Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pathways to a Low Carbon Economy: What will it take for the UK?

01.12.2008
Deep cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions consistent with the UK’s 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction target by 2050 are technologically and economically feasible.

However, these cuts will require fundamental shifts in technology and behaviour. Much more ambitious policies are needed if the 2050 target, as well as 2020 targets for CO2 and renewable energy, are to be met. These are among the key findings obtained by UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) researchers in a working report published today.

The report explores CO2 emission reductions of 26-39% (from 1990 levels) by 2020 and 40-90% by 2050. The deep cuts in emissions will require three things:

a. Virtual decarbonisation of the electricity sector with progressively larger deployments of coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS), nuclear and wind
b. increased energy end-use efficiency, and demand reductions of up to 25%, particularly in the industrial and residential sectors

c. more efficient vehicles and a switch to lower carbon transport technologies such as bio-fuels, electric or hydrogen fuel–cell vehicles.

Under all scenarios, de-carbonising the power sector is key. This will enable further low-carbon choices in the transport sector (e.g. plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles) and in buildings (electric heat pumps). Social policies to enable demand reduction and a bridge to new transport infrastructures are required.

A number of the low-carbon electricity technologies are not yet available on a commercial basis. Government support is urgently needed for the demonstration and commercialisation of CCS and renewable technologies. Reliable carbon pricing, for example through a strengthened EU Emissions Trading Scheme, will be necessary for the deployment of all low-carbon electricity technologies.

Emission reductions of 40% - 90% by 2050 will entail significant costs. The annual loss in welfare could range from £5 - £52 billion in 2050. In particular, moving from a 60% to an 80% reduction almost doubles welfare costs from £20 - £39 billion. Although these numbers are large, they need to be set in the context of likely UK GDP in excess of £3 trillion by 2050.

The additional cost of obtaining an extra unit of CO2 reduction (marginal cost) could range from as low as £20/tCO2 in a 40% reduction scenario up to £300/tCO2 in the 90% scenario. The price of carbon will need to rise significantly if ambitious emission cuts are to be achieved.

The mixture of technologies and patterns of behaviour adopted by 2050 depends critically on the timing of action to reduce CO2 emissions, especially in the transport sector. Taking a long term perspective means giving greater weight to costs incurred in the more distant future. This implies early action and the selection of options with higher up-front and infrastructure costs. In transport, this means less reliance on bio-fuels and the greater diffusion of electric hybrid plug-in and hydrogen vehicles.

Report author Dr Neil Strachan of Kings College London & UKERC researcher said: “Near-term government policy should provide viable options; in the long term society through market mechanisms should decide the winning technology portfolio”.

UKERC Research Director Professor Jim Skea said: “These results show that there is an urgent need to deploy key low carbon technologies and put in place policies that will stimulate behavioural change if the UK 2020 and 2050 targets are to be met”.

Patricia Luna | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/ResearchProgrammes/UKERC2050
http://www.ukerc.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>