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The war on carbon: the end of the beginning?

A new publication from SAV warns that there is a critical bottleneck in the transmission and distribution of renewable energy in the UK – and that this imposes severe constraints on meeting the country’s decarbonisation aspirations.

Entitled ‘The War on Carbon: The End of the Beginning?’, the document calls to mind Winston Churchill, suggesting that the expansion of wind farms “is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

The authors argue that using wind power only as electricity makes it very difficult to balance the electricity grid. They therefore suggest that this ‘hard electrification’ is not the answer. Rather, a ‘sector coupling’ approach that sees wholesale decarbonisation of power and gas networks is more pragmatic and cost-effective.

SAV managing director, Lars Fabricius, noted: “Clear choices are emerging, two of which are so-called ‘hard electrification’ and ‘sector coupling’. An important difference between them is energy storage. The contrast in cost and carbon reduction potential is significant, which is why the UK needs to consider its options very carefully.”

The 12-page publication considers the issues of energy storage by power-to-gas and power-to-heat, and goes on to describe a sector-coupled installation. It addresses the elements within SAP 10.1 which are not supportive of heat networks or the Energy Trilemma.

29 January 2020

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