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New report warns UK must deploy new green technologies to meet climate targets

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A new report from Drax and Imperial College London has warned that the UK must deploy new green technologies to help the UK meet its climate targets, despite renewables generating more power than fossil fuels for the first time.

The independent analysis conducted by academics for Drax Electric Insights, via Imperial Consultants, shows the UK will require a range of new green technologies, which complement renewables like wind and solar, as part of its efforts to meet its national climate targets.

While power from renewables overtook fossil fuels for the first time in 2020, and carbon emissions fell by 16% year-on-year, this was in large part due to reduced demand caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, when gas and coal power stations were turned town.

Wind and solar generated 30% of the UK’s electricity in 2020 – around half of the share required by 2025 for the UK to reach its climate targets, according to the Climate Change Committee.

The report says new green technologies such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and hydrogen to meet the ambitious climate targets it has set itself.

Dr Iain Staffell of Imperial College London and lead author of the quarterly Electric Insights report, said: “2020 saw the UK edge closer to the power system of the future with renewables generating more power than fossil fuels. Flexible technologies like pumped hydro storage kept the system stable as supply from renewables increased and demand for power fell.

“The next steps we must take towards a net-zero power system will be more challenging – driving out the last sources of fossil carbon will require us to go beyond just having more wind and solar power.

“New business models, backed by policy and investment, will be needed to bring advanced but proven technologies into the mainstream. This means that the electricity used in homes, hospitals, offices, and factories could even be carbon negative – sourced from a range of low, zero-carbon and negative emissions technologies.”

In 2020, a report by Vivid Economics found that deploying cutting-edge green technologies like BECCS and hydrogen could create and support around 200,000 jobs across the UK to support a post-COVID, green economic recovery.

Will Gardiner, CEO of Drax Group, commented: “Drax is Europe’s largest decarbonisation project having transformed the UK’s biggest power station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, creating the country’s largest single-site renewable electricity generator while supporting thousands of jobs.

“Biomass is unique among renewable technologies due to its versatility, from being used in power generation to hydrogen production – and even new forms of plastics. Add to this its ability to deliver negative emissions with BECCS – biomass is one of our most valuable tools for reaching net-zero emissions – a technology Drax is ready to invest in.”