Running alongside the exhibition in the afternoon was a discussion with an invited audience of 70 key influencers from the Manchester community. Following an introduction by Mark Atherton and Cllr. Swannick focusing on how Greater Manchester is tackling the challenge locally, it was time to get down to business. Led by David MacKay and Mark Lynas, the audience were given the considerable task of reducing UK emissions by 80% by 2050, using DECC’s 2050 Calculator.
On the demand side, the audience wanted off-the-scale changes in domestic transport behaviour and 100% zero emission transport by 2050. And the UK would see big changes to its homes with over 24 million houses insulated and the average temperature decreasing to 17º Celsius by 2050. Industry will grow at the same levels as today but the audience would like to see ambitious changes in international aviation, international shipping and commercial lighting and appliances.
Where does the UK in 2050 get its energy from? Well, our audience would like to see a four times increase in nuclear power, as well as big increases in tidal stream and range and onshore and offshore wind. 5% of land area in 2050 will also be used to grow energy crops. Interestingly, the vast majority of the audience did not view Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a solution to the energy challenge facing us and voted against a roll-out of the technology.
As expected with an audience of this expertise questions about energy and the 2050 Calculator abounded – which included some useful suggestions about how it can be improved in the future! From the difficulty of balancing the grid with a high amount of solar, to whether waste heat from nuclear can be used in district heating, it is clear that the calculator provoked much interest in the challenge and the energy choices facing us.
As the discussion drew to a close, the ambitious 80% emissions reduction target remained slightly out of reach. Encouragingly though, there was a definite appetite amongst the audience to continue the conversation outside the room and to look at what the UK needs to do to meet the energy challenge.
You can find the pathway agreed on in the session below. The time available for the session precluded the room from discussing all the options available in the calculator, so it is worth noting that this does not provide a full picture. For example, the audience were unable to discuss a range of renewable energy sources including wave, solar panels for hot water, geothermal electricity and hydroelectric power stations.
Would you like to take part in a discussion on what the UK’s energy mix could look like in 2050? We have events coming up in Newcastle on 20th September and Bristol on 10th October. Register for Newcastle and Bristol.