levelised’ costs all based on (from memory) 10% discount rate including such costs a decommissioning of nuclear etc., which answers Nck’s reservations on this. What they don’t account for is ‘market forces’ such as supply chain overload etc., but that probably affects all main power generation options wind (onshore/offshore), new 3rd generation nuclear and CCT/CCS. This cost issue is coming out i with DECC work on the 2050 Pathways in the summer. (Pathways team please correct this if this is wrong!)

      The Dutch Prime Minister P.M. Rutte stated last week ‘they want to achieve CO2 reduction targets in the most cost effective way.’ So energy policy of the new Government in the Netherlands is no more subsidies for offshore wind, solar and large biomass. Subsidies will be limited to relatively cheap renewable energy, i.e. onshore wind and biogas. There is a warm welcome to nuclear and promises of early decisions on build applications.

      With local authorities seeking ways of raising finance, what better way can they have but in putting up 3 or 4 x 1.5MW wind turbines near the towns & cities and one or two smaller ones near villages under the FITs to help local council charges. Many already do – Gateshead, Bristol, Swindon, Swaffham all come to mind.

      Being of an older vintage (free TV licence, bus pass etc.,) and an energy engineer, I have done my bit in reducing our energy consumption though not aas much as some – 50% heat reduction, including downsizing, all free top up insulation, double glazing, but no condensing boiler or ahsp/gshp yet, 10th anniversary Prius car but now live ½ mile from the town (Cheltenham) and station, so 5000 miles year (was 9000) at average 43mpg (55mpg long runs), but two or more air flights or ship holidays a year to make up for it!

      Looking forward to seeing what others say by end March when we return from sunnier climes!

  18. Cassandra says:

    Nuclear should not be considered a long term solution,

    There are large amounts of Uranium and Thorium, (though not in the UK) but most is in very small concentrations.

    The energy return on energy invested (EROEI) in extracting the fuel from phosphates and seawater will be below unity long before we run out of them.

    I note some studies (funded by the nuclear lobby) claim over unity EROEI for Uranium extraction from seawater (at 1ppm), though only primary energy in the process is considered. The additional consumption of energy arising from the additional employment of workers changes the numbers substantially. (ref induced emissions http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/175776/0086563.pdf)

    Realistically, if all our energy needs were satisfied by nuclear, the fuel would last a few decades only, not beyond 2050.

    Eventually the only game in town will be renewables, mostly Big Wind, as it is the lowest Capital Carbon cost of all the renewables. There will be a wide area Supergrid with Russia included, who will have to befriend us as we them. Neither participant of the supergrid can cut the other off, as the same will happen to them when the wind stops blowing over thier territory.

    Substantial demand side reduction will also be required.
    I don’t think that would be so hard to do – Note the reduction in petrol sales when oil was at a high price prior to the credit crunch. Car use is largely discretionary, as are overheated houses.

    • Luke Collie says:

      The argument for poor EROEI for nuclear power is frequently made, but can be dismissed. Even if you (wrongly) dismiss
      http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/WebHomeEnergyLifecycleOfNuclear_Power
      as too biased to consider, there is a simple economic argument. Most of the energy used by mines is in the form of diesel to run trucks and diggers, plus some electricity to run rock grinding equipment etc. Diesel energy is expensive, electricity is fairly expensive, uranium energy is cheap, roughly equivalent to £15/tonne coal or $5/barrel oil – it’s the reactor that is expensive. So to run at an economic profit with expensive energy going in and cheap energy coming out, and all their other costs to pay as well, the EROEI for the mine HAS to be high. If you do the calculations in detail – see link above -even for low-grade ores (300 grams uranium per tonne of rock at Rossing, Namibia is the lowest currently commercial) the EROEI is in the hundreds. Phosphate ores would be worse, but still positive by a good margin. There will be plenty of uranium at good EROEI for any reactors built in the next forty years, and probably much longer.

      We can only guess at what technology options will be available in 2050, our children/grandchildren will have to work out what to build then for themselves, but first we have to get there with the global environment, and national economy, in good enough shape that they have reasonable choices available. Building reactors now, as well as insulating houses and above all NOT building any more non-CCS fossil plants, are all part of achieving that.

      • Cassandra says:

        Luke,
        Read your link with intrest (did you read mine?)

        In my book 2+2=4, not 3.
        The LCA you cite deliberately misses out a large chunk of the story when calculating energy inputs to the process.

        Can you post a link to any Life Cycle Analysis which includes both the primary AND the induced components of energy inputs to nuclear fuel?

        If not, then retract your assertion. Half stories and deliberately misleading miscalculations are of no use to this debate.

  19. Duncan Rimmer says:

    A number of comments have related to the use of hydrogen as an energy source (for transport and electricity balancing) and its suitability for storage. Currently most of the hydrogen produced and used in industry comes via SMR (steam methane reformation) using gas; however, in future this will move towards electrolysis using “spare” low carbon generation.

    While all this sounds very reasonable I do have some concerns (but I’m no expert on hydrogen production) which relate to the level of energy conversion losses involved e.g. electrolysis 33%, power generation 50% & transport (new design ICE) 50%. Hence compared to using the electricity at the time of production we see a loss of around 66%. Hence, although I have no figures to back this up, these losses when coupled with the infrastructure needed must raise the question of cost effectiveness or am I missing something?

    Alternative storage for electricity balancing could be from greater pumped storage (and to avoid environmental impact onshore why not use offshore lagoon type storage instead), more localised use of old car batteries in the home or clusters at a distribution level or using existing gas storage facilities with the gas used in CCS plants (but only by increasing load factors rather than as low load factor back up plant which wouldn’t be economic).

  20. Keith Clarke says:

    This has been an interesting week; the online debate has been valuable, HM Governments’ Carbon Plan was published and the EU 2050 Roadmap released. In engineering terms we are beginning to understand how we might decarbonise the supply side but it is still not clear how we will achieve the hoped for behaviour change to reduce energy demand. The Pathway analysis is clearly not a one-off activity and we regularly iterate the pathway as we revise assumptions within the model.

    I agree with many of comments that Duncan makes and I remain confident about the delivery of engineering elements of the Pathway that we have proposed. We do need a greater awareness of the capacity of the private sector (both UK based and internationally) to design, produce, make safe, and operate low carbon energy generation plant; there are only so many nuclear plants and wind turbines that we can build and install. The notion of building 50 3-GW power stations is truly fanciful.

    I retain the belief that as engineers we must not only deliver the infrastructure changes required but that we must also inform the debate on what is technically and commercially possible. My next step will be to consider how the policies set out in the Carbon Plan might affect the Pathways being discussed.

    Philosophically I do feel that we should aim for national self-sufficiency and I recognise that we must be very thoughtful about how we use the ecosystem services and food production capacity of our countryside.

    I think that the DECC model has illustrated the inter-relationships of the choices we have to make and their impact over time. In contrast I was struck by the apparent simplicity of the CO2 reduction predictions in the EU 2050 Roadmap which seems suggests that we can produce an even reduction across all the sectors.

    I look forward to the broader debate.

  21. Mike Childs says:

    The posts on this blog have been fascinating. I have made some changes to my pathway but before I get to these I want to address some of the issues raised.

    * Security – the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer warned of a perfect storm of food, energy and water shortages by 2030. He said climate change will exacerbate these issues in unpredictable ways. I suggest our priority focus should be identifying what the UK can do between now and 2030 to increase our food and energy security at the same time as reducing carbon pollution at lest the 60 per cent recommended by the Committee on Climate Change. The DECC model does not easily allow one to construct this pathway. For example, it would be good to have level 4 build rates in on-shore wind but after mid-2030s begin decommissioning as marine renewables take-over). My new pathway aims to reduce energy imports, has no biomass imports (as others may need their land for their own food production), and only a small increase in UK biomass.
    * Economics – a number of posts bemoaned the lack of economic modelling connected to the pathways. Obviously DECC are looking at this. I do think we have to be aware of the costs associated with the pathways but we also need to be aware of costs over the long-term. We all know what the Stern Review said. On the whole demand management is likely to be the cheapest and fastest approach. On the supply side I notice that the Mott MacDonald report for DECC reports very favourably on renewables costs compared to nuclear.
    * Energy supply during cold windless winter days – this is really a challenge. In my pathway we need around 40GW of back-up. A number of posts suggested strategies that stored excess electricity supply from renewables, for example as hydrogen. Energy storage is an area that I think needs much greater research and development effort and I suspect we can find cost effective solutions by 2030 when this is more of a problem. Back-up gas could help with this but brings a carbon pollution cost. New nuclear power could reduce the need for this back-up but brings significant downsides.
    * Behavioural change – a number of posts suggested that expecting significant behavioural change was completely unrealistic. It is true that my earlier pathway and the new pathway do require significant change. I’m not yet willing to give up on this. If behavioural change is not possible in the UK and other developed countries, as well as elites in developing countries, then we are heading for very significant problems regarding resource use, climate change, food availability and water.
    * Nuclear – there are strong advocates for nuclear power and people who strongly advocate against it. The DECC model demonstrates that new nuclear build is not necessary if you choose to provide low carbon supply from marine renewables. But it also shows that you can reduce emissions significantly using nuclear power. For example, if you don’t like wind-farms, marine energy and solar power you can still meet the 80 per cent climate target although your cumulative carbon emissions will be 15 per cent greater than my pathway.

    To conclude, the exercise has been very useful. Even with my pathway however we still do not deliver emissions in line with a high chance of avoiding 2 degrees average global temperature increase, although we get close by including geo-sequestration (20 per cent over). Perhaps more is possible in some sectors (e.g. CHP, faster growth in off-shore wind) or that technologies will develop faster once the right frameworks are in place.

    My recommendation for DECC is that construct a scenario that has energy and food security at its heart whilst meeting carbon reduction targets. I suggest we would be foolish to ignore the warnings of the Chief Scientific Officer.

    My new pathway is at:
    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/1014333144431102431110044444034330410230443042044/primary_energy_chart

  22. Duncan Rimmer says:

    Well it’s been an interesting and informative debate with many good points raised and surprising/thankfully very few ridiculous comments. I was also encouraged to see that DECC are planning to continually develop the Calculator to include demand profiles and costs as these two factors will be vital in determining the optimal pathway as we move towards the target. However, there are a large number of uncertainties out there relating to technologies and costs which makes it impossible for anyone today to say what the optimal solution will be for 2050. Consequently, it’s important that we keep options open and don’t lock ourselves in to a pathway that proves sub optimal.

    I’m not arrogant enough to say that I have all the answers to how best to meet the GHG reduction target but I thought I’d share with you my observations/conclusions of both our analysis and the debate so far and how they measure up against the three policy objectives of sustainability, security of supply and affordability.

    Demand:
    One area everyone appears to agree on is the need for greater energy efficiency which after all is the cheapest way to achieve the target. While a number of people have accepted the need for higher energy bills to help the environment there are many more (rightly or wrongly) who haven’t, with their number one concern being cost, as demonstrated by the reaction to recent petrol and home energy price increases. Whilst I agree with a number of blogs that a push for behavioural change is required I’m not as optimistic about how far these can go. One thing that is clear to me is the need for clear unbiased information on costs and the impact on the environment of no action to help bring the public along with the need for change and how in the long term this will be of benefit to all.

    Electricity Generation:
    At the end of the day it’s all about reducing carbon emissions so whether electricity comes from renewable, nuclear or fossil fuels with CCS should be about practical issues e.g. the relative costs and diversity while not forgetting to address legitimate concerns over the potential impact on the environment.

    Nuclear:
    Most independent analysis has nuclear as one of the cheapest form of generation (assuming fossil fuel and carbon prices rise) beyond 2020 and seeing what other countries around the world are planning they also believe this to be the case. However, there are legitimate environmental concerns over waste and the associated costs. Other costs often cited actually have minimal impact on energy costs e.g. decommissioning costs which initially appear high but when spread across the energy produced over the 50-60 year lifetime of the plant become small. Uranium costs can treble without any real change to the energy price because for nuclear its all about capital and maintenance costs.

    One option to, in part, meet the concerns over waste would be to limit 3rd generation nuclear with the belief that 4th generation stations could reuse the spent fuel/waste but this is clearly one of a number of technology uncertainties along with nuclear fusion which must surely now be less than 40 years away!

    So how does nuclear measure up against the three policy objectives? Well in most pathways it can provide diversity (assuming it’s not the only source of power) and there are plenty of uranium resources around the world, the cost suggests affordability and although it’s zero carbon and therefore sustainable there remains concerns over waste which will need to be addressed.

    Renewable:
    The level of renewable generation will need to rise from 7% today to around 30% in 2020 (supported by ROCs and FITs) if renewable and emission targets are to be met assuming some contribution from renewable heat and transport. This is a dramatic increase particularly given the intermittent nature of most forms of renewable generation. Offshore wind will need to provide the largest share of this increase and given recent planning issues associated with landing points will no doubt require a more integrated approach offshore to deliver the energy needed to meet this growth.

    Other renewables can also play a role in providing both large and small scale generation. However, we shouldn’t ignore the potential for renewable heat (supported by RHI) provided by solar thermal, biomass and biogas. In particular biogas (when converted to biomethane) can be created from waste, which quite rightly shouldn’t be put in to landfill, as well as energy crops and if this gas is used within existing networks and burnt in gas boilers at 90%+ efficiency from peak heating requirements or used in industry (particularly with CCS) it is a far better use and low cost option when compared to burning it in small scale power stations at 30% efficiency or CHP units with new district heating networks. Although local district heating networks may well have a role in utilising waste heat from thermal generation.

    In addition biofuel will need to support the reduction or limitation in emissions from aviation and shipping along with improvements in design efficiency as recently seen in the Boeing Dreamliner and latest Daewoo container ships.

    So how does renewable energy measure up against the three policy objectives? Well clearly it’s a winner for sustainability although there are legitimate concerns of bi-crops and their potential impact on food prices etc. They can provide diversity (assuming they aren’t the only form of energy generation) across large geographical areas given the right regulatory framework that allows greater interconnectivity. Although if renewable energy is sourced from North Africa (e.g. solar power) as some scenarios suggest then this will result in similar concerns over security of supply as with fossil fuels as emphasised by current events. However, the concerns over intermittency issue can be managed with appropriate levels of interconnection and back up generation. Affordability is the main issue with renewables hence the requirement for the current support mechanisms. The big uncertainty is whether costs will come down over time sufficiently enough to be competitive against other forms of energy particularly as small scale applications lose out on economies of scale which in most cases cancel out any benefit from savings in transmission losses. Having said that renewables will provide the only source of new zero carbon generation for quite some time until new nuclear or CCS are built and will therefore need to play an important role in the generation mix (in reducing the cumulative emissions) for many years to come or if costs permit forever.

    Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS):
    Whilst CCS technology is unproven on a commercial scale with power generation it is proven in other areas e.g. Sleipner where excess CO2 is re-injected into a saline aquifer. If the estimates of shale gas prove correct and demand in the traditional sectors for gas fall, as heat is electrified, then gas prices could be competitive and when coupled with significant coal reserves it would be sensible for both fuels with CCS to provide diverse and affordable energy. I appreciate that a number of people will disagree on principle with this but if fuel prices are competitive and it’s burnt in line with stringent emission performance standards it will prove difficult for any Government to prevent. Also many of the pathways rely on carbon credits that involve biomass and CCS hence if this route to zero carbon is removed then other potentially more expensive levers will need to be pulled.

    Technology:
    As previously mentioned there are many uncertainties associated with the technologies expected to be required to meet the target. Hence it makes sense to utilise existing infrastructure in a low carbon way as long as possible. One interesting suggestion that came from the debate which I hadn’t heard before was using the waste heat from the sewage system with heat pumps which sounds a good practical idea to me. Likewise the use of the existing heat network (otherwise known as the gas network) to inject renewable biomethane makes practical and cost sense and also has the added benefit of be able to balance electricity when the base load heat is provided by a heat pump. This technology exists already and countries like Germany have targets for its use.

    One area surprisingly not mentioned in many blogs is the role of smart technology in flattening demand profiles and more efficient system design and operation which I believe will be vital in keeping costs down

    Road Transport:
    Most pathways, including mine, assume significant electrification of road transport and in particular cars and vans. However, it would appear there are differing views on miles travelled or the mode of travel. I would suggest given the nature/trend in society for work mobility that miles travelled will be difficult to limit hence more emphasis should be placed on the mode and alternatives to the car developed.

    Final Conclusions:
    In summary there are clearly numerous ways to achieve the target ranging from all renewable to all nuclear solutions. However, there are huge levels of uncertainty about technology, environmental impacts and costs that can’t be resolved now so I believe the best way forward is to take a prudent, practical and balanced approach that keeps options open and is therefore inherently flexible so the pathway can be adjusted along the way to ensure the target is achieved in a cost effective manner. This will then hopefully ensure the public buy into the pathway and there is no backlash against higher energy bills. Consequently, my pathway is based around five main pillars; demand efficiency (supported by energy efficiency measures and smart technology), renewables, nuclear, CCS and flexible interconnected networks. To ensure these are built to an appropriate timescale the planning regime needs to allow for environmental concerns as well as giving confidence to investors that the UK is a good place to do business whether for renewables or non renewables.

    While the Calculator is an excellent tool to use and is a great start in understanding the overall picture, unfortunately, I can’t replicate our analysis exactly when running the Calculator due to the lack of granularity (e.g. solar PV level 1 ~0GW with level 2 ~70GW) so when our view is somewhere between the two but closer to 0 than 70 hence we have to put in 0GW. Hopefully as the Calculator develops and our knowledge develops we will be able to revisit our pathway and replicate it in the Calculator. In addition the planned inclusion of annual demand and supply profiles to address the peak heating argument and cost information in the Calculator will be crucial to identify the implications of alternative pathways and enable a practical way forward for Government, industry and which the public can support.

  23. Robin Watson says:

    Bottom up not Top Down

    All these discussions seem to be from Government needs point of view not individual needs point of view.

    I want low cost, zero emission transport to enable me to travel around the UK to my music venues where I perform for free.

    I want a black box on the side of my house providing me with enough energy to heat it at zero emission.

    I’m retired on a pension of £300 per month, mortgage paid.

    Solve my problem and you solve the emission problems of millions and help us improve our lives. At the moment, I can’t afford to travel to my music venues because of the cost of fuel and I can’t afford to heat my house for the same reason.

    All the schedules of things to discuss, papers to present and what-not are just Civil Service speak for doing nothing.

    Use the £millions you have available to provide an actual solution for me (and many others like me) instead of on consultants and hot air.

    And please do it now!!!!!

  24. admin says:

    The debate is now closed to the public while our Experts consider their pathways.

    • Closing thoughts. The single most striking thing to come out of this exercise, for me, has been the realisation that this maybe a problem that we can solve fairly easily. What if we just go for the nuclear option and build the 30 or 40 new reactors we need to get the 650TWh/yr that we require to power the UK? And stop bleating about running out of uranium, and use thorium instead. It’s much safer and there’s much more of it.

      What if we then use the surplus electricity to produce hydrogen to run the things that don’t work well on electricity?

      We’d have no problems with intermittent supplies and back up storage reservoirs. No problems with unproven CCS or geosequestration. No problems with bedding in technologies like wave power or huge offshore wind turbines which might not last very long. No problems with using land for fuel crops when we should be using it for food.

      And we wouldn’t need to retrofit every building in the country to a level which we can only speculate about at present and, in practice, have little idea about how we can do it. We would just be able to use electric resistance heating and stop worrying about the CoPs of heat pumps.

      Flying is just about the only thing that couldn’t be switched to electricity or hydrogen, so flying may have to get a lot more expensive. Which it probably will, in any event, as the oil price heads steadily higher.

      Writing as someone who has spent decades advocating low energy housing solutions, this “revelation” is not resting very easily with me right now. But if the 2050 Pathway calculator is to be believed, then it seems to me there is a supply-side fix to all this and that we don’t all have to turn into Good Lifers. Or at least we don’t because of a lack of energy.

    • David Clarke says:

      This has been a fascinating debate to watch and it is good to see the high level of understanding that lies behind some of the comments. For me there isn’t a simple answer or a ‘silver bullet’ and that includes basing everything on nuclear (which several people have advocated).
      I go back to my original comments and pathway which reflect much of the debate – we need a route to 2050 which offers :

      Practicality – in terms of the capability and capacity of the supply-chain to deliver new plant and infrastructure at the necessary rates and at a time when there will be global competition for capacity which is likely to drive price rises. (This creates a UK industrial development opportunity of course provided we are using technology which is globally applicable).

      Affordability – in both capital cost to the UK (partly driven by the supply-chain points above), in broader economic impact in terms of energy prices and their impact on domestic and business consumers and in industrial development in the UK.

      Security – which can only be achieved practically by using a range of fuels to mitigate potential shocks to supply and pricing and, critically, by effective demand reduction and demand balancing between day and night and on a seasonal basis. Fuels will need to include UK grown bioenergy crops as well as renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels supported by energy storage for both power and heat.

      Rationality – recognising the potential inertia in societal change and also the potential tipping points that may drive sudden changes and, whilst working within rational bounds for extensive (and potentially ‘irrational’) societal and behavioural change.

      At ETI we model many pathways to 2050, look for the lowest cost routes and the associated technology developments and then invest in these developments. Our modelling suggests that a UK energy system (power, heat, transport and infrastructure) capable of -80% CO2e is likely to cost around £360bn in year 2050 (~2% of GDP) and will be based on nuclear, CCS (with fossil fuels and biomass), bioenergy, offshore wind and tidal currents to deliver affordable, secure electricity which will be heavily used to deliver low carbon heat and some transport as well as power. The cost of abatement is likely to rise very quickly above about -65% and we need to be sure the UK can afford to meet such a challenge within our shores before we rule out major international cooperative projects to develop global solutions for those last few %.

    • Well, I’m signing off for now, but as the debate will be open to everyone for comment until the end of the month, I’d like to leave a few thoughts for anyone who views any of the pathways above or decides to make their own:

      - the debate has highlighted the importance of developing a pathway that people will be happy to live with. As Mike’s response to Mark L demonstrates, the calculator shows that energy saving and reduction in demand will have to play a major part of any credible path to 2050. Pathways which incorporate greater energy saving, such as the one I chose, mean less infrastructure (power stations, pylons, pipelines, etc). Pathways which incorporate less energy reduction mean much greater changes to the natural environment. I think the best solution will lie in being smarter in how we use energy, being less wasteful, and in so doing, preserving the countryside and wildlife that make Britain special.

      - land use (and wider resource use, as noted by Nick below) is another theme which has come out of the debate, though it’s only partly captured by the calculator. One of the strengths of the revised energy calculator is that it shows the relative land use requirements of different energy options – though it does miss out fossil fuel and uranium mining which is a significant omission. I’d encourage anyone who submits a pathway to think about the land use implications of both demand – imagine the larger population of tomorrow travelling even further than today or the airport expansion arising from the doubling of flights assumed by the calculator – and supply.

      - I’d urge participants to resist the temptation to try to do everything in the UK (with caveats, as noted below, about bioenergy imports). I was rather surprised when my pathway turned out to have the second lowest level of primary energy imports, and I think this speaks to the fundamental interconnectedness of the UK energy sector. Energy security can be delivered through diversity and interdependence, not just domestic production. Particularly for renewables, I think there is a strong case to site these in locations where they are most effective – with concentrating solar power in southern Europe and North Africa and the majority of wind offshore.

      - there appear to be a number of no-regrets options arising from the calculator: efficiency and well designed interconnections being two which stand out to me. If there’s a wide range of agreement on these, I think this makes for a powerful argument to act now to deliver these.

  25. I was perhaps not stark enough. We have an economic choice. We can overcome irrational prejudice and beliefs, build as much zero carbon, sustainable, controllable and clean in emissions terms nuclear power as we need to meet our needs at today’s prices on existing sites connected to the grid – what our real competiton are doing – OR build “Alternativess” subsided by huge hidden taxes on the economy which can only fail to deliver even today’s power demand and require additional massive grid investment to accomodate, all to no point when their essential fossil backup is unavailable and uneconomic – because its so weak.

    This is all there in the DECC figures, and the corrorating RAE and OECD, etc. s’obvious. If you take the time to do the maths and can handle a little logical deduction for yourself vs. received PC.

  26. I have a big problem with an uncosted solution. Its pointless. We can’t afford to build expensive alternatives that can’t deliver, ever, and cost three times more that todays fossil and nuclear when using electricity will have to double and its 4 times the retail cost of fossil to do the same heatinh job, for example. Which bit of the economy is that coming from? Another 3x on top avoidably from offshore wind for example is barking mad. I’m leaving all the stupid ROC subsidies for weak and always will be real time solar derived energy out of this. Sufice to say there should be NO subsidies and the best zero carbon solution should be allowed to prevail, versus be legislated against on ideology alone by lobbies. That’s what happens when politicians egos let them think they can legisalate the laws of physics and economics.

    Physical fact. Its c.£0.5B per GW pa to produce wind power over nuclear for the 25 years the wretched thing pointlessly rotates – at DECC 2010 and RAE 2004 production costs .The cheapest power is nuclear and it can stay at today’s prices ‘ish and go stratight on the grid w/o the expensive modifications and extensions alternatives require, making the inadequate a much more expensive to spead it around the clock a bit. Don’t need to do that.

    We should build as much established 3G PWR as we can on fossil power sites already grid connected until there are no more coal of fossil plants left to replace. That way we get the cheapest zero carbon energy controllably, don’t prolong the life of pathetically weak “alternative” power’s essential fossil back up any longer than we have to, and the need for expensive conservation is also minimised. And we save 10′s of £Billions we plan to waste on alternatives to no benefit of any kind.

    We have enough fissile fuel to last a long time and can use Breeder and powered fusion conversion technology to make nuclear sustainable for the life of our species, and remediate the small amount of really nasty waste with the same technology.

    That’s what Asia and Russia are doing 132 1GW nuclear plants by 2030, Japan and Korea will be 50% nuclear by 2020, even little VIetnam plans 14. India just bought 10 from Russia. They are building PWR pressure vessel foundries all over.

    Because nuclear is the only controllable power source when fossil is gone (unless you include hydro). Game over. And its cheap, zero carbon, renewable and clean as far as emissions and uncontrolled waste are concerned. Far better than coal with or without CCS. Might as well get there as fast as we can, because nuclear is adequate at whatever level we care to use it and sustainable at today’s prices, guilt free.

    We are wasting time on hand wringing PC , indecisive political ignoramusses who fail to join up the DECC’s dots and “believe” in economically ridiculous alternatives ina technological economy.

    Its about the economy, stupid! The rational numbers on energy per £ and capability this debate leaves out altogether.

    I can get to where we need to be in 10 mins pretty much using conservative savings, expecting the end of fossil to force people of fossil through price, and maxing out nuclear and hydro alone.

    http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/4011111112141101121110042312022310210130321031011/sectors/3/primary_energy_chart

    More thorough approach re 2020 at:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1976309/A%20Rational%20UK%20Energy%20Policy.pdf

    Brian Catt CEng, CPhys, MBA

    PS Forget saving the Planet, that’s pure political ego and grandstanding. The UK is 2% of the global fossil burning emissions problem and already doing more than its bit. What we do to ensure energy sustainability for economic survival affects no one else much except the UK. We don’t matter on a global scale, but we could be part of solving their problem with nuclear exports, IF we revive the industry fast enough to avoid becoming a client state when we were first on the grid with the technology, and have NEVER had a accident in a production nuclear power plant…

  27. Gary Moran says:

    I think there is an unwarranted degree of wishful thinking that surrounds the climate change and energy debate, and much is in evidence in this blog.

    I do not believe there is a political mandate for action that would reduce economic growth, reduce personal prosperity, impinge on personal freedoms, or even causes undue inconvenience; such pathways should be considered unrealistic. Climate change is far down the list of peoples political concerns, and has not I believe been openly and honestly debated. I think most people see the action required as being minor: build some wind turbines, recycle, drive a Prius invest more in public transport; and politicians have failed to engage because the reality would be politically untenable.

    I believe any action must be: economically affordable, effective and realistic. There is too much focus on technical solutions that are far from proven at an industrial scale, usually for ideological reasons (environmentalists oppose nuclear, and look for alternatives regardless of maturity e.g. wind and CCS). We need “No Regrets” policies.

    Expectations that peoples behaviour can be significantly changed are wholly unrealistic, and amount to nothing more than wishful thinking.

    Appeals to carbon free power sources being cheaper in the longer term (say decades) is probably being too optimistic, coal and gas are likely to be far more competitive than low carbon for many decades.

    Arguments that conflate our oil dependence with low carbon power are disingenuous and are likely to be shown to be so.

    EV’s are not currently competitive with hydrocarbon fuelled vehicles, and may not be so for decades.

    Green jobs will only be a net positive where technologies reduce costs, and not as currently where they increase costs.

    Efficiencies will continue to increase, but these will increase growth and power requirements.

    Increasing power costs will not control behaviour but is likely to provoke a public backlash. Particularly if it is perceived politicians have mislead the public.

    Using what I believe are realistic (but probably still too expensive, e.g. option 4 nuclear), the best I can achieve is a 60% reduction.

  28. J Robnson says:

    My2050 doesn’t give you the option to reduce demand by reducing
    population size, changing building design to zero carbon, communal
    living, or using geothermal. There is no point in putting in options
    that require land mass use outside of the UK since that is not
    sustainable. Storing carbon below ground is eminently foolish since a
    breach would cause rapid destabilisation of the atmosphere instead of
    the gradual one we have now. Likewise using coal, gas and oil is
    unsustainable.

    The crux is population reduction on a global scale with the greatest
    cuts in those countries whose individuals emit most carbon in their
    lifestyles.

    If you are going to give us a tool to play scenarios with, then give
    us some credible options……not the business as usual ones, which
    clearly will not work.

    • Alan Clarke says:

      Another area where reduced demand doesn’t seem to be an option is personal transport. Over the last decade my household has reduced vehicle CO2 by pretty straightforward means. First a reduction in mileage owning to a modal shift to staying at home more. Then a progression from standard 80′s car through 90′s to modern efficient diesel – CO2/km reduced by 45%. Overall CO2 reduction about 65%. Batteries not included.

  29. Kevin Krause says:

    I work for utility regulatory agency in the United States. My wife is from Glasgow so I have the opportunity to travel to Scotland regularly. I am very appreciative of the debates and publications that I have encountered in the UK, and this 2050 pathways debate is no exception. I do not wish to steer the debate to a different country, but I will comment on the advantages and disadvantages that the United States presents.

    Advantages:
    More land for biofuels
    More remote land for onshore wind
    More suitable land for photovoltiac – SouthWest US
    A large supply of domestic coal
    An even larger supply of domestic natural gas
    (I call these advantages because of import/export issues, not because of carbon issues)

    Disadvantages: (mostly behavior)
    Too many passenger miles – long commutes
    Too much square living area per person
    Too much love for big cars and driving
    Inefficient city design – a factor of the above items
    NIMBYism – I believe it is worse here, even if it isn’t our government can not mandate the way others can
    Too much of a short-term focus at the expense of long-term planning
    weather – my winters are colder than Glasgow and the summers are hotter
    Transmission of remote renewables to demand loads

    Keep up the idea generation and the debate!

  30. Bill Shepherd says:

    I have just found this debate, so have only had a short time to skim some of the replies. I haven’t yet had time to study the proposals in detail or try out the calculator. I hope they will stay on the website for a few weeks at least.
    It seems to me that using less energy must be the first step – and that doesn’t just mean conservation measures – it means lifestyle changes too. There is no need for big cars and overseas holidays. We must eat more locally produced food too.
    If ‘carbon dioxide’ is the problem, then ‘low carbon’ solutions trump ‘renewable’ or ‘sustainable solutions’ in the short/medium term – certainly until 2050. Perhaps we should do away with renewables targets and concentrate on the emissions targets?
    I agree with Nick Jenkins on the need to become more electrical, with low carbon nuclear baseload, and coal/gas with CCS for backup. No more biomass – unless co-fired with coal, or used to produce biogas in a CCS enabled plant. Carbon dioxide is easier to capture from large point sources.
    But we must use the massive amounts of waste heat coming from these large stations – whether it is through district heating schemes, industrial process plants, or generating power from this low grade heat.
    Nuclear fission is a stop-gap technology, as uranium resources are finite, but given station lives of perhaps eighty years or more, and new nuclear technologies which can use today’s nuclear waste as fuel, they must be part of the solution to the emissions challenge. Hopefully fusion will follow on thereafter.
    Renewables should certainly make a contribution especially in rural areas, but work best along with storage. Pumped storage potential is limited and raises ecological issues ( Remember the Craigroyston proposal? – and Dinorwic costs rose from a projected £73m to over £400m in 1979!) But clearly there is massive storage potential in vehicle batteries, and the use of hot water heat stores in domestic properties (combined with Smartgrid control of top-up to fit with grid demand patterns, and appropriate pricing schemes. Heat stores can be tapped to take input from solar too).
    Ideally renewables should be used relatively local to where they are produced – with local storage where possible. Tariffs should encourage this. The idea of transporting vast quantities of electricity on super-grids over long distances is expensive, and unpopular, not to mention a waste of copper.
    Offshore energy has some potential, especially tidal which is more predictable. But, as a sailor with experience of the West coast of Scotland, I have learned the hard way how unforgiving the marine environment can be. It will be a big challenge, and it will be expensive.
    Personal experience with air source heat pumps suggests they are far too noisy, as are micro-wind turbines.
    Anyone who reads the yachting press, or listened to BBC Scotland’s Out of Doors programme last Saturday, will be aware of the limitations of bio-ethanol and bio-diesel.
    But there are other exciting technologies which need further consideration – underground coal gasification with CCS and geothermal energy (both using advanced drilling techniques from the oil industry), and alternative motor fuels (perhaps anhydrous ammonia?).
    Above all, if we are concerned about the financial legacy we are leaving our children and grand-children, we have to find the pathway that is lowest cost and I don’t think the model helps in this respect. It is going to cost more but I simply do not believe that the public is aware just how much will be added to their electricity bills if we carry on with ROC’s and FIT’s as at present, in the pursuit of irrelevant renewables targets.
    Let’s concentrate on low carbon solutions for the meantime, and if they are economic and renewable, then so much the better.

  31. Paul Steverson says:

    Hello again.

    I have spent another 3 hours trying to improve my selection of variables using your available options, (when I should have been working!) but there is often a huge section of “losses” visible under the “flows” tab even when I have achieved the 20% target. This cannot be sensible.

    I have an Air source heat pump and this winter it was useless during December when the outside air did not contain enough enthalpy for it to operate efficiently. Ground source heat pumps are often not practical or not economic except for larger installations. The power stations meanwhile reject masses of low grade heat which is wasted.

    The inclusion of a district heating scenario (or at least in combination with local heat pumps would improve the efficiency of Nuclear power plants or centralised fossil fuel/biomass electricity generators significantly. We live in a small country where the cities are not far (in global terms) from the centralised generators. E.g. Leeds is not far from Drax, Manchester not far from Heysham, London not far from Sizewell, Bristol not far from Hinckley Point. You see my point. How about including this option on the next software upgrade?

    • Paul,
      Blog responses dont go on the web in time sequence.
      Look back and you will find some numbers and info from me on the benfit and high COP of DH from nuclear compared to the electric heat pump option.
      Agree with you if we have to have nuclear then let it be Nuclear CHP to use the other two thirds of the energy normally rejected to the environment rejected on a more useful route via heating cities.
      William.

    • Alan Clarke says:

      We don’t have an air source heat pump – instead we have lots of insulation + airtightness. This worked perfectly well through December, and in fact appears more effective the colder the weather.

  32. Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

    I appreciate that this Pathways exercise is for establishing views on how to reach 80% C-reduction by 2050. Because we cannot be confident of meeting the EU Renewables target for all sectors by 2020, for the UK it is 15%, the Government has concluded that we must aim for 35% of our electricity by renewable sources. UK reached 6.4% renewable electricity by 2009 maybe 8% by 2010/11 when the target was 11.1%. A 35% target for 2020 seems unobtainable does it not?

    We must surely extend RO to all low carbon Nuclear and CCS etc., as soon as we can? CCS is being developed fast on the continent and elsewhere. The capture and storage of CO2 has been operating for the last 20 years on the Norwegian Sleipner oil field at a rate of 1million tonnes a year. It can be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a tremendous benefit for the UK depleting North Sea oil fields, before it is too late. The Government has launched another invitation for CCT/CCS demonstration projects, 4 in all, with the first one hopefully due to start in 2018, which is quite a challenge.

    Keith Clarke is absolutely right in saying “There is however a limit to what can be done off balance sheet and there will be additional costs.”. Presumably he means that we, the consumers are paying for this e.g., through the Renewable Obligation (RO) in our electricity bills. At present (2009) according to OFGEM it amounts to £12 per household for a total annual cost of the ROCs of £1.1 billion. However if you say that, except for exports, all goods, services and government costs (also incurring ROC costs), are passed down to each household eventually, then that cost at present is more like £41 per annum for 25 years or 8% of the average household electricity bill. What is the eventual cost likely to be?

    Like the Private Finance Initiative, the RO is building up costs for our children to pay over the next 25 years. One major energy consultant told me that 30GW of offshore wind will cost £17 billion a year for 25 years. This figure included RPI-inflated costs which the generators benefit from in the RO and a load factor of 45%, which is unlikely to be achieved. Early indication of the load factor for offshore wind is 34 to 35% (DUKES). Onshore wind, biomass and new 3rd generation Nuclear power will be more cost effective, around £80/MWh (£30/MWh above current market cost) according to an RWE spokesman, with CCS likely to be somewhat higher but lower than offshore wind, which requires £130-150/MWh, including 2ROCs incentive of £100/MWh.

    All this will hopefully come out in the EMR and later this summer will be included in the Pathways Calculator tool I understand.

  33. Assuming the climate of opinion about climate change has changed faster than the climate and we have acted upon that knowledge I imagine a world where we live in buildings that generate their own energy through the earth, sun and wind. This elemental energy is key to the survival of a world where we will need 50% more energy for the expected 9 billion people. Elemental energy is the future domestically.

    In 2050 our lifestyles will be green and we will look back wondering how we could have called ourselves so comfortably “the consumer society”. Did we not know that to consume meant “to eat, devour, destroy” did we not have the science to tell us that we were devouring the earth’s resources? Did we not understand that to call ourselves “the consumer society” was to describe ourselves as a planet hell-bent on self-harm?

    In 2050 we will hopefully enjoy our planet all the more knowing that we are bequeathing to our grandchildren a sustainable world which they in turn can enjoy.

    Welcome to the Conserver Society!

  34. David Thorpe says:

    Reducing demand is far more cost-effective than building new power stations. In this respect, Planning is one obstacle to be surmounted. The new Carbon Plan acknowledges this by saying, for example “The Government is committed to reducing carbon emissions from new buildings through successive changes to The Building Regulations and to enabling new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon from 2019.”

    But alongside this, the Government needs vigorously to retrain and motivate planning departments across the country to support low carbon designs, which all too often fall foul of petty objections. Furthermore, Building Controllers need to be retrained and motivated to properly police implementation of the environmental aspects of the Building Regulations and, if necessary prosecute offenders with the same rigour as is applied to Health and Safety breaches. No one has ever yet been prosecuted for a breach of Part L.

    The use of passive solar architecture for heating and cooling of buildings has huge potential. The utilization of solar gain, and standards similar to the ‘Passivhaus’ standard, can help to curb the rate of growth in demand for electricity for these purposes.

    But if we are going to build new power stations, then “renewable energy technologies are the only ones to offer a reduction of price rather than an increase in the future” [Arnulf Jäger-Waldau, PV Status Report 2008, Renewable Energy Unit, European Commission].

    I am concerned that the price of uranium will go up as global demand increases. Furthermore, its mining in places like Niger fuels conflict and environmental degradation.

    Renewables lack these and other drawbacks. But which renewables should we back?

    Predictable and reliable renewable energy sources must be encouraged over intermittent ones. Amongst these are the almost market-ready marine current turbines and anaerobic digestion. These are modular and so less reliant on huge capital projects like tidal barrages. The National Grid believes renewable gas from AD could form half of the grid gas supply in the 2020s.

    In most cases replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump would not result in carbon savings – only replacing electric heating.

    If the Government wants to get more carbon savings for its £££s it is far better spending its money on solar thermal than photovoltaics. A study [B. Croxford and K. Scott, Can PV or Solar Thermal Systems Be Cost Effective? London, 2008.] found that the costs of reducing overall carbon dioxide emissions using a solar photovoltaic roof are £196/tonne CO2, but for solar thermal individual systems are £65/tonne CO2 and for community solar thermal five times better at £38/tonne CO2.

    The new Carbon Plan is right to support distributed energy, whose benefits coincide with the ideology of the new Localism: local ownership, reduced transmission losses and greater efficiency. At too small a scale, however, the economy of scale is lost because of unnecessary duplication of system components such as inverters (house-by-house, instead of street-by-street).

    Renewable energy and building refurbishment at village, street or town scale therefore have a part to play in community regeneration, as communities come together to take responsibility for their own energy consumption and learn what it means.

    Consumers of energy also have a lot to learn about how their pattern of use affects overall demand, and how they can reduce their energy consumption. It is hoped as well that the rollout of the ‘smart grid’ can help to manage or smooth out peak loads and reduce overall requirements for generation capacity.

    • David, on uranium prices, a key difference between fossil and nuclear power plants is that the cost of nuclear fuel is a relatively small percentage of overall generation costs, and the cost of uranium is only part of the overall cost of nuclear fuel.

      Prices for uranium do vary significantly, like fossil fuels, but the impact on generation costs for nuclear power are relatively minor. In comparison, increases in fossil fuel prices, particularly gas, have a very big impact on overall generation costs.

  35. Cameron Dron says:

    @Nathan,

    There is a huge debate to be had about whether more growth is neccessary or not, for us.

    However, I don’t think there is a debate as far as poor countries go. They need growth to lift their populations out of poverty, and we have to account for this when calculating how much carbon we can pump into the atmosphere. Is this sustainable though? It depends where we draw the line. Any fool realises that perpetual growth that depends on resources is impossible here, but where is the cut off point? The next 10 years or the next 100? Considering that environmentalists have made so many false predictions about growth and the limits, I would find it prudent not to side with them in this particular argument.

    @ David Clark, if it is possible for there to be behavioural and societal change in the next 10 years, I firmly believe that it will be achieved not by painting the doomsday scenarios that many in the environmental movement so fervently believe in but by showing people that we can have a better, richer & greener world if we change from business as usual. And I don’t mean saying “recycling is cool”, I mean showing people a vision of the future that is positive; that is green, clean and rich. Society or people will only change if they think a better way is possible, not if they are told they have to because we think there might be disaster. That way clearly hasn’t got us very far.

  36. John Busby says:

    Mark Lynas

    Air source heat pumps are unsuitable for heating hot water as the temperature differential between the external air and the hot water is too high and the CoP is probably only <2 which cannot match an overnight Economy 7 tariff. An air source to air heat pump heating the room air at say 25C, might give a COP of 4. It can also double to give cooling in the summer when it can be fed with electricity from solar PV. As it can give cooling it doesn't get an RHI. It is generally recommended that heat pumps are associated with underfloor heating at say 35C or double the number of radiators.

    • Luke Collie says:

      True during a cold snap, but not otherwise. Latest heat pumps manage COP 3.1 for 15C outside, 65C hot water, dropping to COP 2.0 for -5C outside. See, for example

      http://www.transitionedinburghsouth.org.uk/node/122

      The theoretical limit is about 3.8 for -5C to +65C, so we might see 2.5 achieved. The major problem, as has been pointed out, is the high demand peaks in cold weather that widespread adoption of heat pumps would create. Huge improvements in insulation are needed first.

      • John Busby says:

        My latest electricity bill gives units at 14.75p and at 5.12p, which works out at 2.9. So for hot water an air source heat pump must achieve a CoP of 3+ on average to be an advantage over a cheap Economy 7 cylinder. With the economic meltdown of EdF in France, it now looks as if new nuclear build is unlikely, so it may well be that the Economy 7 tariffs, which were introduced because NPPs couldn’t be shut down at night, might be withdrawn.

        My recommendation for space heating/cooling is air source to air reversible heat pumps associated with solar PV. When the cooling is most needed, the sun should also be shining! At best an air source heat pump exchanger in a duct with outlet/inlet heat recovery exchanger with solar PV and top performance insulation and air tightness is in my opinion optimal.

        • Luke Collie says:

          Surely the correct comparison is with gas? For me, 10.5p electricity and 3 p gas means I require COP 3.15 to break even, assuming 90% efficient boiler, so it is marginal. Using economy 7 electricity at 6p I only need COP 2, so I will be well ahead most of the time on hot water, but then I’d be paying 15p for evening electricity, needing COP 5 for heating – no good. To make this work, you need insulation, and also heat storage for heating, to shift demand away from peak rate electricity. I’ve seen such a system in a new-built house of some friends in Germany, and it provided superb comfort despite sub-zero external temperatures. Likely impossible to retrofit to old buildings, however.

    • Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

      Mark – your generalisations on ashp are reasonably correct but, say, if you have a house with minimal insulation and then upgrade to present L reg standards, including cavity wall, you will reduce the heat demand and open up the use of ashp, best left on most of the time, and not oversized. Radiators may even be ok as they will be oversized now. Perhaps the main living room to have extra rad? A service manager of my old engineering company put in an Ecodan ASHP under his bedroom window for a house that he refurbished to best insulation standards and with underfloor heating. He has had very satisfactory heat and low noise performance. Because installers do not put in heat meters he cannot give performance data! Why does RHI not allow cooling mode? A bit short sighted is it not?

  37. Nick Jenkins says:

    Thanks to those who commented on my Pathway. It is projecting a more electric future without using gas for domestic heating. This is because of the difficulty of controlling emissions if gas is burnt in dispersed premises. The required 80% emission reductions are so dramatic that my approach was to use some fossil fuel in central installations with its CO2 sequestered. Then it really matters little in this modelling whether one uses gas or coal. The continuing use of oil/petrol (I assumed this is how the calculator works) comes from transport where I anticipated an 80% switch to electric vehicles. Even this level seems rather optimistic. Air transport and sea freight are really defined in the calculator, I made the most radical choice possible but agree with the authors of the calculator that dramatically reducing air travel and sea freight further is hardly realistic. This electric future will have a number of important consequences: Capacity (load) factors of generating plant will drop but already in the Electricity Market Reform Consultation one can see consideration of payment to generators for their ability to generate rather than only by output (capacity payments). Heat storage to manage peak electricity demand will be important as will other demand side measures including control of charging batteries of Electric Vehicles. However, if electricity is used as the energy vector from low carbon generation then its use will increase very considerably. Smart Grids will reduce the requirement for Transmission and Distribution assets but may not eliminate entirely the need for new circuits.

    • Nick I agree with you about the benefits of burning gas centrally with or without CCS and with COPs of over ten for low temperature heat networks you decarbonise the domestic sector more effectively than electric heat pumps with maximum COPs of 4.
      I also agree with your statement “It seems to me that we now need a meta-study to look at the earlier work and see if a conclusion can be reached and a way forward identified”.
      I do not think that the pathways type of model can do this as its inputs and outputs are not specifically targeted as an example to domestic sector heating. I think one needs to run a model evaluating the different network options to serve that specific sector. The networks under consideration are electricity gas and heat. How to optimise and link these networks to secure supplies and minimise CO2 emissions is I suggest your target.
      I am not sure that Markal used by CCC or the pathways model is up to the network optimisation task. When we were trying to optimise the way ahead for FSU countries with all three networks and different CHPs feeding into the same network as well as opportunities for other sources of heat from industry and decisions whether to invest in more insulation or a CHP with a better COP we found the models difficult to use. The optimisation of he heat networks and demand side was done outside the model and then the results were fed into the model.
      I think the nuclear CHP option feeding such a network should be evaluated for reasons I give later.
      We have suggest a scenario for peak load and stanby for wind of 20,000 dual fuel 500kW CHPs burning biogas and with a standby fuel of bio-oil. These would sit on the 415V LV side of the numerous 11kV to 415Volt transformers backing each other up and the network thought the 11kV rings common in the UK.
      CHP at a local transformer has benefits of control and active management compared to a multitude of smaller CHP units in every dwelling as it picks up the diversity of the electrical and heat loads.
      How many people know that whilst the electrical supply to a dwelling may be 25kW the diversified electricity supply from the transformer is less than 1kW?
      This piped heat networks not exclude either electric heat pumps or fuel cells they allow for either banks of small units, or larger units that are more effective. Where there are potential geothermal resources as an example Manchester the option of biogas engine driven heat pumps feeding a heat network is likely to be superior to electric heat pumps as the waste heat from the engine can effectively upgrade the geothermal heat.
      The option of Nuclear CHP feeding into a large heat network is also likely to be increasingly attractive with rising CO2 values. One of my team got a budget cost of £7,000,000 per km for installation of two-metre diameter water pipes that could carry the output of a 1GW nuclear CHP at Sizewell 140km to London.
      He estimated the output of the station at station 2,200,000 kW of heat giving a capital cost per kW of capacity to deliver heat to London of £450kW.
      Sums on the two-metre diameter line carrying 2200 MW of heat. Indicated a pumping load of 54 MW and the heat loss of 30 MW. Water leaving the power station at 95 C reached London at 0.1[deg] C higher at 95.1C. This occurs as pumping energy converts to heat due to pipe friction.
      Most nuclear sites are much closer to major conurbation heat load than Sizewell. Bradwell to London 84km, Hunterston to Glasgow 50km, Oldbury to Bristol 21km, Oldbury via Newport to Cardiff 47km, Cardiff Bridgend 27km, Bridgend Swansea 29km so Oldbury Swansea a total of 103km, Torness to Edinburgh 43km, Hartlepool to Newcastle 43km. Hartlepool Middlesbrough, Stockton, Billingham 10km, Heysham Liverpool 76km, Heysham to Manchester 77.4km.
      Theoretical COPs for heat from nuclear for two stages of extraction with a 75C Flow and 30C return are 14.3 and for three stages of extraction 15.7. Allowing for inefficiencies of say 10% then COPs of over 12 appear achievable offering a better use of electricity from nuclear than it use in a local heat pump with a COP of 2.5 to 4, depending on its type and the outside temperature or ground temperature.
      Nuclear CHP may be a lower risk option than piped CO2 transport and CCS with its uncertainties.
      London is likely to be the optimal location for long distance heat transport due to the size of its heat load. During the Sizewell enquiry when some of my team gave evidence to the enquiry for the GLC a coal, fired CHP was proposed to heat the London Borough of Southwark. It offered similar economic returns as Sizewell. I recall that during the enquiry I was told the CEGB expressed a view that it would be economic to supply heat from a nuclear station at Bradwell but not from Sizewell.
      A rough check on the amount of heat that might be met from nuclear is as follows.
      BRE work for 2006 domestic sector heating, estimates 424 TWh delivered split into 296 TWh for space heating and 128 TWh for domestic hot water.
      Option two in the pathways model for nuclear delivers 280 TWh of electricity, option three 630 TWh of electricity.
      If we use a heat to electricity ratio of say two as the nuclear cycle is relatively inefficient, then option two for nuclear could deliver 560 TWh of heat more than the total domestic sectors current demand for heat.
      Clearly, such a simplistic analysis cannot deal with the different load factors for heat and electricity but it does indicate how low carbon corridors for heat from Nuclear CHP might be developed in the UK.
      There are benefits from Nuclear pass out CHP as it can vary its heat and electricity output at times only producing electricity as effectively as any normal nuclear plant but at other times reducing its electrical output producing heat like an electric heat pump for times when there is excess input from wind. Heat storage, which is relatively low cost, is a further feature of such systems.
      I look at the COP for the CHP option from Nuclear and note a COP of 12. I look at a COP of electric heat pumps with a COP of four. I reason that to meet the heat load I need one third of the nuclear stations on the CHP route compared to an electric heat pump route.
      I prefer fewer nuclear stations on a CHP route compared to a domestic electric heat pump route, so please model it as part of the pathways work?
      We think CHP heat networks can be rolled out fast if they start from local transformers heating the area around the transformers you do not look for heat load you look for suitable transformer to install a factory made standard 500kW dual fuel CHP as there is normally a correlation between transformer locations and adjacent heat loads.
      It is the most economic way to install district heat as it removes uncertainty about consumption. You know what people are paying for their gas, oil, or electric heating so you know the revenue you will get as soon as you connect them.
      Domestic sector better load than offices as not much domestic hot water load
      No investment of pipe in ground waiting for someone to occupy the house.
      That is how the city of Odense was retrofitted with heat from DH and CHP.
      Certainly, we need to give more attention to the heat sector that is slowly coming out of the cold.

  38. Cassandra says:

    Apologies if my comments re. Induced Emissions appeared twice, I now understand there is an overactive spam filter at work. NB: when I tried the calculator on Friday and today,Monday, the Wind sliders had no affect – problems there too?

  39. Cassandra says:

    I don’t think any of the panel have understood the concept of induced emissions.
    For those not familiar with it:
    Buying a manufactured item costs embodied energy and CO2 emissions in the form of energy to produce the materials, transport them etc.
    But there is also an induced component – those who manufactured the item and the materials get paid, which they then spend on more goods which themselves cost energy and emissions. The work they did for their pay would not be there if the item had not been bought
    The quantity is significant – 0.2 to 0.3 kg CO2 for every £1 spent, regardless of what it is spent on.
    It makes a big difference to renewables – expensive PV (45p/kWh FIT) is much higher CO2 per kWh than big wind at 4p/kWh FIT)
    The PV has a much higher capital cost and the induced component adds another 2.5 years to the carbon payback period, while big wind’s payback period is very short anyway (typ 6 months) and is so cheap that it is almost unaffected by the induced energy component.
    This also applies to car / boiler scrappage – the materials can be recycled, but the usefulness of the old car or boiler is lost and a new one has to be made, costing induced emissions from the new work created.
    e.g. New car, 1000kg of recycled steel produces 700kg of CO2, but with a price tag of £15000, that’s 3750kg of induced emissions – more than 5 times as much as the embodied component.
    e.g. 2 – New boiler – 30 kg steel , 19kg embodied CO2, but 250 kg CO2 Induced.
    Low cost is low induced emissions.
    This applies also to infrastructure such as high speed rail through to geo-engineering and on to extracting uranium from seawater at tiny concentrations (typ. 1ppm)
    Using less energy is, obviously, zero carbon. Big wind is very nearly zero, but PV and high speed rail are far from zero carbon.
    If you are concerned about intermittency, remember your 3 pin UK socket is electrically connected to the whole of Europe and N. Africa. With an interconnector to Russia, it goes all the way to Vladivostock. I don’t see any intermittency or supply issues. Bring on the European Supergrid.

    Then there’s the CO2 “intrest rate”. The carbon cost of renewables is paid upfront, followed by nearly zero carbon operation. The extra CO2 increases forced warming from the start, so Siberian tundra is defrosted a bit sooner in spring and later in autumn and those bugs have longer to produce CO2 and methane – a positive feedback. Rapid payback in carbon terms is better

    A summary on Induced emissions:
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/175776/0086563.pdf

  40. Luke Collie says:

    Several panellists have expressed concern at the availability of sufficient biofuels. I agree that bio-captured carbon is likely to be a scarce resource, given the likely demand on agricultural land globally for increased food production, and the possibility that climate change impacts may be disturbing agriculture in some areas before 2050.

    Unfortunately, the model insists on throwing away much of the biomass in converting it to fuel. This loss is a consequence of assuming that the biomass-to-fuel conversion process is powered by energy from the biomass. This doesn’t have to be the case. Many of the pathways available tend to generate too much electricity, especially on windy summer nights but plenty of other times too. Using this to make hydrogen is included in the new version of the model, but that is only part of what can be done. The same processes that take the pyrolysis mixture biomass and make 2nd generation biofuels out of it will accept hydrogen as an additional input. Additional hydrogen shifts the balance to produce more useful fuel and less CO2. In the limit, all the captured carbon goes to fuel. This gives a factor of three improvement in the liquid fuel yield from biomass. The cost is a huge demand for clean hydrogen, and hence for electricity. It makes no sense to look at this in today’s fossil-fuel economy, but in a future where electricity is at least sometimes almost free, and captured carbon always valuable, it could help. It also helps balance the peaks in electricity demand. Hydrogen production, with some storage, balances the day/night peaking. Biofuel production can shut down in midwinter.

  41. John Barton says:

    My concern is with energy security and UK balance of payments.
    Reading Annexe C, pages 139 to 141 of the ‘2050 Pathways Analysis – Response to the Call for Evidence March 2011 Part 2’, of the 17 illustrative pathways:
    Most show the UK importing a lot of gas, up to 600TWh/year by 2050.
    All show the UK importing oil, increasing sharply to 200 or 300 TWh/year in 2020 and 100 to 500 TWh/year by 2050.
    Most show the UK importing a lot of biomass, up to 300 TWh/year in 2050.
    BUT most pathways show the UK as an exporter of electricity (up to 700TWh/year).
    Many show the UK as a net exporter of coal, but are we likely to get a good price for coal in a carbon constrained world, trying to compete with other coal exporters like Poland, Russia, Indonesia and Australia? I doubt it.

    However you run the model, in order to achieve the carbon targets, the UK becomes short of high-value fuels (oil, gas and biomass) and/or generates surplus low-carbon electricity for a some portion of the year. This leaves the UK exposed to price spikes of the fuels, and vulnerable to disruption of supplies just at the time when oil, gas and land for growing biomass become scarce globally. Just this week, the UK government is announcing a hurried plan to wean the UK off oil.

    Then who will buy our surplus electricity? This electricity will only be available for a portion of the year, at times of high supply and low demand for example when the weather is mild and windy. There will be significant correlation in weather conditions between the UK and our electricity trading partners. We are unlikely to get a high enough price to justify the building of interconnectors to export all of it.

    The solution to these problems is to turn electricity into fuel, first by electrolytic production of hydrogen and then by storing that hydrogen as synhtetic oil and gas. There are many ways to do this: hydrogenation of biomass, hydrogentaion of coal, and finally hydrogenation of carbon dioxide itself. The energy required to draw CO2 from the atmosphere is suprisingly small compared to the electrolysis energy to extract hydrogen from water. With the right R&D, electricity can be converted to hydrocarbon fuels at about 45% efficiency. There are many companies researching and demonstrating this technology: Carbon Recylcing International, Solar Fuels GmbH and Air Fuel Synthesis Ltd., yet the DECC pathways do not accommodate the surplus electricity-to-fuels option yet. There is a danger of the UK being left behind in this important technology.

  42. Alan Lamble says:

    Alan Lamble
    Most of us believe we need renewable energy, but only wind? I conceived an idea for a tidal/flowing water generator and sometime later I saw on the BBC news a similar device being trialled off the Orkney Isles.
    I started to become concerned about the lack of information available about these trials and of any new ideas, especially when it was announced that a wind farm was to be built at sea near the Isle of Wight, an area which has some of the strongest currents in England and where surely it would make Economical and energy efficient sense to combine wind and tidal as well as wave and sun when the location demands it.
    The design I envisaged would not damage the marine wildlife as much as a propeller would (as the Americans have used) and I hoped it would be suitable for sea, river or stream.
    Hopefully we will start to get some coherent informed decision making after this forum.
    I personally believe we should become as energy independent as possible but like you have a mix, including some new nuclear. It still seems to be one of the few reliable non fossil fuel means of propulsion for defence we have and the better we learn to handle it and use it the better.
    I agree with burning waste but a good PR program is needed.
    Nobody has mentioned sail, solid or canvas. We are still on an island so shouldn’t it factor.
    My last thought is that we should use what we have in abundance, natural resources obviously, but we have houses, roofs and roof spaces, roads and YES plenty of unused muscle power.
    If energy costs grow out of proportion how about starting a National Exchange Battery Service with Licensed Recharging Personnel. These would ride around possibly on push bikes going from home to home to anybody that needed it using the bike as a generator, recharging batteries. It would at least give some people employment.

  43. Douglas Wise says:

    I believe that Paul Severson (7th March, 10.34am) made some very valid points. However, his expressed concern over the risks of nuclear safety (raising the spectre of Chernobyl) suggests that he should study this subject in more detail. A Chernobyl-type design would never have been sanctioned in the West where the worst ever nuclear accident was at Three Mile Island (no associated deaths). While it might be plausible to argue that accidents are sooner or later bound to happen where there is scope for human error, it is also true that the consequences of such accidents
    can be contained to the confines of the plant due the very expensive engineered safety of current designs. Future designs, with more inherent safety features, will provide as much or more safety at less cost than current ones.

    The purpose of the calculator is to provoke consideration of the optimum route to a low emissions and energy secure future. It is not implicit in the calculator (or should not be) that energy use cannot or should not increase, only that we should wean ourselves off fossil fuels. In order to do this in a manner which will have least impact on society and the economy, we should choose the least cost method of generating easily dispatchable electricity and identifying the best ways of using it to displace fossil fuels. As far as transport is concerned, this may involve electric cars, more rail use, fuel cells or liquid fuels such as ammonia or yet other approaches. There is also a range of options to consider for the provision of stationary energy applications. However, surely the prime consideration must be the production of electricity which is both cheap and scalable. I would suggest that the only energy source that even has the potential to provide electricity more cheaply than coal is that provided by nuclear fission. I accept that it may not be considered sustainable in the longer term using current once through reactor technology which uses less than 1% of the energy in the fuel and rejects the rest as waste. However, there is more reason to suppose that that 4th Generation technology will be available within the next quarter of a century to close the fuel cycle, achieve sustainability and, simultaneously, to solve the public’s concerns over ” nuclear waste” than there is to believe that offshore wind, solar pv, wave, marine algal or carbon capture and sequestration technologies will either scale or be economically viable within an equivalent period. Meanwhile, I would suggest that current nuclear Gen 3 technology has the potential to provide the least cost and quickest clean supply route and its spent fuel will, in future, be available to be used by next generation reactors.

    This subject is covered in some detail in the cited presentation: “Advanced Nuclear Power Systems to Mitigate Climate Change” given at the 91st American Meteorology Society Meeting ( Blees and others, 2011). Internet access: http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/anpsmcc_25feb2011.pdf
    The article concentrates on the Integral Fast Reactor with metal fuelling,sodium cooling and pyroprocessing. This is the 4th generation design which is probably closest to commercial deployment. Potentially cheaper power could come from molten salt reactors such as the Pebble-Bed Advanced High Temperature Reactor. It was described by Professor Per Peterson at the September 2010 FHR Workshop at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (https//www.ornl.gov/fhr/presentations/peterson.pdf

    • Chris Broome says:

      This submission is general but responding in particular to Douglas Wise (March 7, 3.50pm). In an earlier entry, I urged that we need Pathways that we can be fully confident will work in practice because the bottom line is we need to avoid a climate catastrophe. We have been so reliant on fossil fuels for so long, that most of the technologies making up the supply side, are either new or else being scaled up. With any of these, there are all manner of unknowns to contend with, some of which may end up having massive effects. Remember that when nuclear power had been proven to be feasible and the first commercial stations were being built, there were predictions of virtually limitless, cheap power being on the way. Little attention had been paid as to how to decommission the reactors and dealing with the waste, which has proved difficult and costly. Right now we are still coming to terms with the prospect of being unable to produce enough sustainable biofuels even to reach current EU targets.

      I agree the potential of offshore renewables need to be carefully questioned. Detailed estimates of theoretical, technical, practical and economic potential have been made but are still dependent on some very ball-park assumptions. Taking windpower as the main example, there are technical challenges in building the infrastructure needed fast enough, including the turbines themselves, successfully installing and maintaining them and making connections to the grid. All this will have to happen in increasingly deeper waters further out to sea. Then there are transmission lines needed to carry the power to our towns and cities. Their visual impact will alarm anyone that thought that moving windfarms offshore would “save” our countryside. Some environmental effects are very difficult to assess. Offshore wildlife surveys have not yet been carried out to anything like the degree that they have on land. The RSPB have recently complained that no detailed surveys of birds and wildlife over and in the sea have been carried out because they have never been needed before – how much will turbines effect them?

      Having said all that, we should embark on an ambitious offshore renewables program, ensuring we carry out ongoing assessments of the environmental impacts and potential deployment level. Whilst I agree with Douglas that it is likely that advanced nuclear reactors will eventually provide cheaper electricity than offshore renewables, there is no way we should rely on a something that we hope will be commercially available within 25 years. Where does it leave us if the technology doesn’t work ?

    • Paul Steverson says:

      Hello Douglas
      In principle I am not against Nuclear reactors and am aware of the diffferences between the RMBK reactors of the soviet era and more ‘safe’ designs. The issue I am more worried about is other risks such as ‘stuxnet’ type attacks on nuclear installations by not so friendly states or 9/11 style attacks by suicide terrorists.
      This risk type does not apply to wind turbines as they are a more distributed power source.

      It is for this reason that I would not wish to wholly rely on Nuclear electric to reduce CO2 emissions. You can see my later post whereby the waste heat from these nuclear stations could be used more effectively than at present in a distributed heating systems using heat pumps if the grade of heat was too low. Improving the efficiency of the national system all helps to reduce overall CO2 emissons. This option could be included in your excellent modelling software to improve it further.

  44. Hi my Path for the future energy needs of the UK, this is to develop my Geo Genny gravity assisted gearbox, it will take 12 to 18 months to small scale prototype, then 2 years to full scale prototype, 1 year to run it and iron out any problems and improve it, after 4 years it should be ready to go into full production, with a payback in 4 years, the Geo Genny could replace most fossil fuel energy’s, at the same time hydrogen will be made clean by using the above, so we can power our transport systems as will, thus the UK can stand alone for it energy needs, as well as exporting the technology, al it will take is a bit of belief and a little bit of funding to start the clean generation in which the UK will be the worlds leaders.

  45. Hi my Path for the future energy needs of the UK, this is to develop my Geo Genny gravity assisted gearbox, it will take 12 to 18 months to small scale prototype, then 2 years to full scale prototype, 1 year to run it and iron out any problems and improve it, after 4 years it should be ready to go into full production, with a payback in 4 years, the Geo Genny could replace most fossil fuel energy’s, at the same time hydrogen will be made clean by using the above, so we can power our transport systems as will, thus the UK can stand alone for it energy needs, as well as exporting the technology, al it will take is a bit of belief and a little bit of funding to start the clean generation in which the UK will be the worlds leaders

  46. Rae says:

    The ‘peak heating’ issue seems important, as Duncan Rimmer points out. With 40 million households in 2050 and heat pumps having input power of 1.5 kW to maybe 5 kW, the existing winter electricty peak load of 60 GW could rise to well over 120 GW.

    A further difficulty is that many homes are currently heated to below average temperatures due to fuel poverty – insulation will increase comfort, rather than save energy in those cases.

    Ways to address peak heat might include;
    1) District Heating in the compact urban areas with heat accumulators to even out the daily demand. Building thermal power stations nearer urban areas would be important so that waste heat could be used.
    2) A preference for ground source rather than air source heat pumps. The ground is a good seasonal heat store. This would minimise the effect of reduction in CoP obtained from air source heat pumps as the outside air temperature drops (not sure if CoP reduction at low temperature is modelled in the spreadsheet?).

    • Cassandra says:

      Rae,

      There’s more frequent and stronger wind in the winter, and houses lose heat via draughts more when it’s windy (roughly a v^2 relationship, ref Pitot) while wind energy is a V^3 relationship. Bring on wind turbines / wave energy and the European supergrid to match production to demand.

      • Gordon says:

        This is disingenuous: there may be a higher output in winter, BUT the real world evidence, as NG have laid out in their winter reports, is that wind fails to deliver during periods of high load (settled, widespread, high pressure systems). December 2010 evidenced this.

        • Cassandra says:

          Gordon,

          You are taking a very narrow view. Weather systems (high / low pressures) are small, compared with the span all across europe, over the Urals and on to Vladivistock. It may not be windy on our tiny island, but it is elsewhere on the supergrid.

          • Cassandra says:

            …. Meanwhile my house (27m2 south facing glass, lots of insulation and mass) benefited from the clear skies – solar gain of 650 W/m2. No heating required, despite being below freezing for weeks and dipping to -13 deg C at one point.

  47. Matt Bleasdale says:

    The tool and subsequent Blog/discussion are a great step to engaging a wider group in an informed debate over the choices and challenges that face our society. It’s great to see that it’s structured by a small group of informed panellists proposing their own pathways, what I would find interesting is the risk analysis and costs of the pathways chosen.

    For example, with respect to feasibility, CCS hasn’t (yet) been demonstrated at the commercial scale however including it alongside onshore wind as an equally viable solution is quite happily seen to be as reasonable thing to do. While it may be that the technical issues are solvable everything comes at a price and that’s as much a fundamental as the need to abate carbon emmissions.

    Similarly it would seem from having a look at teh panelists solutions that more options were made available to them than to the public. I wasn’t able to manage items such as cattle and offshore biomass. In engaging people in the conversation it how feasible is it to open the more refined tool to those who have actively engaged in the debate to refine the crowd sourcing that modern communications is so good at?

    As a final piece of feedback it’s nice to have a blog to discuss the issues, however it’s not the most convenient form of discussing the complex issues at hand. When I joined the conversation there were already so many posts that reading them all is impractical. While filtering for key words works to find the subject areas where I feel able to comment just about works it’s not as slick as could be. Would it be possible to take the discussion to another level through the use of a forum so specifics can be discussed (eg. CCS viability, Nuclear supply chains, Offshore wind costs, agriculture, peak demand profiles, demand side management, distributed storage)? If so maybe somehting like the Halfbakery (www.halfbakery.com) is a good structure?

    Moving this conversation up a notch will allow us to engage and inform a wider public and decision makers alike.

  48. Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

    In answer to William Orchard’s question, the IMechE 2050 Energy Plan was published in September 2009 for the Copenhagen meeting. It is an engineering-based Pathways and for anyone interested can be viewed on
    http://www.imeche.org/knowledge/themes/environment/climate-change/copenhagen-conference/uk-2050-energy-plan

    It is being updated along with IMechE–led UK work on the European Future Climate Project
    http://ida.dk/sites/climate/sider/default.aspx

    Re CHP, in 2009 there was 5.7 GW (DUKES) of good quality CHP when the target for 2010 was 10GW. In 2000 it was just under 4.5GW when the target I believe was 5GW. The problem is the price differential of electricity with the price of gas for the heat, the ‘spark spread’. Even though it was favourable for the last few years, there has been very little increase in good quality CHP capacity. It is competing with independent 90% efficient condensing gas fired boilers for heating and with the average efficiency of electricity generation now over 41%. So it has become more difficult to justify CHP schemes much as I and others would like it! Micro chp may have a role in houses.

    Perhaps DH from Sizewell C would become economical if there was a CHP/DH Obligation like the Renewable Obligation that allows investors to benefit from electricity prices 2 to 3 times the current wholesale cost of generation, and RH heat incentives to come. Better than DH heat from Sizewell C could be heat pumps taking heat from the Thames to heat bordering buildings such as Parliament, Whitehall, RICS, ICE and IMechE HQs, Canary Wharf etc.,

    I agree with ‘rural energy’ on EST trials of heat pumps but those trials just showed up poor design, installation and commissioning of many of the units in the UK compared with countries like Sweden and Germany. UK must improve its training of engineers for new technologies. There is a major benefit of heat pumps in that as electricity becomes decarbonised so does heat pump heating. Gas fired heating still emits the same amount of CO2.

    • Rural energy user says:

      You fail to allow for the fact that some systems reduce CO2 75% or 85% *now* (not 2030) per unit of heat. Here, out in the sticks, try retrofit solid wall insulation, LPG condensing boiler (more secure than oil, it increasingly comes from gas wells, although the OFT should regulate the price, cf piped gas) and a large solar system supplying around 5,000 kWh/yr or 60% or more of a reduced heat demand. Cost of solar system about £3,500 if done en masse (already available in Denmark). Boiler, £2.5 k. Result of fitting a more efficient heating system and cutting heat demand = around 90% less CO2 in the short term and no electric grid to crash because of the extreme peaks caused by electric heat in cold weather.

      Elec heat pumps make CO2 emissions worse now by increasing elec demand, an increase met largely by running existing gas and coal plants, not turning them off. They don’t improve matters until/unless this notion of total decarbonisation comes true. In my view to plan on doing this by 2030 is a dangerous illusion in the same category as the UKAEA ‘s 1976 energy scenarios. Those “long term plans” foresaw the UK being an “all-electric (mostly nuclear) economy” by 2025 – well here we are in 2011 and none of it has happened. The economics were and are dismal and the scarce resources (e.g. capital) devoted to it should be redeployed to other technologies where £1 billion of spending avoids the emission of 10-20 x more CO2.

      I suggest the COPs recorded in Switzerland (the first country to install heat pumps) of 3.3 for grd. source and 2.75 air source heat pumps are near the realistic limits, even if none of the poor systems studied by EST are ever repeated. So in built-up areas where most people live why not install heat pumps with a COP of 12? (a.k.a. use the waste heat from CCGTs with distribution temperatures in the DH of 75 C flow 25 C return). That can be decarbonised by 2050 through growing use of renewable energy to heat the DH water; e.g. biogas CHP, solar heat, geothermal heat, industrial waste heat etc.

  49. David Gant says:

    Those who doubt the reality of manmade global warming are very dismissive of long range computer modelling. While the DECC Pathways model is a great educational tool I suggest your experts do not present any ‘preferred pathway’ using it. Better to use the term ‘illustrative pathway’.
    There is always a danger of believing in computer models, the only certainty about 2050 is that it will be different from anything modelled today.

  50. Chris Broome says:

    I want to see a pathway that relies more heavily on better established technologies, combined with safer estimates as to how they will scale up. What I find really striking is that 2.5% annual growth in GDP is an assumption that no Pathway is allowed to stray from. (OK, some parameters need to be fixed to keep the models simple but zero-growth could be what it takes to achieve what I am looking for). Climate science shows clearly we are in a crisis situation so achieving this growth should not be a pre-requisite whilst we find a solution. The future welfare of humanity has to be valued more highly -if an enemy army was gathering on the other side of the channel, would David Cameron be rallying us all with “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall achieve 2.5% annual growth and we shall never surrender!” ?

    The difficulty is to sell this idea to a public sceptical about the need for action on climate change. I believe we should stick firmly to patiently explaining the situation as the genuine experts – climate scientists – see it. Then that the implication of their current understanding is surely that anything other than a very reliable method of rapidly reducing our carbon emissions – and in practice, our energy usage – would be very reckless. Mark Lynas says that he has been engaging with the public for ten years and believes serious energy use contraction isn’t realistic. Perhaps he is overlooking that public opinion and behaviour has changed more since around say 2007, when we started to witness more extreme weather events. Added to this, the instability in our financial system has shown itself so disruptive to ordinary people’s lives, there is now increasing interest in more localised, cohesive and sustainable communities. All the panellists need to take a little time out from all the technical documents I am sure they get immersed in and read the books recommended in the blog of 3 March by Nathan Surendran. In essence, they are about how we need to start focusing on developing our societies, rather than economies.

    I would add that I find Mark Lynas’s Pathway the most terrifying of a bunch that all have obvious potential pitfalls. What would we do in 2020, if we found that there were all manner of difficulties and delays with implementing CCS and public attitudes towards lifestyle changes had not moved any further?

  51. Helena Wright says:

    My question is, is DECC researching the impact of different energy strategies upon food security?

    We know that biofuels were one of the drivers of the food crisis of 2008 and that rising food prices have contributed to current instability.

    The 2050 Pathways Analysis Report itself states that above 350 kha of bioenergy production there could be an impact on food production (Reference No. 203). Yet in the My2050 simulation, the minimum level of bioenergy is set at an area half the size of Wales, which is about 1036 kha. Shouldn’t there be an indicator that shows “food security” as well as “energy security” (as the two are interlinked)? Perhaps there could also be a policy lever to promote reduces demand for meat, although this may be controversial. I hope this important issue can be considered further.

    • Mike Childs says:

      this is a very good point. One reason why the pathway I proposed excluded imports of biomass is to prevent us using land that others need for food security. On UK land-use change more research is needed on how we could use land IF meat and dairy consumption was reduced by around 50 per cent. Sme would surely be used to increase the proportion of food and animal feed produced grown domestically and reduce imports. If you did this I’m not sure how much land would be left for biomass production (hopefully some)

    • Chris Broome says:

      Hello Helena,

      Here is a war-weary campaigner’s “unofficial” answer to your posting (March 7, 11.34am). The situation is still messy with three Government departments and the European Commission involved. The EC issued a Renewable Energy Directive that sets targets for renewable energy and biofuel use in vehicles. All the member countries must comply and it decrees that biofuels such as palm oil are sustainable provided, amongst other things, they are not grown on land that has been deforested within the last few years. The crucial problem that remains is indirect land use change (iLUC). Because of shortage of suitable land, suppliers of food for poor people are left having to chop down the rainforest in order to grow oil palms. This process releases stored carbon dioxide. DECC’s role is to incentivise all “renewables” and to this effect, they pay a premium for biofuel electricity (in the form of “ROCs”). In July, they responded to a consultation which had attracted many responses from environmentalists and conceded that, whilst they would still pay subsidies (ROCs) to biofuel electricity suppliers, they would not guarantee to maintain these long-term. So at least it makes developers think twice about investing in new biofuel power stations. Then in January, the EC consulted governments on sustainability criteria and the UK said “For some biofuels iLUC poses a risk to achieving GHG savings compared to the use of fossil fuels.” This effectively acknowledges there is a problem but our Government will still not change its policy until the EC researches the subject and moves first. My advice is to keep campaigning on the subject – Biofuelwatch have an excellent website with suggested actions. It also describes how we are using completely unsustainable quantities of wood for biomass, incidentally.

      • Kate de S says:

        Hear hear Helena. I’m scandalised that imports of biomass are thought of as any kind of ‘solution’ – as indeed I am scandalised by the notion that exporting manufacturing emissions is any kind of solution. A screaming example of a target undermining a result – unless someone has devised a way of insulating the UK from the effects of CO2 emissions from outside our borders…..

  52. Paul Steverson says:

    I am a bit of DIY green guru (having been a jetsetter in a previous life and seen the error of my ways). As background information, I am a chemical engineer.

    I have installed hot water solar panels at my house and also a woodburning stove in the kitchen and grow my own vegetables, I am a member of the woolie jumper brigade. My latest foray into being a bit greener is to order an electric car- although I must admit this has something to do with government incentives.

    The problem is that all these efforts make next to no difference in total carbon emissions; the big decisions like building 15 nuclear power stations, investing in wind turbines offshore, and maybe a modified Severn barrage as a much larger pumped storage scheme are required to be taken for me by government or big business.

    I entered my choices in the calculator on the basis that offshoring the electricity generation or offshoring the growing of Biofuels abroad was not acceptable since we are trying to solve a global problem. in 2050 it is likely that food supply will be a critical problem and biofuels are going to exacerbate this issue. Our countryside is beautiful and I would rather not destroy even more of it with wind turbines.

    This leaves even less options. We need to keep manufacturing industry to generate jobs for the population.

    Nuclear power is OK with respect to CO2 and is generally reliable but carries other risks – sic Chernobyl. Therefore I limited the number to 15 stations. The installation of masses of offshore wind, tidal and wave increases the availablilty of electricity, but supersized pumped storage using a modified Severn barrage will be required for those windless days in mid winter. CCS is always going to be very expensive and inefficient use of resources, even though we have access to depleted oil fields; oil and coal will be required for chemical feedstocks not energy generation.

    I am of the opinion that price squeezing is the mode of control for carbon (as most C, D, E, socio-economic groups will not care enough to turn down their thermostats unless they are forced to do so). The government will have to make the big infrastructure investments e.g. electrify the rail network and the motorway network for long distance trucks & coaches. Electric cars will always be somewhat limited in range by the chemical limitations of batteries when compared with the fabulous energy density of diesel fuel, so some oil fueled cars will still exist for the wealthy in society, (but they had better be prepared to be disliked by the converted) – A bit like smokers nowdays!!

    This biggest problems to be overcome are none of these however, because it is a global issue we have to resolve the issue of too many people. The UK can comfortably sustain ~ 20 Million people, India, China ~250 million each, The USA ~100 Million, rest of Europe ~ 100 million. The issue of how we reduce the population when the goverment is addicted to growth, (it’s debt can never be paid off unless growth continues). We are closely approaching the point where a controlled organised reduction of population will not be possible and the mode of reduction will be chaotic and very nasty. The Chinese one child policy has had unforseen consequences, but at least they tried. We in Britain are not an island- (well we are,)- but that will not insulate us from global catastrophy. The greenest solution is to have fewer children + all of the above choices.

  53. David Anelli says:

    On opening the web tool to view Nick Jenkins’ pathway I was extremely disappointed to find that the problem of supply not matching suppy has not been fixed. Unfortunately this undermines the validity of the pathways presented, or at least makes it very difficult to follow what is proposed. As well as the rather fundamental issue of matching supply and demand on an annual basis there is the need to match it at peak. It looks as if Nick Jenkins has cleverly got around that shortcoming by over-sizing the electricity supply, so most if not all of the “over-generation / export” will actually be idle time on CCS plant – which means that the emissions from this pathway are actually lower than the calculator shows.

    This brings me to a first comment on the pathway itself: how realistic do you think it is for CCS power stations to be doing peaking duty, some achieving load factors of only 10-20%?

    This is going to be an important consideration in this pathway because the almost universal use of heat pumps, especially air source, and electric vehicles will create some very high electricity demand peaks. What role do you see for demand side management and what technology will facilitate it?

    There are also significant infrastructure cost implications here in network reinforcement.

  54. Rebecca Ward says:

    I had a ‘play’ with the web tool last night and was struck by how difficult is was to achieve the 80% reduction without using carbon sequestration. This was using what seemed to me to be pretty demanding and optimistic demand reduction strategies. The only other way to do it seemed to me to be to increase the amount of land dedicated to bioenergy without having any biomass power stations. Is this not the same as returning land to woodland, without burning it? Great for the environment. Or have I missed the point on this? I’d be interested if anyone can put me straight.
    Thanks,
    Rebecca

  55. Rebecca Ward says:

    I had a good ‘play’ with the web tool last night and it struck me how difficult it was to make the 80% required reduction without using carbon sequestration. This was using what seemed to me to be very demanding and optimistic energy demand reduction strategies. The only other way to do it seemed to be to increase the land dedicated to bioenergy without having any biomass power stations. I’m not an expert on this, but isn’t this scenario the same as returning sections of land to woodland – great for the environment. Can someone explain where I may be missing the point?
    Rebecca

    PS At the risk of being controversial and in response to Mark Brinkley’s comment, if we are going to make the severe changes to the domestic energy demand, such as electrification of all cooking, reduction in house temperatures etc., we are going to have to get the ‘homemakers’ on board – who even in this day and age are predominantly female.

  56. Mike Childs says:

    A very interesting set of posts since I last visited the blogs. I sense there is a degree of scepticism on how well the theoretical demand side actions will work in practice, whether the public will accept lots of behavioural change, and even if the all the supply side options are all they are cracked-up to be. That said there seems to be much more optimism about the supply-side including options which some are saying DECC have not properly considered. There is still that nagging challenge about how we cover very cold windless winter spells practically in an economically sensible way.

    One of the very first blogs posted said that we can’t really guess what technologies may be available post 2030 for either demand or supply. I think this series of blogs is tending to reaffirm that view.

    In my view in the next 10 years we should simply move as fast as we can on demand management and on rolling out the low carbon supply technologies that are already proven. During this period we need significant investment into the promising technologies for the 2020s and 2030s (e.g. marine renewables). We should also invest heavily is R&D in energy storage solutions and geo-sequestration.

    By 2020 we will be much clearer on the climate science (including whether we have already or are extremely likely to exceed important tipping points), and we should be much clearer on the technologies that are most likely to provide low cost low carbon energy (as long as we start serious R&D funding now).

    Moving fast now is a no regrets policy, taking it easy over the next 10 years in the hope that some magical solution may appear seems to me a high risk strategy (although exactly what the EU is likely to announce on Weds).

  57. Mike Childs says:

    A very interesting set of posts since I last visited the blogs. I sense there is a degree of scepticism on how well the theoretical demand side actions will work in practice, whether the public will accept lots of behavioural change, and even if the all the supply side options are all they are cracked-up to be. That said there seems to be much more optimism about the supply-side including options which some are saying DECC have not properly considered. There is still that nagging challenge about how we cover very cold windless winter spells practically in an economically sensible way.

    One of the very first blogs posted said that we can’t really guess what technologies may be available post 2030 for either demand or supply. I think this series of blogs is tending to reaffirm that view.

    In my view in the next 10 years we should simply move as fast as we can on demand management and on rolling out the low carbon supply technologies that are already proven. During this period we need significant investment into the promising technologies for the 2020s and 2030s (e.g. marine renewables). We should also invest heavily is R&D in energy storage solutions and geo-sequestration.

    By 2020 we will be much clearer on the climate science (including whether we have already or are extremely likely to exceed important tipping points), and we should be much clearer on the technologies that are most likely to provide low cost low carbon energy (as long as we start serious R&D funding now).

    Moving fast now is a no regrets policy, taking it easy over the next 10 years in the hope that some magical solution may appear later seems to me a high risk strategy (although exactly what the EU is likely to announce on Weds).

    • Neil Crumpton says:

      Mike,

      I noticed your reluctance to include coal or gas CCS in your scenario but interestingly your potential support for geo-sequestration.

      My view is that the UK should aim to build a ‘CARBON-NEGATIVE’ energy infrastructure not least as the Tyndall Centre is now saying 4 C rise is possible after the recent weak climate ‘agreements’ at Copenhagen and Cancun.

      Such an infrastructure would enable the integration of massed intermittent marine renewables, with load-following low-carbon coal and gas in the short to medium term, and would go well beyond (below) zero carbon (beyond plutonium – ‘go BP’) IF or as sustainable sources of biomass become available. Note that nuclear pathway would tend to lock-out the carbon-negative potential of a CCS-based pathway.

      CCS demos and infrastructure are needed asap as initially coal and gas schemes will be needed to back-up the very large-scale marine renewables capacity you and I would like to see built – I reckon maybe 200 GW mainly offshore wind generating about 700 TWh/y or about half UK future final energy demand for 70 million people. Well anything like 200 GW of intermittency would need huge back-up for winter windless days which ever way one looks at it (even with major roll out of city-wide CHP / thermal stores and heat pumps).

      The CCS infrastructure (especially multi-fuel fuel cell power stations fueled initially by hydrogen from coal and gas) could then progressively convert to hydrogen produced from biomass (eg desert algae) and even electrolysis (using peak RES) as such sources became available.

      Sustainable biomass at large-scale is key in my view and would enable significant carbon-negative energy generation (ie biomass CCS or BECS).

      I hope that FOE puts in some support for algae-oil and food production in Earth’s abundant deserts using solar seawater desalination techniques (even current desert technologies can address the ‘Perfect Storm’ in my view eg CSP and Seawater Greenhouse with algae and aquaponics). An equivalent desert area of about 25 % of Australia may be needed, on current algae yields, to provide more than sufficient algae-energy for serious geo-sequestration.

      The ‘capture’ side of CCS is actually well proven and the energy costs of latest techniques are pretty minimal. Highly cost-competitive direct air-capture technology may also make an appearance soon (DACS).

      So its more a question of the risks of geological storage around the world at large-scale compared to above 1.5 – 2 C rises in global temperatures. Even given some leakage from some sites over the years, which would very probably have absolutely minimal safety impacts, would be a very small price to pay when measured alongside the global devastation of a 2 – 4 C rise.

      The UK should demonstrate CCS as a way of showing and giving global leadership on climate change – and supporting desert-based food and algae technologies (eg supporting demo projects in Egypt and Tunisia – new sustainable trade with hopefully new sustainable democracies) would also help identify to what degree carbon-negative energy generation or geo-sequestration could play how quickly in out-manouvering the coming ‘Perfect Storm’. I believe we have sufficient technology now and even more by 2020 to provide a way – but it needs a big vision from civil society and politicians to generate the will. While nuclear is a distraction which should be discarded, renewables alone are not now enough, carbon-negative technologies are needed.

      Neil Crumpton (ex FOE energy specialist and very long-serving supporter)

  58. Helena says:

    We urgently need an integration of agriculture into the 2050 calculator. Food security has not been considered; and the priorities of agriculture must not compete with biofuels. If food prices are pushed up, millions of poor people in developing countries could starve and instability could be triggered (just like the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt). Food security must be considered; the planet will have to feed 9 Billion people by 2050, as oil prices skyrocket (with direct impact on agriculture), groundwater resources shrink due to climate change, and phosphate resources for chemical fertilisers are depleted. We will surely need more land for sustainable agriculture, not less.

  59. Helena says:

    Pretty concerned about the use of biofuels. It is widely recognised by the UN and FAO that biofuels were a leading cause of the 2008 food crisis. Millions of people could go hungry; also considering the fact that we will need more agricultural land to grow food once finite reserves of phosphate (for chemical fertiliser) are depleted in the next 50 years. As oil prices increase; we will need to grow more food locally rather than turn this over to biofuels. There seems to be a divide between the aims of DECC and DEFRA. I hope the next version of this calculator can incorporate agriculture!

  60. Euan Mearns says:

    Comments on Nick Jenkins’ pathway:

    Nick,

    1) Nuclear normally accrues as indigenous primary energy (see for example BP stat review) since the cost of U imports is normally <3% of total system cost. So the 54% figure for imports is a bit deceptive (I couldn't understand it at first). I'm guessing this is embedded in the calculator and I would view this as an error that should be fixed.

    2) Are you aware that the UK spends net >£5 billion per year on food imports and with global food prices currently escalating (on the back of energy prices used to create food) this situation seems set to get worse.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/files/uk_tradebal_ener_prod.png

    In this context I am concerned about any pathway using large amounts of energy crops, biomass and forest and believe the UK government should as a matter of urgency set a goal for the UK to become self sufficient in food production. Using waste bio matter is acceptable if it is shown to have large positive energy return.

    3) On the Sankey diagram you show roughly 25% energy loss during processing – seems optimistic but OK. Where do you show the energy inputs to growing, harvesting and transporting the bio crops? What energy return on invested value (ERoEI) is used? I have been asking David Mac this question for many months now and never get a reply. In a world where everything is supposed to add up such an important new way of using energy – i.e. growing vast quantities of bio crop, cannot be ignored.

    4) In bpd, what is UK oil production in 2050?

    5) In bpd, what are oil imports running at and where are they coming from in 2050?

    6) What is UK nat gas production in 2050? Can you explain why you show oil imports but no nat gas imports? My own view would be that oil available on the international markets for import may disappear long before 2050 but some nat gas may still be available from Russia.

    7) Back of envelope calculation suggests you have about 100 GW of wind on the system. I am skeptical that 4GW of pumped hydro, a trickle of H production and 10GW of interconnection will manage to balance this system. The 10 GW of interconnection may seem large, but with pan-European lulls, many countries will be seeking to use storage (Norway and Alps) all at the same time. One of my own models I’m working on at present has 3.1 GW of storage in Scotland alone by 2020 and in terms of security of electricity supply I believe the UK may need a highly ambitious plan to expand pumped storage in areas such as Wales, The Lake District and Scotland preferably using large lakes / lochs as the lower reservoir.

    8) Do you really think that wave machines will ever be able to withstand the ravages of Atlantic storms? I am more optimistic about the prospects for tidal stream generators, though environmental concerns will always be there. Would it not be easier to just build another nuke? These trickles from wave and tidal seem like window dressing.

    I think your pathway actually has quite low energy imports which is a major plus. I believe you probably need more thermal power generation to help balance all that wind and as already mentioned much more storage. More storage may actually provide commercial opportunities for electricity exports at premium rates.

    Dr Euan Mearns
    Honorary Reserach Fellow
    University of Aberdeen
    Editor at TheOilDrum

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Don’t know if other bloggers are having same experience as me here? My comment to Nick Jenkins has appeared out of place, corrupted, about 24 hour after I wrote it. Think I’l give up:-(

      • admin says:

        Please accept our apologies Euan. An over zealous spam filter and then some technical issues delayed the publishing of a few comments, one of which was yours. We’re watching out for the problem now, so there should be no more delays hopefully (other than if something is posted late at night and then it will be published first thing the next day). Please do continue to contribute.
        Kind regards
        Debate Moderator.

  61. Sue Roberts says:

    Yes to all the energy-use reduction and green energy production. But why are we not protecting our land?

    We abhor the clearance of rain forest but gleefully set about building new towns and extending existing towns and villages. These all encroach upon land that is vital to attempt to sustain what remains of Britain’s ecosystem.

    Extending the built-environment follows the desire we have for growth (economic embedded in structure) and has (I suspect) nothing to do with housing need. All that ‘growth’ and investment should go into ecorenovation.

    • What about the role of gas? It’s being airbrushed out as part of the problem, but it may well have a vital role to play in the coming years. It’s relatively clean (compared to oil and coal and even biofuels), it’s cheap and plentiful and it’s also cheap and quick to construct gas-fired power stations.

      It may be a much better bet to move the energy economy even further towards gas in the years up to 2030 or so, thus giving much more time to switch everything to other sources.

      It worries me that the the move towards electrifying everything is going to happen too quickly and is going to result in an unmanageable grid within a few short years. Intermittent supplies from wind turbines, combined with demand surges from electric heating spell trouble ahead, and the longer we have to implement these new supplies, and to satisfy the new demands, the better.

      It would be interesting to hear what Duncan from National Grid thinks about this. Are we facing blackouts in 2020? Or is the transition going to be smooth and painless?

      • Duncan Rimmer says:

        Mark, first of all sorry for the delay in responding but I missed your question. The points you make are extremely valid and are generally consistent with issues we have raised as part of the wider debate over the last 18 months. Gas has an important transitional role to play in reducing emissions (by displacing/replacing closing coal plant) but is also the cheapest form of generation. As the analysis Redpoint undertook for the ENA (Energy Networks Association) clearly showed gas also has an important role to play in the future whether for generation with CCS or biomethane in the home or industry.

        The points you raise about electricity distribution networks are also very important because if we move towards high levels of heat and road transport electrification then the distribution networks would need to be around 3 times bigger (even allowing for smart technologies managing the peak demand) and to do this cost effectively would be in one or two tranches rather than incrementally. Unfortunately, the current regulatory framework doesn’t allow this type of anticipatory investment so regulation will need to change to avoid digging up the road several times.

        With regard to potential blackouts or more realistically brownouts (i.e. the lights dimming) gas stations will have to bridge the gap between existing coal and oil stations closing due to environmental legislation or lifespans until new nuclear or sufficient diverse renewables are in place. There should be enough gas plant around to do this unless they are forced to close through additional legislation or economics. Picking up on Dustin’s point about locking in emissions in to the future, yes that is a risk, and certainly it wouldn’t be cost effective to retrofit gas plant with CCS if they were going to operate with low load factors. However, if the new plants are “carbon capture ready” and are sited close to proposed CO2 networks and legislation enforces retrofitting then assuming they operate with higher load factors then they could provide cost effective low carbon energy.

    • This is a great question – and highlights the fact that land use is a major factor in emissions, both directly (though sustainable land management which locks carbon into soils or through the production of biocrops) and indirectly (building towns that aren’t walkable or accessible by public transport is a recipe for ever greater emissions). One key part of a pathway to 2050 will be an effective planning system which encourages the contruction of high quality, walkable cities and towns – a summary of the benefits of this approach is outlined in a recent CPRE publication called the Proximity Principle (http://bit.ly/geTqvj).

      • It seems that the commenting system has gone somewhat awry – my point about the ‘good question’ above was in response to Sue Roberts’ question about land use.

        As to Nick’s point about gas, the worry is that building lots of gas plant now locks us into a much higher emissions pathway in the future. Gas fired power stations will be around for far longer than we will be able to use them for if we want to avoid dangerous levels of emissions – unless they’re fitted with CCS, which as a number of commentators have pointed out, have uncertain economics, especially when retrofitted. Duncan can probably advise in more detail than I can on the interaction between wind and heat pumps, but it’s quite clear that we will need demand shifting and smart grids to handle these challenges.

  62. Rural energy user says:

    I repeat my question. Why when ~85% of energy supplied is needed for heat or transport fuel, are we planning electric transport and electric heat? The former will greatly increase the price of a car, given projected future future battery costs, and will make the second hand car market unviable. Synthetic fuels from electrolyic H2 would have a lower capital cost overall and would help to get us off oil by 2040, not delay the process further by absorbing capital to explore blind alleys. (They would also deliver greater security as fuel can be stored indefinitely, electricity cannot.)

    Electric heat is more costly than following Denmark down the road of heat distribution. They have been cutting CO2 more successfully than us and expect to be off fossil fuels by soon after 2030.

    Such schemes as this
    http://www.solarthermalworld.org/node/766
    http://www.fremtidens-fjernvarme.dk/pdf/Water.pdf
    do not seem to be wtihin the scope of the UK model. In Denmark, low-density suburbia is heated by CHP and increasingly by renewable heat. DH done the right way is not a city-centre technique, but it is seen this way in the UK by commentators who do not appreciate the progress with the technology and by small ESCOs who are given a tilted playing field on which to operate by the government and so can only make CHP pay in the most extreme cases of high heat density (such as east London).

    It is useful to know that Denmark is now replacing its gas pipes (35% of its gas is used in housing and this is regarded as a waste of a high grade fuel) mainly by heat networks and a smaller extent by ground source heat pumps – not air source, as these do not work well at -15 C, a temperature which both Denmark and the UK occasionally experience.

  63. Mike K says:

    In answer to William’s question, the IMechE 2050 Energy Plan was published in September 2009 for the Copenhagen meeting and is on

    http://www.imeche.org/knowledge/themes/environment/climate-change/copenhagen-conference/uk-2050-energy-plan

    It is being updated along with IMechE-led UK work on Danish-led the Future Climate Project

    http://ida.dk/sites/climate/sider/default.aspx

    My involvement is only as a corresponding MIMechE energy and power man. Lead people are listed in plan document. Hope that this is of help and to others.

    Re CHP & DH, according to DUKES, there was 5.7 GW of good quality CHP in 2009 mainly industrial and commercial but some public sector not sure if Whitehall is still operating in chp mode. This total has increased very little since 2004. There were two step jumps in capacity in 2004 and 2000 by 900 and 800 MW respectively. In 2000 it was just under 4.5GW when the target was 5GW and for 2010, 10GW. The problem appears to be the price differential of electricity with the price of gas for the heat. Despite this spread (‘spark spread’) being favourable for the last few years, there has been very little increase in CHP capacity. It is competing with 90% efficient condensing gas fired boilers for heating, now mandatory in new or replacement schemes, and with the average efficiency of power generation over 41%. So it has become more difficult to justify CHP schemes.

    Lack of CHP/DH is probably down to short termism. If there was a CHP/DH obligation guaranteeing a incentivised price for heat and power like the RO, perhaps there would be more, like taking heat from Sizewell C to East London.

    Rural Energy expresses ‘surprise that no-one in this debate has questioned the economics of some options, which appear unaffordable to UK PLC.’ I agree and that was the point of my earlier question “what are the most cost effective pathways and how can we obtain funding competitively for all the programmes?” The EMR may shed more light on this?

    Regarding the EST field trials on heat pumps, all that did was to show up the poor design, installation and commissioning in the UK compared with the continent and will be addressed in time. I have been involved in 7 schemes. They should all have heat meters otherwise you cannot measure performance properly. The real benefit of heat pumps is that as electricity becomes decarbonised, so does the heat it produces – gas firing just goes on producing CO2.

  64. Keith Clarke says:

    To obtain the necessary speed of change we can all agree that we must have a number of things in place but much can be done now with what we already know. As a number have said, there is no silver bullet but we must take swift action, particularly where we are looking at changes to energy systems or infrastructure that have long project lead times. This debate must air some of the strategic decisions need to be made. For example, how do we balance district level approaches with a single property answer. Many communities may have to accept some form of energy generation close to where they live and we have all seen a massive resistance on on-shore wind. There is a major communication challange here to make 2050 a attractive place to be and to help everyone understand their role in its delivery. We can all agree that behaviour change to make reductions on the demand side is critical.

    “UK plc” is already very active in making changes and much development work is being done to develop straegic energy genetaion facilities such as nuclear and off-shore wind. There is however a lmit to what can be done off balance sheet and there will be additional costs.

  65. Mark Crowther says:

    PS (see above) Sorry I forgot to say this should also include the practicalities of low carbon transport eg battery refuelling points and hydrogen filling stations. I suggest there ould be some very useful synergies here.
    Mark

  66. Mark Crowther says:

    Whilst this exercise is very useful, I fear we are all have the same fundamental problem, that of an absence of proven fact. Will large scale solid wall insulation ever be acceptable and cost effective, why does cavity wall insulation so often not reach its full potential, are energy savings additive, is it practical heat large buildings with heat pumps, what is the additional energy consumption inherently produced by the ‘continuous heating’ demanded by heat pumps? We all know of Code 4 developments and new so-called ‘low carbon’ schools with eye –watering energy bills. A recent study showed some Victorian schools had a better carbon print. Without this real knowledge our modelling is surely based upon very insecure foundations. Importing this knowledge from overseas can easily be misleading. Japanese heat pumps show high COP’s for CO2 heat pumps because Japanese domestic energy use is dominated by Domestic Hot Water production with a very low feedwater temperature.
    Can I suggest a good way forward is to follow he precedent of the 1956 Clean Air Act and set up true local action zones and then investigate the realities (difficult or otherwise) of actually lowering their carbon emissions as measured by local incoming gas and power cables? Take a town like Stroud and carry out a detailed, accurate town energy plan, then audit it, stress test it , think of everything that can go wrong and then implement it with a local Act. Much will turn out wrong headed but at least we will have some real evidence and expertise we can sell around the world. Perhaps this might chime with the Green Deal but in a much more concentrated fashion where we can investigate those annoying but all important interactions triggered by reality. Technologies included in the first cut could include both the well known and innovative eg ASHP, GSHP (with both local and canal water, Dutch style), District heating, mCHP (incl fuel cells) , replacing the current natural gas with hydrogen piped from a gasification plant at Sharpness, local biomass, central biomass and biogas. As far as am aware nobody has carried out publicly available comparative cost studies (on a house to house, building to building, factory to factory basis) for a real town; historically they have usually been carried out by promoters of a particular technology with I fear the almost subliminal bias this so often introduces.
    Without such independent and public information the country (and by this I mean all energy users) risks spending huge sums on a series of almost PFI type deals with the utilities or the energy industry on projects that may or may not actually reduce carbon or prevaricating until global warming and increases in fossil fuel prices have become extremely serious.

    Mark

  67. Nick Jenkins says:

    A reply to David on the structure of electricity tariffs. I am tolde that in California the structure of domestic tariffs is as you advocate, that the first kWh/month are relatively cheap and then the rates increase with consumption. This does act to modify behaviour but makes it more difficult to recover fixed costs. Also California has a very interesting system of regulation in which the integrated network operator/energy supplier is incentivised to reduce load demand. I am sure there is lots of scope for innovation in tariffs and we can hope that the Smart Meter role-out will stimulate it. However, we do operate a very competitive energy suppy market and this may not easily support radical demand reduction measures.

    • David Gant says:

      Thank you for that encouraging info. about California Nick. The current UK system sends out completely the wrong message, the more fuel you use – the less your average unit costs, the low fuel user effectively subsidises the high user. And if the Californians can do it…..

  68. Chris Broome says:

    What I find really striking is that 2.5% annual growth in GDP is an assumption that no Pathway is allowed to stray from. Yet climate science shows clearly we are in a crisis situation. Surely achieving this growth should not be a pre-requisite whilst we find a solution. The future welfare of humanity has to be valued more highly. If an enemy army was gathering on the other side of the channel, would David Cameron be rallying us all with “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall achieve 2.5% annual growth and we shall never surrender”?

    I want to see a pathway that does not include any increase in GDP and relies more heavily on better established technologies, combined with safer estimates as to how they will scale up. The difficulty is to sell this idea to a public sceptical about the need for action on climate change. This view is unfashionable but I believe we should stick firmly to patiently explaining the situation as the genuine experts – climate scientists – see it. Then that the implications of their current understanding is that anything other than a very reliable method of rapidly reducing our carbon emissions – and in practice, our energy usage – would be very reckless. Mark Lynas says that he has been engaging with the public for ten years and believes serious energy use contraction isn’t realistic. Perhaps he is overlooking that public opinion and behaviour has started to change more since around say 2007, when we started to witness more extreme weather events. Then, partly because the instability in our financial system has shown itself so disruptive to ordinary people’s lives, there is increasing interest in more localised, cohesive and sustainable communities. The benefits of membership of such communities are becoming more appealing to a wider range of people.

    I would add that I find Mark Lynas’s Pathway the most terrifying of a bunch that all have obvious potential pitfalls. What would we do in 2020, if we found that there were all manner of difficulties and delays with implementing CCS and public attitudes towards lifestyle changes had not moved any further?

    We have to focus much more on the imperative aim of avoiding disaster.

    • Alan Clarke says:

      Thanks for pointing out the fixed growth assumption. My view is that we won’t even have the choice of maintaining 2.5% growth. Economists like to think energy consumption follows economic growth, and energy supply is driven by demand. However it is quite conceivable that economic growth follows energy consumption and a constrained energy supply will limit economic growth pretty severely in the next decades.

  69. Rebecca Ward says:

    As an interested member of the public, I’ve been having a play around with the calculator. Just a couple of observations. Firstly, it’s extremely difficult to make a reduction of 80% assuming fairly extreme demand reduction (mostly 4′s) without using carbon sequestration. The only other way to do it seems to be to dedicate more land to bioenergy without increasing the number of biomass power stations. Surely this is equivalent to covering more of the land with forest without burning it? It’s a really interesting tool – although I agree that without the associated costs, it would be hard to formulate a policy based on any one pathway.
    Rebecca

  70. Douglas Wise says:

    1) The energy calculator is a useful tool in that it vividly demonstrates the need to consider both the supply and demand sides of the energy equation. However, it lacks utility in its present form due to lack of costings – a lack which will be rectified in the future.
    2) DECC’s list of alternative pathways indicates that that heavy reliance on renewables will necessitate serious restrictions on lifestyles which will be hard to sell politically.
    3) There is an underlying assumption that there is no single silver bullet solution. However, on the supply side, it is not obvious that nuclear power lacks such credentials.
    4) Efficiency savings are not obviously cheap ways of reducing emissions when major infrastructure changes and retrofits are considered. Overall, it might be better to spend more on supply rather than seeking too many immediate and drastic changes aimed at reducing demand.
    5) It is apparent that as much transportation as possible should be electrified. However, liquid fuels will still be needed. Biofuels could supply this need, but at what cost to energy and food security? Synfuels via nuclear powered hydrogen production are not obviously going to more expensive, but would avoid the loss of security issues.
    6) It is also apparent that as much heating as possible be electrified. The experts have discussed the pros and cons of heats pumps and district heating. Would they care to consider the use in urban areas of small modular nuclear reactors, which could well change the relative economics of their arguments? The technology for these is probably as or more advanced than that off offshore wind.
    7) The correct pathway is unlikely to be selected unless the supply side playing field is levelled by addressing externalities and subsidies. Further, investors need government (and preferably cross party) assurances that future policy shifts won’t jeopardise investments with long pay back periods.

    • How come there are no women taking part in this debate? Is this topic really so nerdy that only men can be bothered?

      • Hi,

        This is a reply to Mark Brinkley’s earlier comment about no women in the debate (apart from Susan, of course, who give the first ‘kick-off’ comment)… My guess is that this debate has not been particularly well publicized… Am quite shocked that a subject of this import has only received 66 responses so far, but that may be because it’s early days in terms of opening up to wider responses??

        My views on how to change are centered within the analysis I’ve undertaken so far into UK energy, politics and change over the past 10 years. It seems as if a ‘driver’ for change came around 2006/2007 when we started to be concerned not just about meeting climate objectives (which became ‘legally’ binding via the EU 20:20:20 signing) but also about supply security (thanks, largely, to Russia…).

        Unfortunately, from my perspective, the nuclear lobby seems to have used the security, and mounting ‘peak oil’, concerns most successfully to back more nuclear. Personally, as an interim solution assuming that large-scale social change usually takes decades to engender, I wonder why we aren’t focusing on gas over nuclear? Let’s face it, if we are to electrify our vehicle fleet we will need a great deal more electricity than we produce now.

        Quite apart from that, nuclear is EXPENSIVE, and we will have to, in a roundabout way of course so as not to be too politically overt, subsidize it. Wouldn’t it be better to invest in more gas whilst therefore freeing up more subsidy for new technologies? The vast US shale gas production/reserves, and falling gas prices should, to a certain extent, allow us to feel more comfortable about supply security. In addition further work on CCS may allow for better gas Co2 credentials.

        I don’t suggest for one minute that gas be a long-term solution but that we need to think realistically about HOW to get emissions down steadily on a year by year basis in a secure manner – until new technologies are ready to fill the (rather large) gap and behaviour has started to change. Reliability of supply, and prices, is where we see political sensitivity (i.e. when large-scale public awareness kicks in).

        Meanwhile we should be investing in insulation; training in the building sector; serious awareness-building campaigns; a proper feed-in-tariff; as well as new technologies.

        Sorry, comment longer than I had expected….
        Best, CK

  71. David Gant says:

    On the Demand side there must be incentives to change behaviour. Money is a very effective incentive. The current pricing system for Gas & Electricity could be reversed – the core units becoming cheap and the later units expensive. Besides benefitting poor and pensioner households this would give everyone a bigger incentive to save fuel and install conservation measures. Why is this simple idea never discussed?

  72. Rod Hilditch says:

    Interesting
    Are you involved in anything practical or is your pathway assuming carbon cannot be usefully used.
    Airflow is used to enable flight in nature and commercially. Wind turbine technology has developed blades based on helicopter designs that may in time show you that smaller units can produce the same on more power, strictly speaking airflow updraft flows up and down hills rising over hills as can be seen by observing pap gliders. Commercial sites on hills frequently are sited poorly.
    As the earth cooled the planet accommodated life,in that period carbon as it is known was reduced as forests etc emerged. In the 20th Century wealth has contributed to polution that is a fraction of the emissions from volano’s, as a theroist why do you affirm a potential false impression that pollution/carbon will damage earth and therefore it will not recover, when the history of the earth suggests the opposite?
    We have a record of evidence by carbon dating objects to identify the conditions in the places of burial, therefore we have evidence from 10,000 years. Society was perhaps different, temperatures we can say were conducive to the existence of their lives, we now say the Earth is warming and right contribute this to chemicals, many of the same were burning and producing similar gases 50,000 years ago. The Earth survived when it was warmer than it is today, however what we cannot gauge is the precautions we must take to live in a warmer planet. What do you say?

  73. Rod Hilditch says:

    We are collaborators to developing a new material to replace the reliance on Balsawood that is the main component of glassfibre without which wind turbine blades will be difficult to make. Globally balsawood is in a short supply, we are therefore interested in what steps you have taken to find the essential supply of balsawood or another agent/material for the wind turbines to refer to in your presentation?

  74. Rod Hilditch says:

    Grant ideals, can you say what you or Atkins are developing in for your aspirations to be achieved?
    We are taking steps but find UK PLC talks but does very little to support exploitation

  75. James says:

    Nuclear is interesting – there is a massive tech opportunity to be taken in liquid thorium reactors which may be scaleable to small levels, portable and are far far cleaner in terms of long term disposal issues. They are potentially massively safer – this is an open area theat the UK could take the lead in as the existing tech is largely from the sixties and so out of patent.

    Please look seriously at Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR)

  76. James says:

    domestic energy demand is massively dependent on conservation and it is unrealistic to retrofit 23m homes –
    My sugggestion is to retrofit parts of homes ie have one super insulated room subsidised per home – this is more likely to be achievable – affordable and benefits those in smaller establishments to a greater degree than larger.
    We can survive cold nedrooms but everyone is entitled to one room that is warm.

  77. Rural energy user says:

    How about the model actually including all the options?

    This is a pretty basic omission.

    Also it would be an excellent idea if everyone’s input to the model including DECC’s was open to public debate.

    I am surprised that no-one in this debate has questioned the economics of some options, which appear unaffordable to UK PLC.

    Gas CHP, basic insulation, lots of industrial and commercial building technologies and some sequestration memasures (especially new farming practices) abate CO2 emissions for negative costs or close to £0 per tonne. Other options like air source heat pumps have very poor economics when replacing gas (they make emissions worse if the COP is same as in the EST field trial) and poor when replacing an oil or LPG condensing boiler. There are cheaper options for heating UK dwellings from the viewpoint of the UK, both at high and low building density.

    Incidentally discussion of electricity is irrelevant to 85% of UK energy consumption which is for the purposes of transport fuel or heat. Some of the energy input even to the elec. system has to be fuel into thermal power plants, to keep the system stable. (There was a 35% wind energy deficit in early 2010 and an excess demand for heating,. This mismatch translates as a need to build almost a 1 GW CCGT or plain gas turbines to back up every 1 GW of wind turbines constructed.)

    • Matt Bleasdale says:

      I agree, it would be great to be able to comment on specific solutions, those that a high number of people chose as their final option may have hiden consequences that the person who chose it may not be aware of. If they were able to follow teh conversation about their option they may change their mind!

  78. John Chubb says:

    The UK has several targets to aim at and these interact. What is needed is a strategy concerning what we aim to achieve and how, and by when, we aim to get there. As many aspects of such a strategy are not likely to be initially encouraged by market forces there will need to be Government investment on our behalf to get things started. While the Government has the responsibility for such actions the Opposition has an opportunity to contribute.

    It seems to me there are ** main areas to be considered:
    - how carbon emissions can be reduced by improving the efficiency of energy use. This covers improved thermal insulation in homes and businesses, efficiency of electric motors, electricity transmission, etc
    - reduce the need for energy use. This will involve changes to lifestyle (e.g. reducing consumption of meat), living closer to work, eating more locally grown food (reducing carbon emissions in transport and reducing import costs) more walking and cycling, etc. While HS2 may reduce carbon emissions and travel times somewhat it might be more effective to electrify all the remaining main line rail routes.
    - seek sources of energy less dependent on burning carbon. Solar, wind, wave, geothermal and energy storage (e.g. pumped storage). While nuclear may be low carbon in use it will take too long to be available, is too expensive and still has waste disposal problems.
    - the choice of areas for action needs to take note of where the UK can get into the manufacturing side of businesses and so that we will both benefit from the direct results and also create export opportunities. (We had a nuclear industry. Now building nuclear power stations would be a significant import cost!).

    I hope this debate will yield some positive and urgent action. The need for action has been evident for several years. Let the UK gat its act together!

    John Chubb

  79. Mike Knowles CEng MIMechE says:

    In energy for over 50 years, 28 in Babcock, mostly waste heat recovery,chp, efw, fbc and energy efficiency. Now trying to help with C-reductions – we have had a Prius for ten years, excellent but performance below what is claimed; well insulated house (over 70s free); looking into fit solar pv and rhi heat pump, both very generous incentives that can only last a short time etc., Now helping on IMechE with 2050 Energy Plan and review of the electricity market.

    My question is what are the most cost effective pathways and how can we obtain funding competitively for all the programmes? The Renewables Oblgation is not competitive since once the bandings were set in 2009 suppliers can make as much or as little out of the finance we, the consumers pay in our bills for the next 25 years or to 2037. Next RO review due in 2017 unless EMR does something for new bandings. The energy suppliers and power generators should give value for money in the current economic climate. But how? More onshore wind, biomass and accelerate nuclear & CCT/CCS. I agree with Rimmer and Clarke it should be – Mix of CCS, nuclear and renewables used. – 13 nuclear stations (delivering 280 TWh/yr in 2050), – 25-30 CCS stations (delivering 240 TWh/yr in 2050), and 10,000 wind turbines (delivering 180 TWh/yr in 2050) CCS. Don’t know how to do Pahways calculator to include in thei blog. But read all blogs with great interest.

    • Willliam Orchard says:

      Mike,
      Good to know you working on IMechE energy plan.
      Agree with you if all plants are CHP including the Nuclear.
      Will let you have some sums we did on taking heat from Sizewell to London in two two metre diameter pipes I think 140kM line to carry 2GW of heat. Cost of heat to the London conurbation was suprisingly low.
      Can let you have the numbers for your work on the energy plan.
      Think the option of combining CHP with CCS for large scale biomass should be on the agenda as it will give us negative CO2 emissions.
      We must meet up.
      William.

    • Cassandra says:

      Mike, I don’t think you or any of the panel have understood the concept of induced emissions.
      For those not familiar with it:
      Buying a manufactured item costs embodied energy and CO2 emissions in the form of energy to produce the materials, transport them etc.
      But there is also an induced component – those who manufactured the item and the materials get paid, which they then spend on more goods which themselves cost energy and emissions. The work they did for their pay would not be there if the item had not been bought
      The quantity is significant – 0.2 to 0.3 kg CO2 for every £1 spent, regardless of what it is spent on.
      It makes a big difference to renewables – expensive PV (45p/kWh FIT) is much higher CO2 per kWh than big wind at 4p/kWh FIT)
      The PV has a much higher capital cost and the induced component adds another 2.5 years to the carbon payback period, while big wind’s payback period is very short anyway (typ 6 months) and is so cheap that it is almost unaffected by the induced energy component.
      This also applies to car / boiler scrappage – the materials can be recycled, but the usefulness of the old car or boiler is lost and a new one has to be made, costing induced emissions from the new work created.
      e.g. New car, 1000kg of recycled steel produces 700kg of CO2, but with a price tag of £15000, that’s 3750kg of induced emissions – more than 5 times as much as the embodied component.
      e.g. 2 – New boiler – 30 kg steel , 19kg embodied CO2, but 250 kg CO2 Induced.
      Low cost is low induced emissions.
      This applies also to infrastructure such as high speed rail through to geo-engineering and on to extracting uranium from seawater at tiny concentrations (typ. 1ppm)
      Using less energy is, obviously, zero carbon. Big wind is very nearly zero, but PV and high speed rail are far from zero carbon.
      If you are concerned about intermittency, remember your 3 pin UK socket is electrically connected to the whole of Europe and N. Africa. With an interconnector to Russia, it goes all the way to Vladivostock. I don’t see any intermittency or supply issues. Bring on the European Supergrid.

      Then there’s the CO2 “intrest rate”. The carbon cost of renewables is paid upfront, followed by nearly zero carbon operation. The extra CO2 increases forced warming from the start, so Siberian tundra is defrosted a bit sooner in spring and later in autumn and those bugs have longer to produce CO2 and methane – a positive feedback. Rapid payback in carbon terms is better

      A summary on Induced emissions:
      http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/175776/0086563.pdf

  80. Nick Jenkins says:

    Also, let me make a brief remark to William about Heat Pumps and District Heating. As a simple electrical engineer I remain confused why District Heating in urban areas is considered to be unattractive. Is it because once dwellings are suitably insulated (which we must do) there is not enough heat load or are the capital costs too high for a heat network used only part of the year and we are using too high a discount rate in our evaluations, or is the installation of a DH network too expensive and our power stations too remote?? There have been a number of studies supporting either Heat Pumps or DH and in the meetings I have attended recently on this topic there were strongly held opposing views. It seems to me that we now need a meta-study to look at the earlier work and see if a conclusion can be reached and a way forward identified.

    • Willliam Orchard says:

      Nick,
      We recently did a study to evaluate the sequence for investment to minimise CO2 emissions from a 1960 dwelling as part of the retrofit for the future programme.
      We were extending an existing CHP DH project with a 500kW condesing gas engine CHP.
      The analysis looked compared the option of low CO2 piped heat supply first or fabric insulation first.
      The results showed that low piped heat supply first was optimal.
      The reasons simple the low CO2 heat decarbonises all the loads fabric ventilation and domestic hot water.
      Once a building is getting low CO2 heat it changes the economics of incremental insulation.
      There are exponentially diminishing returns on insulation with thickness so you end up with a very different optimal level of insulation.
      Can send you a short paper with our results if you are interested.

    • Willliam Orchard says:

      I agree with Nick Jenkins when he says, “It seems to me that we now need a meta-study to look at the earlier work and see if a conclusion can be reached and a way forward identified”.
      David I noted you selected option 2 for nuclear and option two for CCS its clear that optimal location to secure supplies to back up wind is an issue with many pathways short in this area such as 27 GW.
      Network models I understand allow one to work out the optimal location for peak load electricity generation in an electricity network if integrating the network with gas and heat networks to optimise low CO2 heat supplies to consumers.
      I am not sure how well Markal used by CCC or the pathways model can carry out such tasks.
      We have suggest a scenario for peak load and stanby for wind of 20,000 dual fuel 500kW CHPs burning biogas and with a standby fuel of bio-oil. These would sit on the 415V LV side of the numerous 11kV to 415Volt transformers backing each other up and the network thought the 11kV rings common in the UK.
      CHP at a local transformer has benefits of control and active management compared to a multitude of smaller CHP units in every dwelling as it picks up the diversity of the electrical and heat loads.
      How many people know that whilst the electrical supply to a dwelling may be 25kW the diversified electricity supply from the transformer is less than 1kW?
      Piped heat networks not exclude either electric heat pumps or fuel cells they allow for either banks of small units, or larger units that are more effective. Where there are potential geothermal resources as an example Manchester the option of biogas engine driven heat pumps feeding a heat network is likely to be superior to electric heat pumps as the waste heat from the engine can effectively upgrade the geothermal heat.
      The option of Nuclear CHP feeding into a large heat network is also likely to be increasingly attractive with rising CO2 values.
      One of my team got a budget cost of £7,000,000 per km for installation of two-metre diameter water pipes that could carry the output of a 1GW nuclear CHP at Sizewell 140km to London.
      He estimated the output of the station at station 2,200,000 kW of heat giving a capital cost per kW of capacity to deliver heat to London of £450kW.
      Sums on the two-metre diameter line carrying 2200 MW of heat. Indicated a pumping load of 54 MW and the heat loss of 30 MW. Water leaving the power station at 95 C reached London at 0.1[deg] C higher at 95.1C. This occurs as pumping energy converts to heat due to pipe friction.
      Most nuclear sites are much closer to major conurbation heat load than Sizewell. Bradwell to London 84km, Hunterston to Glasgow 50km, Oldbury to Bristol 21km, Oldbury via Newport to Cardiff 47km, Cardiff Bridgend 27km, Bridgend Swansea 29km so Oldbury Swansea a total of 103km, Torness to Edinburgh 43km, Hartlepool to Newcastle 43km. Hartlepool Middlesbrough, Stockton, Billingham 10km, Heysham Liverpool 76km, Heysham to Manchester 77.4km.
      Theoretical COPs for heat from nuclear for two stages of extraction with a 75C Flow and 30C return are 14.3 and for three stages of extraction 15.7. Allowing for inefficiencies of say 10% then COPs of over 12 appear achievable offering a better use of electricity from nuclear than its use in a local electric heat pumps with a COP of 2.5 to 4.
      Nuclear CHP may be a lower risk policy option than piped CO2 transport and CCS with its uncertainties.
      London is likely to be the optimal location for long distance heat transport due to the size of its heat load.
      A rough check on the amount of heat that might be met from nuclear is as follows.
      BRE work for 2006 domestic sector heating, estimates 424 TWh delivered split into 296 TWh for space heating and 128 TWh for domestic hot water.
      Option two in the pathways model for nuclear delivers 280 TWh of electricity, option three 630 TWh of electricity.
      If we use a heat to electricity ratio of say two as the nuclear steam cycle is relatively inefficient, then option two for nuclear could deliver 560 TWh of heat more than the total domestic sectors current demand for heat.
      Clearly, such a simplistic analysis cannot deal with the different load factors for heat and electricity but it does indicate how low carbon corridors for heat from Nuclear CHP might be developed in the UK.
      There are benefits from Nuclear pass out CHP as it can vary its heat and electricity output. At times only producing electricity as effectively as any normal nuclear plant. At other times reducing its electrical output producing heat like an electric heat pump at times when there is excess input from wind. Heat storage, which is relatively low cost, is a further feature of such systems.
      I look at the COP for the CHP option from Nuclear and note a COP of 12. I look at a COP of electric heat pumps with a COP of four. I reason that to meet the heat load I need one third of the nuclear stations on the CHP route compared to an electric heat pump route.
      I prefer a smaller number of nuclear stations on the CHP route compared to the domestic electric heat pump route, so please can it be modelled?
      As part of Nicks Meta study, can he please include the Nuclear CHP option and evaluate the role CHP at local transformers might play to back up wind and secure local heat and electricity supplies? Can David look at the best way to model networks and look at how fast CHP heat networks could be rolled out if they start from local transformers heating the area around the transformers? There is normally a correlation between transformer locations and adjacent heat load as I think, if it was planned, it could be the fastest way to decarbonise the heat sector with the lower disruption to consumers than other options.

  81. Nick Jenkins says:

    Just a brief reply to Duncan’s point about unconventional gas and its use for electricity generation. Gas fired generation in a CCGT still has a carbon intensity of around 350 gCO2/kWh or approximately half that of coal. Thus to meet the Pathway target one must use CCS (either pre or post combustion). David puts forward pre-combustion. If CCS with gas fired generation can be made cost effective and unconventional gas fulfils expectations/hopes then this option seems attractive. However both assumptions could be described as optimistic at present and both technologies have considerable environmental challenges.

  82. Willliam Orchard says:

    I am surprised that the CHP DH option does not come out superior to the electric heat pump in David Clarke’s ETI model. The ETI findings differ from those in Energy Papers 20 and 35 that recommended a programme of citywide district heating on the Danish model. They found CHP/DH superior to either a gas fired or electric heat pumps (EHP).
    The COP of heat from CHP in the pathways model is seven. This is well above the maximum COPs for EHP’s of four. CHP should be significantly better for this reason alone.
    CHP is effectively an electric heat pump. The reason it is better is the benefit of an all year heat source going to the environment at 30C from the steam turbines condensers and 80C from the chimney. Better source than air at 0C or minus 10C.
    The lower the DH flow and return temperature the higher the COP from our “virtual heat pump” CHPs. District heat 75C flow 30C return, achieves COPs of over ten.
    The implication of DH COP’s of ten compared to an EHP COP’s of four, is a reduction in electricity demand for our heat sector by a factor of two and a half with the DH option.
    This reflects a significant saving in delivered electricity, installed electrical capacity, new transmission and distribution infrastructure to meet local electric heat pump demands.
    We will need to dig the streets and at least double the capacity of the electricity distribution network to accommodate millions of electric heat pumps and meet their peak demands for electricity.
    A modelling or assumption problem somewhere?
    Can someone tell me the buttons I need to tick to model a pathway for citywide district heat in most UK towns and cities for my pathways spreadsheet?

  83. neiallswheel says:

    geo thermal heat. steam. how has this been neglected for so many people. sustainability MUST BECOME A PRIORITY OVERIDING ANY OTHER.

  84. Duncan Rimmer says:

    My final blog of the day is to raise an issue, rather than it being my own view, for everyone to discuss that a sceptical industry consultant thinks is a real danger to meeting these targets. With recent developments in unconventional shale gas, e.g. US within less than three years going from building LNG import terminals to now applying to export LNG, and with some commentators suggesting the potential for massive shale gas reserves.

    In a world similar to all our pathways where gas demand is falling or has virtually disappeared we could easily see a situation when gas supply outstrips demand and prices fall making gas fired generation or heat for that matter by far the cheapest option. How will markets and Government’s react if gas undercuts all forms of zero carbon energy?

    • David Clarke says:

      We build quite a spread on gas prices (and all other commodity pricing) into our modelling. Government reaction is uncertain but the climate change need would remain.
      Technologically I’d be hoping the gas turbines I had built alongside my CCS separation plants could run on hydrogen AND on natural gas. At least I’d then have the option to limit impact on my capital investment and retain flexibility depending on fuel prices and government policies.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      My understanding is that virtually all shale gas production in USA is running at a loss with current prices. The gas market is broken. Large operators are buying up resources (not reserves) presumably with a view to rigging much higher prices in future. Loss making expensive shale gas is currently being subsidised by conventional oil and gas production from legacy assets.

      DECC and the UK government needs to set aside these 2050 games and confront the real energy crisis that is before us. All prior energy transitions have been towards higher quality greater quantity energy sources that ultimately meant lower prices, higher consumption and economic growth. This time needs dictate (peak cheap fossil fuel) that we must try to utilise poorer quality (less dense intermittent) energy sources, ultimately meaning higher energy prices and less availability likely leading to economic stagnation / contraction. This is happening now – its time to wake up.

  85. Nick Jenkins says:

    I wanted to consider imports of low carbon energy (either biomass or electricity). These both appear to be attractive options for a Pathway to meet the desired emissions reduction but, as with all the choices, raise a number of difficult questions. These include:
    Technical/Cost: How technically feasible is what is being considered and what will be the costs? At present our ability to transmit very large flows of electricity through submarine cables is limited (to around 1-2GW). Although power ratings can be raised any increase is likely to be incremental. The basis of High Voltage DC technology is well known. Also, is the full life cycle assessment of imported biomass robust? I look to be convinced that growing energy crops overseas and importing the biomass does not have a significant carbon foot print.
    Market Operation: I think most of us would except these energy flows to be managed through markets and this again raises some difficult questions. Clearly some energy markets (e.g. oil) work quite well but electricity needs cable routes and establishing an effective market may be more difficult. Before investing heavily in this type of infrastructure we need to be reasonably confident that if demand exceeds supply an effective market will lead to an increase in price and so additional supply, within a reasonable time.
    Equity: Many countries are moving into a time of critical shortage of both food and water. Hence we need to consider carefully the ethics of using land for biomass production (rather than for food) and how we use water. Some solar thermal power plants use significant volumes of water and this is a valuable commodity in desert areas. This concern over equity is important as if we do not have an equitable outcome then any solution will only be temporary.

  86. This debate is remarkable, in effect we’re helping the Government to form policy with all the pitfalls, variations and exciting possibilities. When the debate opens up tomorrow we’ll see a truly national conversation that I think will be eye-opening.

    I have to admit that I’m more interested in the themes rather than the absolute outputs of everyone’s calculators. My Pathway fell short of the target by around 3% and I had to make some bold choices to get there. I believe the tool is credible but as Mark says it is based on what we can touch in 2011. I believe we can’t predict how technology will evolve and how that will shape the journey, I do know though that technology will evolve and meeting, hopefully exceeding, the targets will get easier. As others have said society will demand this and business will embrace it because it will drive growth.

    For this to happen Government and the private sector must work closer together. The private sector is best placed to advise on which technologies are realistically deliverable and Government will have to legislate / develop policy to make change happen. The expectation of an imminent floor price for carbon is one such way in which clean energy technologies will be pushed forward. The delivery of the Low carbon Economy will not be led by legislation. The Pathway we develop must allow Government to regulate / incentivise meaningfully; to support the necessary speed of change and to create policy at a pace that reflects future innovation. We must demonstrate to Government what is technically and commercially possible in order to support the decisions that Government must take. I agree with Duncan that cost is a central to any discussion on the deliverability of change.

    Following on that last thought we need to think about each word in ‘Low Carbon Economy’. It’s not just about ‘Low Carbon’ it’s also about ‘Economy’ and if we don’t have manufacturers producing goods and new infrastructure being built we’ll be in trouble.

    This will be driven by changing social demands – the idea of heating your home with fossil fuel will become about as logical as using gold to fuel your car. Would you take up smoking now? It’s a good idea to invent a new way to stop smoking though.

    We have aimed to develop a scenario that improves the self sufficiency of the nation; one that does not rely heavily on external energy supplies, improves the efficiency use of energy (heat or electricity) that we generate and places increasing emphasis on energy storage (although, as David says, this might be the storage of hydrogen as a fuel), and does not export the carbon associated with our industrial needs. The debate on the use of limited land area for biomass, food crops or timber for sustainable construction is an interesting one. There will be challenges, not least in having enough engineers and scientists to invent and deliver these new solutions.

    We will actually need a new kind of ‘contraction and convergence’ where the debate contracts into a simplified set of choices – with Government/s leading – and the convergence of the public sector with the private sector to naturally drive innovation and growth. It’s a stunning challenge but this is where we are.

  87. Mike Childs says:

    Sorry, one more post, then I’m off-line for a while.

    I said last night I wanted to explore Mark L’s good challenge that we just aren’t going to get people to cut meat to create land space for biomass, live in colder homes, travel less or have wind-farms in their backyard. I’ve done a new pathway (web address below) taking this approach. This comes out 30 per cent above a carbon budget for 70% chance of avoiding 2 degrees if maximum geo-sequestraton. It’s 45 per cent above if geosequestration doesn’t work or isn’t chosen.

    I wish we had the option not to challenge lifestyles but I’m afraid we don’t.

    I think we have to push lifestyle stuff as much as we can but we also have to push the low-carbon supply with an understanding that not all of the lifestyle changes will mateialise.

    How we encourage people to make lifestyle change is a very big issue and has real risks that we create a dangerous backlash.

    Link here: http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/4014414144441101134110014411012330310230443042011/primary_energy_chart

  88. Mike Childs says:

    I question the feasibility or sustainability of the level of biomass imports within David, Duncan, Dustin and Nick’s pathway.

    You all opt for level 2 on biomass imports. This is around 1.3 million hectares of overseas land use (presumably in addition to the 6 million hectares we already use for food and feedstock imports).

    A recent European Commission presentation, based on member states renewable energy plans, said that energy crops will be expected to contribute to more than 10% of the total final energy consumption in 2020 across the EU and could contribute to more than 50% of renewable energy consumption in 2020. This implies that Europe’s biomass production is going to be fought over quite considerably.

    With a growing world population and significant increases in meat consumption is it all realistic to base the UK’s energy supply on biomass imports? Even if doing so helps us with the challlenge of providing peak heat in mid-winter.

    • Dustin Benton says:

      Bioenergy is a difficult issue. Certainly, the experience of first generation biofuels leading to the destruction of Indonesian rainforest or the use of corn-based ethanol being linked to food riots in Mexico makes me wary of overreliance on imports. It’s worth noting that the calculator’s assumptions on bioenergy imports suggests that level 2 would only require half the fair share (on a per-capita basis) of global, exportable bioenergy to be imported.

      If you assume zero imports under my scenario, it delivers a 78% cut in emissions, which isn’t enough but is still close. The difference between level 1 imports (none) and level 2 imports (70TWh requiring just over half the area of Wales) is rather significant, so it may be the case that the UK could import somewhat less while still meeting its targets.

      As to your point about competition over bioenergy from elsewhere in Europe, the key will be to use bioenergy efficiently. I note that of all the pathway authors, only Mark Lynas chose to use electricity-only biomass power stations (by selecting level 2 for these). Burning biomass at 30% efficiency seems a terrible waste of a constrained low carbon fuel. I’d suggest that rather than assuming that bioenergy can’t be sustainable, we make the most of it while seeking to limit how much we need.

    • Duncan Rimmer says:

      I agree Mike that it is a difficult conundrum and the model pathways do not allow any of us to express our views with sufficient granularity for instance we are importing 35 TWh of solid Biomass in our pathway whereas 41TWh of Solid fuel gets exported and we are (net) exporters of significant amounts of electricity which we could reduce by building less CCS plants (although this has an impact on system balancing). With regards to using Biomethane for peak heating it should be noted that the imports are either solid or liquid and we would propose using biogas/biomethne only derived from indigenous sources.

    • David Clarke says:

      I agree with your concerns Mike in terms of biomass / landuse sustainability and we have to look worldwide not just in Europe.

      Our analysis at ETI considers bioenergy imports as liquids and solids and it is a combination of those at 70TWh I have put in at level 2 in the calculator. We also need to recognise the yield improvements we can expect to see from improved agricultural practices and GM tailored crops.

      You are quite right about the risk and potential impact of global competition for biofuels but in terms of opportunity cost for the UK, using bioenergy to this level is the single most cost-effective route to reducing CO2. The annual UK opportunity cost in 2050 for bioenergy is around £90bn (ie; mitigates around 25% of the cost of the UK energy system we would have to construct otherwise).

      Bioenergy (indigenous and imports) will go into transport fuels of course as well as into power generation and heat production.

  89. Duncan Rimmer says:

    As Nick suggested little of the debate as focused on the importance of cost, well here goes. The electrification of both heat and transport is correctly seen in all pathways as vital to meeting the target; however, what is less well appreciated is that the annual daily profile for heat can be extremely steep as we only required heat for a number of months a year and in addition, as this winter proved, you can get prolonged spells of very cold weather. Whereas the current daily demand for electricity is broadly flat across the year, thus moving to electrifying heat will change this profile. New houses will be well suited to full electrification as their insulation when coupled with heat pumps would provide the required heat on an even basis; however, for existing housing (of which around 95% will still be around in 2050) their heat profile over the year will still be steep. So the question is how is the heat best supplied?

    - try to flatten the profile as much as possible through insulation etc
    - use heat pumps to deliver baseload heat utilising coefficients of performance (COP) of 3-4 and then
    - build power stations to operate for only the cold winter months and then use the electricity in resistive heaters or in heat pumps with low COP values or build long duration storage facilities.

    This third element (excuse the pun) is where the issue of cost starts to raise its ugly head and if we are going to meet the policy objective of affordability then we need to consider alternatives to meeting this peak heat.

    Building power stations and network infrastructure to operate with low load factors will prove extremely expensive per unit of energy and must surely be sub-optimal while storage facilities would need to be large as during a cold spell there would be limited opportunity to recharge them as the within day profile for electricity demand would have been flattened with smart technology supporting the charging of EVs filling in the troughs and heat pumps being on most of the time under cold conditions. [Note: the current largest storage facility in the UK at Dinorwig will empty its reservoir in 5 hours when operating at full rate]. Hence an alternative solution would be the use renewable biogas in local distribution/heat networks to supply this peak heat. This would not only be the most efficient use of the biogas but this hybrid model could mean heat from biogas could be used to balance intermittent generation rather than building back up plant.

    I apologise for the length of this blog but it’s important that the impact of costs associated with the full electrification of heat are understood because it is generally overlooked by most commentators.

    • Dustin Benton says:

      Unless you rely on major changes to land use to grow a very large amount of bioenergy – the plan you’ve put together involves covering an area the size of Wales in biocrops – high levels of electrification of heat seem to be required to meet the 80% target. One of the options which you haven’t chosen is greater interconnection. Isn’t this another option under element 3 above?

      • Duncan Rimmer says:

        In response to Dustin’s points; biogas can come from a number or sources not just bio-crops but also anaerobic digestion and gasification of waste which something has to be done with anyway so why not use it to create energy. Yes my pathway uses reasonable amounts of bioenergy but it’s used in a variety of ways e.g. heating homes during very cold days, industry and power generation with CCS to gain carbon credits.

        With regard to greater interconnection National Grid believe in this and have just spent £ms on a new 1.2GW interconnector between the UK and Holland; however, I would point out it took a decade from inception to completion. What this winter taught us is that when the UK is cold Europe is also so there is no guarantee that imports would be available. Also pathways that have significant levels of intermittent renewable generation (wind, solar and wave) are limited in their contributions on cold dark still days. Not withstanding all this, the peak heating argument is all about cost i.e. you shouldn’t build large power stations (in the UK or abroad) to operate with low load factors as it can’t be optimal.

        • Gordon says:

          Further to Duncan’s point on biomass sources, I note that Denmark claims that:
          “In Denmark, biomass currently accounts for approximately 70% of renewable-energy consumption, mostly in the form of straw, wood and renewable wastes, while biogas accounts for less. Consumption of biomass for energy production in Denmark more than quadrupled between 1980 and 2005..” (Danish Energy Agency).

          I know that Denmark is a very small country with the social and political cohesion and will to make district CHP work, but is not the problem with biomass modelling the scaling of plant in the UK? Many of the Danish plants are small (often single figure MW capacity) while we are now emphasising large (200-300MW) plants and co-firing which drives up dependence on imported wood chip for feedstock.

          Should we not be looking at smaller plant such as Ely and Stevens Croft, with more locally sourced feedstock and an emphasis on using agricultural waste.

    • Mark Lynas says:

      I have a couple of technical-ish questions, Duncan.

      1. Why is my air-source heat pump so expensive to run? I live in a reasonably well-insulated ex-council semi, and yet it burns through 40-50kwh per day in cold weather. Huge electric bills, even though I use gas for nothing except the hob-top cooker. My parents also have one, and report the same problem (their record, in Wales, is 80kwh/day!)

      2. What are the options for generating biogas? Could we hitch the sewage systems up to the gas system through large-scale anaerobic digestion facilities? Or is this source relatively minor?

      • Duncan Rimmer says:

        Mark a recent EST survey on heat pumps showed an average COP of around 2.5 and that their effectiveness is dependent on a number of factors e.g. how they were installed and how they were operated. Clearly this average COP will improve and energy use should fall. All heat pumps have a resistive heater to top up the heat pump output under cold conditions and what I’d guess is that yours has been utilised extensively hence the high energy use.

        Your second question relating to sources of biogas please see my response to Dustin above. There are currently a number of projects out there that are creating biogas (or to give it it’s proper name biomethane) to inject in to the gas network which has the benefit of burning in a gas boiler at 90%+ efficiency as opposed to generating electricity with it at 30% efficiency.

      • AntonyA says:

        We could hitch the sewer systems to large water to water heat pumps and extract waste heat for district heating. Also have a look at new generation of air to air heat pumps from japan with COP in excess of 5.6

    • David Clarke says:

      At ETI we model many pathways to 2050 and look for the lowest cost routes – including new technology developments. A UK energy system (power, heat, transport and infrastructure) capable of -80% CO2e is likely to cost around £360bn in year 2050 (~2% of GDP).

      The question of cost is at the heart of this whole debate. At ETI we developed our ‘ESME’ tool specifically to allow us to carry out cost optimised modelling of the UK energy system out to 2050. We use this to inform our major investments in engineering and technology development.

      What we see is an incremental energy system cost of a little over £50bn in 2050 to reach the -80% target compared to an unconstrained emissions world (ie; about +15%) . The model uses a set of scenarios for future demand across power, heat and transport coupled with cost and performance information on over 125 technologies.

      Specifically on heat (despite Mark Ls comments which are not untypical of current users comments I think) currently we see air source heat pumps coming out consistently as the major heat delivery route for a cost optimised 2050 owing to the low cost of installation to 10’s millions of sites compared to installing district heating (DH). In recent analyses we have done for the Committee on Climate Change heat pumps come out as providing 70% of 2050 space heating needs. The peak loading issue is mitigated through storage and demand phasing. Until 2020 ‘all heat is from gas’ but we can see electricity then starting to make inroads and ramping up fast in the 2030s and 2040s to meet the cumulative emissions needs.

      There remains a real question on COP in UK environments and we are working with the Energy Saving Trust to try and understand this better. The other challenge is temperature rises in urban environments may degrade COP in the future. Things change but, unless we can find radically cheaper ways of retrofitting DH into the UK urban environment, heat pumps look like being the mainstay even with the additional costs of some electricity distribution network upgrades to cope with the increased loads.

    • Matt Bleasdale says:

      Duncan, you missed out flattening of the demand profile through use of vehicle to grid technology. Using excess charge in a vehicles batteries once it’s been parked up for the evening and charging it over night would vastly improve the storage available in the network. At 50kWh per vehicle, 20M of them (for ease of calculation and assuming full personal vehicle electrification) would equate to 1TWh of sorage, even 10% of that would be very significant. As the demand profile is highest when people are in their houses not using their vehicles the efficiency of the system is good, on top of which the captial cost is sourced directly from the population at relatively low levels and is scaleable.

      All technologies that ensure the infrastructure inplace is used on as flat a demand profile as possible optimises the system and improves economics.

  90. Nick Jenkins says:

    I joined the debate late as I am in Stanford and so 8 hours later than those in UK. Many thanks for all the contributions, which I found fascinating. However, already the volume of information and views is in danger of becoming overwhelming. Would it be useful to try to segment the question? It seems we have a number of areas (admittedly linked) that might be partitioned as:

    Energy demand reduction: behavioral and technical, transport, industrial, commercial and domestic
    Low carbon energy supply: electricity generation, gas, coal, biogas/biofuels/biomass

    Etc,etc (I am very happy if an alternative partitioning is preferred)

    There also seem to be divergent views on the importance of cost of any action. The Calculator leads us into considering issues one at a time and we could follow its lead while still recognizing the importance of the overall answer.

  91. Mike Childs says:

    I’m going to bed now with the expectation of being woken at least 3 times by a teething baby – but a last word for today in response to Mark’s post.

    The pathways show their are more than one way to skin a cat, although as my earlier posting said I think the options reduce if you try to give yourself a high chance of avoiding 2 degrees. I want to run the model easing off on demand management but putting my foot to floor on developing low carbon supply to see what this does to the total carbon budget.

    It would be great if we can go green and not have to persuade the public to reduce the numbe of pok pies they eat or cheap flights to prague but I suspect we won’t have the luxury.

    Good-night all

    • Mark Lynas says:

      Mike – I hope you slept well… I think your question really does go to the heart of it.

      “It would be great if we can go green and not have to persuade the public to reduce the number of pork pies they eat or cheap flights to Prague but I suspect we won’t have the luxury” (slight edit for typos!)

      Why do you suspect that? The whole point of this model is to get away from gut feeling towards a more numerate approach. My model pathway does not reduce livestock numbers (plenty of pork pies for everyone), and nor does it ask for any reduction in the public’s appetite for flying. (Of course, this wasn’t an option anyway – obviously the designers agree with me that demand management on aviation is inconceivable!).

      And we still get the 80% reduction in CO2 by 2050. With changing technologies in aviation (and likely agriculture too) I’m optimistic that by mid-century we can be in a better position regarding these residuals than it is possible to envisage today. So why the pessimism?

      This is an important point for environmental NGOs, which often seem to take pride in trying to sell the apparently contradictory message: “Climate change is a terrible crisis! And solving it is going to be incredibly difficult and require great sacrifice from you!”

      No wonder the public switches off!

      • Dustin Benton says:

        Sorry to jump in here, but I can see a reason for pessimism.

        The implications of a less restrictive approach to demand can be seen in the amount of infrastructure that is required by your plan – 30 nuclear power stations (probably built in remote areas and connected with highly visible pylons), 33 CCS plants (with associated pipelines and pylons), 60,000 carbon sequestration devices the size of an upended shipping container in the UK (with yet more pipelines) and perhaps 160,000 of these devices abroad, along with as much bioenergy and offshore wind as I used in my plan.

        Your experience (outlined below) suggests that people won’t want to change their lives, making all this necessary. My experience of public participation in the planning process is that most people won’t want to see this much new infrastructure, calling into question the strategy of not asking people to live differently.

        I’m all in favour of a more numerate approach – as long as we’re counting everything!

        • Duncan Rimmer says:

          Dustin you mention in your response to Mark L about the number of new stations and pylons that would be required. Obviously as National Grid are responsible the transmission pylons I have to respond. I notice in your pathway that you have selected 100GW of offshore wind so I’d be interested to know how you would expect the energy from these wind farms to reach Birmingham or for that matter South London in a cost effective manner?

        • Duncan Rimmer says:

          To add to my previous comment/question to Dustin; when determining any routes for new overhead lines we (as in National Grid) always carry out extensive consultation and try to minimise the environmental impact of any line by undergrounding where necessary. Unfortunately using underground cables is far more expensive (at least 10 times) and there are also maintenance/access issues if faults occur.

          • Dustin Benton says:

            Underground lines may be more expensive than overhead lines, but the price difference seems to be falling, even on National Grid’s reckoning: in late 2009, your cost estimates put underground lines as 12-17x more expensive (http://bit.ly/h7z1Ao) but just over a year later, you suggest it’s as low as 10x, and CPRE has identified research from Denmark which shows it to be lower still. As Keith Clark’s introduction notes, the calculator is based on current technology, and there’s no reason to suggest that these costs wont fall further. And of course, transmission costs are only around 3% of the cost of electricity bills (http://bit.ly/g2Mkhn), so it’s important to get a bit of perspective.

            As to your point about how we get power from offshore wind onshore, the short answer is that we need an integrated offshore grid which moves bulk electricity between offshore wind farms, different parts of the UK, and other power consumers (and suppliers) in Europe using sub-sea cables to minimise the number of onshore lines and substations required. We will need this sort of grid anyway to handle balancing under the majority of the scenarios outlined here, and a well designed grid could link to a wider European ‘supergrid’ which will be necessary if we want to make the most efficient use (in power and monetary terms) of our renewable energy resources. This might sound rather far-fetched to some reading this, but as you know, National Grid has already proposed a first step toward this (http://bit.ly/eYZ08o), and detailed work by Imperial College London and other well-respected energy researchers (http://www.roadmap2050.eu/) confirms the feasibility of this approach.

          • Duncan Rimmer says:

            Dustin you are correct in what you say about the need to develop integrated offshore networks to support round 3 wind farms and greater interconnection to Europe. National Grid is heavily involved in promoting these two initiatives along with a North Sea Grid/European Supergrid and of course in the case of interconnectors actually building them. However, the issue about how you transmit this energy once it lands ashore to where the demand is will require all costs to be minimised where possible otherwise we will fail on the affordability policy objective.
            Purely from a practical point of view if you were to underground from the east coast to Birmingham think about how many motorways, major A roads, B roads, rivers, canals etc would you need to cross not to mention the cost which would certainly be heading beyond the range 12-17 times!

      • Chris Broome says:

        Mark,

        Please remember that the 2 degree limit has been agreed by the international community because few believe it is realistic to persuade a sceptical public to accept anything safer. So we have a limit that probably avoids worldwide catastrophe but not increasingly severe weather events.

        I think public opinion and behaviour has begun to change and many are beginning to question how much pork pies and flying mean to them when people in Bangladesh and Pakistan have had their homes swept away.

        With regard to the figures, projections for the various energy technologies are based on pages of figures and logic but are still highly speculative. That would not be too critical if failure to achieve them simply meant lower economic growth. But we are in an entirely new situation, when we are relying on them to limit emissions and ultimately the scale of disasterous weather events.

        I am sure we will see many technological breakthroughs before 2050 but they may not be enough to make a difference of the scale required. There is a view that we will always develop solutions once problems facing us develop. But this does not apply universally, defeating various diseases being an obvious example. So if a major technology in our chosen Pathway failed to deliver, our future welfare could then be reliant on breakthroughs that may not materialise.

  92. les fulford says:

    what is missing from the debate on energy and climate change is all the patents, inventions and new technologies that have been brought up and shelved by the energy industry. Auckland institute of technology in New Zealand published a list of such technologies, pantents etc, including fuel additives, novel ways of generating electricity, effeicient ways of producing hydrogen etc. A index of inventors and devices can be found on http://www.free-energy-info.co.uk/. A lot of these could have a big impact on carbon emmisions if they could get proper funding for reasearch and development.

  93. Dustin Benton says:

    In reply to Mark – there are certainly a number of no-regrets options on which we agree – greater interconnection, offshore wind, and technology demonstration for CCS – but the implications of our pathways are rather different. One of the great new aspects of the revised calculator is that it shows, in very broad terms, the land use implications of different pathways. I tried as much as I could to limit the land use impacts of my pathway, though I’ve had to rely on some biomass (about 5% of UK land, and perhaps a similar amount elsewhere in the world) which is a rather land-inefficient form of energy. But overall, I’ve linked production closely to (reduced) consumption as I don’t share the view that the UK should be a significant energy exporter if that means building lots of energy infrastructure in what is already a very built-up country.

    Turning to Mike’s point about the difficulty in envisaging demand reduction, it is certainly true that no one has ever rioted for austerity, as George Monbiot memorably put it. But looking at the losses in the energy flows section of the calculator reminds me how much energy we waste, both from conventional power stations as heat (hence my preference for much greater CHP), and in our daily lives. We could do much more to reduce these losses by using technology like smart meters and demand responsive appliances to cut waste in places where we won’t notice a change – not straightforward, but a better alternative than just trying to build more energy infrastructure.

    • One of the more interesting points to come out of David’s book and emphasised here in the Calculator is that some levers are very influential whilst others are largely ineffective.

      And, surprise, surprise, the technologies being subsidised by the Feed-in-Tariff are generally pretty ineffective. So here’s one area of policy which should be addressed….

  94. Mark Lynas says:

    A very helpful and interesting discussion – thanks everyone. It’s getting late, and I’m mulling the question: what will ultimately guide our decisions about which energy pathway we choose? Cost? Opinion polling for/against onshore wind/nuclear? I wonder. If this exercise shows anything, it shows that none of these pathways can be ruled out specifically on technical grounds: for example I cannot say a rewewables/efficiency pathway is unfeasible, but nor can anti-nuclear people say that nuclear does not potentially help (viz arguments about build rate, carbon intensity etc).

    But it may not be true to say that each pathway is equally possible, either. As I said earlier, I don’t think that pathways asking for serious energy use contraction and austerity lifestyle change are realistic – I can’t prove this, and I know it sounds pessimistic, but I have been in the game of public engagement on climate for more than a decade, and this is what I feel I have learnt.

    Dustin suggests that “People, I think, will generally choose to help reduce energy use if they see how their choices impact the environment”. I really don’t think so. Most people don’t care. ‘Green consumerism’ of any sort tends to be faddish and quickly forgotten, and only appeal to a narrow demographic. As to environmental impact, the linkages are too tenuous (proven in model-based and complex attribution studies), and the benefits of personal sacrifice (giving up your holidays) too diffuse for this strategy to be socially and politically sustainable.

    I wrote earlier somewhere something along this lines of “if you ask people to stop flying because of climate change they will often respond ‘then I don’t believe in climate change’”. Even for aviation – where technical options are currently very limited – we will need some kind of technology substitution given the likely global demand patterns for long-haul travel.

    So my admitted bias here is the following:

    1. Build a shed-load of low/zero-carbon supply
    2. Develop CCS as a stop-gap and potentially carbon-negative long-term tool (burning biomass)
    3. Go for efficiency where it’s no-regrets but don’t expect this to reduce aggregate demand for pretty much anything (heat, electricity, travel, whatever)
    4. Electrify heat and transport (and cooking) – it seems we all agree on that
    5. Keep nuclear in the mix as a reliable source of baseload, primarily to displace coal on the conventional grid
    6. Do more energy R&D!

    Mark

  95. Mike Childs says:

    I’m interested in Duncan’s view that much greater levels of renewables are possible to 2020. As he says this would indeed help with reducing cumulative emissions. Like Duncan I didn’t select level 4 in offshore wind because of the excess electricity after 2030, even though I preferred the level 4 build rate. Perhaps DECC could model what maximum reduced emissions by 2030 might be feasible?

    I want to return to very good points Mark made earlier in the debate about the difficulties in making lifestyle changes (hence his reliance on technical solutions). Obviously this is a really important issue and has a major influence on pathways.

    Clearly it is difficult to easily envisage people keeping the thermostat down, reducing meat & dairy consumption, constraining flying and buying less stuff (although I wouldn’t rule it out). What it suggests to me that we need to do the best we can to reduce energy demand (and this is economically the most sensible thing to do) but at the same time really go for growing low carbon energy supply and electrify as much as possible.

    The good news from the DECC model is that the UK is blessed with very large amounts of renewable energy so it is feasible to adopt this approach without having to either a) import lots of biomass with the risks to food prices and biodiversity this brings (ignoring carbon impact for time being) or b) build lots of nuclear power stations with the attendant risks to future generations. Excess electricity could also be used for hydrogen production perhaps as both a storage solution as David suggests, but presumably also as an option within some industrial uses.

  96. Dick Winchester says:

    I’ve no idea why we’re debating this issue. We’re not investing anything like enough in the technology we need for it to make any difference. As a consequence our energy future will be in the hands of others who are of course already making a lot of progress in a range of technologies.

    As was once admitted to me by an old friend at the former DTI ” the treasury really wants everyone else to develop all the technology so we can buy what we want from them when we want it.”

    So we won’t have a choice. We’ll have to take what we can afford.

  97. David Clarke says:

    Duncan raises an interesting point in how we manage heat demand. In the work we do at the ETI we are always seeking routes to the lowest cost, integrated energy system for 2050 – cost optimised across heat, power, transport and infrastructure.
    The heat and power systems we have today are not integrated or cost optimised. They have evolved over decades with no interconnections on the whole and hence we rely on several separate systems for heating and powering our 27 million domestic properties and 960m square metres of commercial and public sector floor space with heat being reliant primarily on (cheap) natural gas, (more expensive) oil and electric resistance.
    Looking ahead there is a real opportunity to look at much better (and lower cost) integration across systems whilst relying on a single system (electricity) as the ‘final mile’ delivery into buildings – for heat and for power.
    We are seeing real long term potential for part (and only part) of a cost optimised electricity system using natural gas as a fuel feeding into precombustion CCS and gas turbines capable of burning hydrogen gas. Hydrogen can be burnt or stored underground depending on demand – the CCS plant can be run at constant load and the gas turbine as a load follower. Well over 1000GWh of hydrogen storage looks practical and affordable vs alternatives. Not much in the scale of national annual consumption (>2000 TWh) but a significant part of daily load / demand balancing for peak heat demand delivered through electricity.
    Delivering the greatest benefit from this kind of approach requires very consistent and clear long term planning, policy and regulation – something that is often difficult to sustain in an uncertain world! The cost savings can be enormous though – our work estimates that NOT implementing CCS at all in the UK is likely to bring us additional costs in 2050 of over £60bn per year in terms of implementing alternative low carbon energy systems to meet the -80% target.
    In the nearer term out to 2030 the ‘dual fuel’ system to buildings for heat (presumably mixing biogas with fossil gas) and power is going to be the practical approach but how fast can we get to an optimised approach ?

  98. John Clarkson says:

    I think that although the CO2 threat is a huge problem, the fact is that without China, India and US doing something, its not going to be much help. This of course should not stop us from reducing CO2 emissions for they are a good guide to pollutants in the air and we would be an example to others.

    The key problem though is energy supply. This is a global issue. However, the critical point is that whatever the government do, if demand keeps rising for energy, supply – because the worlds resources are limited (we live on a globe)- eventually they will become scarce. The fact is at a demand of just 1% oil is not really an economic option by 2050. The loss of oil, will in the longer term end any ability to obtain coal and gas or even minerals and metals cheaply, or build nuclear.

    The Chinese are planning to limit economic growth to 7% per year. But this limitation would still mean that their economy doubles in size every 10 years. This is the same rate at which US energy demand was for many years across the 1950, 60s and 70s, and we know about what happened to CO2 emission as a result of that.

    In any case, growth in demand will naturally overstretch resources at some point. Even if we invented clean energy like fusion, this would only allow humans to grow their population beyond the means of the earth’s bacteria and soil to continue to help it grow. At some point a huge loss of life due to pandemic affecting crops or people must occur. Or it may come in the form of another natural disaster. Or is may be man-made climate change. It is a certainty, an uncontestable fact of future existence. Nothing can go on forever.

    The Government live in a fantasy land if they think they can have plentiful energy without massive investment in renewables. Nuclear emits the same CO2 as other forms of energy due to the need to cool spent fuels. Decommissioning costs are prohibitive. A Greenpeace Study proved beyond doubt that nuclear power is not needed. Renewables can do it all if there is enough investment. But this Tory govt don’t have the balls to do it. Vote Green I say!

  99. Duncan Rimmer says:

    As Mark L points out it’s interesting to see the number of common themes across the pathways e.g. the need for greater energy efficiency, electrification of transport, growth in offshore wind and nuclear and CCS (in the majority of pathways).

    I believe a balanced approach is vital to ensure future technology pathways aren’t closed off as there is considerable uncertainty around certain technologies becoming cost effective. This balanced approach also applies to renewable technologies and while I have used offshore wind as a surrogate for all variable renewables (because of the lack granularity within the trajectories available) clearly there will be developments in other technologies e.g. onshore wind, solar and marine.

    In response to Mike’s issues of cumulative CO2e I believe that the renewable build up out to 2020 could easily by greater than allowed within the model trajectories (~20GW). For example in our recent “Offshore Development Information Statement” scenario consultation we show a potential range of renewable capacity from 22GW to 45GW by 2020. This would result, particularly if coupled with a switch from coal to gas, in lower cumulative emissions then suggested in all pathways. The reason I haven’t selected a pathway that would reflect higher initial growth rates is because it would lead to an end point in 2050 at a level significantly above what I believe is economic or practical unless CCS is not commercially viable. For instance 150GW of wind in 2050 would result in potentially significant levels of energy being wasted as supply would outstrip demand on many occasions even with large levels of storage and interconnection.

    Across all pathways the electrification of heat plays an important role; however, the consequences of this switch to electric heating aren’t clear within the model i.e. how will the much “peakier” demand profile be delivered. For instance we believe a balanced approach using a dual fuel hybrid model is the most cost effective way rather than fully electrifying heat resulting in either power stations or large duration storage facilities operating for short durations of severe weather. Consequently, I would be interested in your views on how best the UK could meet this “peak heating” issue cost effectively.

  100. Dustin Benton says:

    To partly answer David Clarke’s point about how we get people to accept energy reduction measures, I’d suggest two points:

    First, building energy generation infrastructure increases bills, and helping people to install efficiency measures helps to save money. If we can link some of the profits from subsidies we’ve already created for renewables to energy reduction measures, we can lower up front costs of efficiency while helping people to benefit from lower long-term costs due to lower consumption. This helps to address the problem of cost.

    Second, the scenarios show that the country has a choice: we can be very aggressive about energy saving and have lower requirements for the sort of energy infrastructure needed to reduce our emissions – the power stations and pylons that many people don’t want to see in their countryside. Or, we can continue to waste energy and rely on lots of power generation and techno-fixes like large-scale geosequestration, with all the attendant impacts on the natural environment and increased costs to consumers.

    People, I think, will generally choose to help reduce energy use if they see how their choices impact the environment. We can use locally led strategic planning – an energy literate version of the existing local planning process – to show people how the consumption choices they make affect how many power stations are needed in the context of their local area.

    The unifying principle behind both these points is to help people see that their choices affect the energy system and its impact on the environment in a direct, real and local way.

  101. Mike Childs says:

    Most scientists I speak to suggest that we need to cut emissions as deep as possible as fast as possible. They are deeply uncomfortable with even a 2 degree global temperature increase, largely due to uncertainties around tipping points. This means, I think, we need rapid action on energy savings and also rapid development of low carbon energy. I suggest this means lots of on-shore wind and small-scale renewables.

    I think your point Mark L about developing countries need clean energy not necessarily space for carbon pollution is true but is only part of the story. We’ve found it difficult to decarbonise industry and transport in the UK through this exercise. Developing countries will increasingly use cars, lorries, planes and have steel plants. I think in reality that they will use their share of the remaining carbon for these functions regardless of the amount of renewables they have. Our research on global carbon budgets suggested China would need to peak its emissions in 2013, so we’re not suggesting that the challenge to developing countries is not as great as ours. If we want a good chance of avoiding 2 degrees significant change is needed quickly in the north and the south.

    The challenge we have, as David will remind us, is how do we make this transition without breaking the economy with the social ills that brings? There is no easy answer to that (although a decent Green Investment Bank would help). But a challenge back is what of the cost of not doing it? Chris Huhne is saying today that the rising cost of fossil fuels is pointing us in this direction any way. And do we want lead development of some of the technologies of the future or buy them from the Chinese?

  102. Mark Lynas says:

    In reply to Mike: your cumulative emissions budget is, as you say, predicated on global ‘contraction and convergence’, where carbon is apportioned out equally amongst the world’s population. I don’t think this is realistic – it is not carbon the world’s poor need, it is energy. Some of the poorest countries now have amibitous mitigation targets which mean they will never have anything like the carbon emissions that we do, and will suffer no disbenefits as a consequence. If the Maldives succeeds in being carbon neutral by 2020, its per-capita emissions (if you accept offsetting for residuals like aviation) will functionally be zero. So I think your budget estimates are pessimistic – it is the carbon hogs like us and the US who will have the hardest time kicking the habit.

    I think this pathways analysis has been extremely useful, and it really brings up some issues for me. Of course there is no slider yet for ‘political acceptability of lifestyle change to benefit the climate’ on the model, but given the backlash we are seeing already in much of the media, I don’t put much hope down that line. Hence my focus on low/zero-carbon supply, whilst allowing people to travel more and live in warmer houses as they likely will want to. My pathway has strong energy efficiency but increasing energy demand, which I think is realistic given that no-one (serious) wants to stop economic growth – try floating that argument in the midst of a double-dip recession.

    My big ‘if’ is the geosequestration factor. I am only reaching the 2050 target by including CCS to remove an equivalent amount of CO2 that still remains in industry, agriculture and other places. I would prefer to have no coal in the mix whatsoever, but the model doesn’t seem to allow me to have biomass-only CCS power stations.

    Of course cost is the other big upcoming issue, which will apparently be dealt with in a 3.0 version of this exercise. We could cover all walls and roofs with solar PV, but I suspect we would run out of money long before the process is completed! Having said that, what the price curve might be for renewables – especially the unproven wave farms and tidal stream – over future decades is, as with CCS, anyone’s guess.

    There are actually a lot of similarities between us. Okay, so Mike and Dustin tend to have higher renewables and more demand reduction to stay off nuclear, but there seems to be general agreement that we are going to need vastly more offshore wind, better interconnections with Europe, some CCS and no-regrets energy efficiency. I think this is very positive – we can get away from the divisive pro/anti arguments on different energy options, and agree that a sensible mix is needed.

  103. Mike, I share your concerns r.e. CCS.

    Can anyone point me to an organisation that’s actually progressing the engineering concerned with CCS? Or even better, a successful demonstrator project.

    If not, why are we even discussing it?!

  104. David Clarke says:

    You undoubtedly had the most aggressive cumulative emissions approach Mike.
    I will become a cracked record on this I’m sure but …… I’m not clear how we afford the necessary cumulative emissions reductions whilst sustaining economic growth and as we enter a global competition for limited supply-chain capacity.

    One thing is very clear and the (limited) options in the calculator pull this out quite well – rapid delivery of demand reduction over the next 10 years is going to be critical. It is not just going to be technology that does that, much of it has to be behavioural and societal change. How do we make that happen without alienating large portions of society ?

    • David,

      I don’t think we can sustain growth…

      I’m glad I never studied economics, it has probably made the reality of the current global economic ponzi (pyramid) scheme far more easy to digest. I believe the books below paint some hopeful portraits / visions that can be helpful in guiding our way out of the mess we’re in.

       “The New Economics” – http://j.mp/igpe0y – from the intro:
      “Economics sometimes seems to be stacked against social, environmental and individual well-being. But it doesn’t have to be like this. A new approach to economics – deriving as much from Ruskin and Schumacher as from Keynes or Smith – has begun to emerge. Sceptical about money as a measure of success, this new economics turns our assumptions about wealth and poverty upside down. It shows us that real wealth can be measured by increased well-being and environmental sustainability rather than just having and consuming more things.”
      For some of the thinking behind this book, look at the links to downloadable reports at the bottom of the page. This one in particular is a great title: “Debt relief as if justice mattered” – http://j.mp/gijoQR – developed thinking that came out of the jubilee 2000 effort to cancel 3rd world debt… Shame that now that the UK has an external debt as % of GDP: 428.8% (source: http://j.mp/eS99rV), it’s probably us that need rescuing…

       “Prosperity without Growth” – http://j.mp/eyhH5N – from a review:
      “Economic growth may be the world’s secular religion, but as Jackson eloquently describes, it is a god that is failing today – underperforming for most of the world’s people and, for those of us in affluent societies, creating more problems than it is solving. It destroys the environment, fuels a ruthless international search for energy and other resources, and rests on a manufactured consumerism that is not meeting the deepest human needs. Jackson therefore calls upon us not just to restore the economy but to reinvent it, and to realize a true prosperity beyond growth. In this pathbreaking book, Jackson offers a bold agenda for system change.”
      For the (last) government funded report that sparked the book – http://j.mp/ht4RQB

       A very simplified short version of the above can be come by for the time poor in the form of the position statement here: http://j.mp/i7NFGU

  105. Interesting points, Mike. Since undertaking this exercise last week, I have had further conflicting thoughts about it all. Partly, it’s because we are peering into a future 40 years away with a set of tools based firmly in 2011. Who would have guessed back in 1971 that we would be holding an online debate today?

    It’s not difficult to imagine a world of abundant and relatively cheap low carbon electricity by 2050, and such a world would largely solve the problems confronting us today and make it easy for us to continue with our affluent lifestyles.

    Equally well, it’s just as easy to forsee dreadful environmental degradation causing all manner of hardships for great swathes of the human population, and here the message is that we must breed less, consume less and generally be prepared for a tough time.

    The problem for me is that I am not clever enough to see what will be happening in 2050 and whether we will have either solved the supply side issue or be applying all our minds to the demand side problem.

  106. Mike Childs says:

    I don’t want to be a party pooper on what is an excellent exercise. But all of our cumulative carbon budgets (total amount of emissions), mine included, are way over a budget that would give a good chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.
    A carbon budget that would give roughly a 70 per cent chance of avoiding 2 degrees – the temperature politicians have said we must not cross – would be around 10GTCO2e between 2010 and 2050. My pathway has the smallest carbon budget but is still 30 per cent over giving just a 50:50 chance of avoiding 2 degrees. Duncan, David, Keith and Mark all have budgets more than 40 per cent over. This gives only a 40 per cent chance of avoiding 2 degrees.

    I think I could reduce my budget to close to the 10GTCO2e target through using CCS on gas plants (my pathway has no coal after 2025), reducing the growth in international aviation, and if geo-sequestration was maximised.

    But although I’m an optimist I’m wary of relying on geo-sequestration working. So speculatively my budget may also be reduced through a faster roll-out of marine renewables, reducing the amount of stuff we all buy and therefore reducing the need for growth in heavy industry, and through making much bigger reductions in meat and dairy consumption which may release some more land for more biomass (although for food security reasons I suggest the first priority for this land-use is probably reducing our existing demand on overseas land).

    What do you think?

    Mike
    p.s. the 10GTCO2e, which includes international aviation and shipping emissions, is calculated by sharing out the remaining global carbon budget equally between nations based on population size. It ignores historical emissions.

    • Helena Wright says:

      My question is, is DECC researching the impact of different energy strategies upon food security? We know that biofuels were one of the drivers of the food crisis of 2008 and that rising food prices have contributed to current instability.

      The 2050 Pathways Analysis Report itself states that above 350 kha of bioenergy production there could be an impact on food production (Ref No. 203). Yet in the My2050 simulation, the minimum level of bioenergy is set at an area half the size of Wales, which is about 1036 kha… Shouldn’t there be an indicator that shows “food security” as well as “energy security” (as the two are interlinked)? I also think it would be great if there could be an option to promote reduced demand for meat, although this may be controversial (but perhaps people will consider if for health reasons?). I agree it is crucial for agriculture and food security to be part of the analysis.

Leave a Reply

DECC @YouTube

DECC's YouTube feed

Share DECC's YouTube Channel

view all

Partners & Help