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UK government response to climate change recommendations focuses on nuclear power

The UK government has released its response to the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) recommendations to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The CCC’s progress report, published in June 2016, focused on its priorities for the UK Government’s forthcoming emissions reduction plan.

The response report, however, fails to give high hopes to the renewables industry, despite the government’s acknowledgement of the Energy and Climate Change Committee’s warning of the UK missing its 2020 climate targets.

The CCC recommended in June that the government should “bring forward an approach to deploying the cheapest low carbon [energy] generation”, but in its response the government states it will continue to view new nuclear power “as a key part” of UK energy supply.

“The government will remain in close contact as developers progress plans for further new nuclear power plants,” the report states.

In addition to nuclear power, there are plans to set out details for future Contract for Difference (CtF) auctions for “less mature technologies”, which have in the past consisted mostly of bioenergy, wind, and solar installations.

Such auctions were promised already towards the end of the previous coalition government, but the plans failed to ever materialise.

Biogas gets a mention also in the plans to decarbonise heat in buildings, where it is listed among the potential technologies to be considered, along with heat pumps and hydrogen.

Regarding the carbon capture and storage (CCS) plans, the report states the government will “consider closely” the recommendations relating to the technology and set out a future approach “in due course”.

Biomass came up in the CCC’s recommendation to “drive sustained uptake of low carbon heat in industrial processes and buildings through sustainable biomass”.

The government report underlines the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as the “main policy” supporting the deployment of renewable and low-carbon heating technologies, including biomass, but does not outline any further future progress.

Biofuels and innovation

In biofuels, the government says it has demonstrated its “commitment to the biofuel industry” by providing £25 million (€27.6m) in investment in advanced biofuels.

“We aim to consult later this year on proposals to increase the supply of sustainable biofuels to meet our climate change commitments. We want to set long term supply targets to give certainty to industry, incentivise the production of advanced biofuels, support their use in aviation and freight and set a sustainable level for crop derived biofuels,” the report reads.

It also confirms the government’s intention of having all car and van sales in the UK be zero emission vehicles by 2040 and to consult later in the year on proposals to increase the levels of biofuels in the UK fuel supply.

Innovation is listed in the report as having an important role in decarbonising the UK energy sector and the government intends to define its further commitment to supporting new science and technologies “in due course”.