Low carbon electricity cheaper than gas

Renewables are now cost competitive with other forms of energy.

The Committee on Climate Change has recommended the Government use low carbon electricity to meet carbon targets, rather than gas.

The Government’s advisory panel on climate change has said that low carbon is a cheaper way to produce power and will also help meet carbon targets in the 2020’s.

Low carbon energy includes most forms of renewable energy, including onshore wind, offshore wind and solar.

The Committee on Climate Change says that these forms of energy are competitive in  terms of price when you look at the cost imposed on society by carbon emissions from gas.

This report comes after the Government recently announced that there would be cuts to renewable energy investment, alongside the announcement of a new nuclear power plant in Hinkley Point, Somerset.

The committee has urged the Government to re-evaluate the current budget for renewables after the Treasury cut subsidies for the sector due to an overspend on the budget.

Friends of the Earth senior energy campaigner, Simon Bullock commented: “The Government’s own advisers say it will be cheaper to use low-carbon electricity rather than gas to power our economy in the 2020s.

“Ministers should be championing the UK renewable sector, instead of strangling the life out of solar and on-shore wind, threatening tens of thousands of jobs and pushing up bills in the future. Energy bill payers and our climate will pay a hefty price for the Government’s costly and short sighted obsession with gas, oil and fracking.”

The Government has commissioned another report into the full costs of renewable. The results of that report are expected to show that solar and wind are more expensive than they first appear because of the cost of back up generating when it’s not windy or sunny.

PV solar panels from Lightsource Renewable Energy
Solar panel farms becoming more cost competitive.

Although The Committee on Climate Change says that its report – released today – factors those costs in, and that renewables are still on par with nuclear with no costs for disposing waste.

The report also estimates that the low carbon investments will have an annual cost of about £15 to the bill payer.

The Committee on Climate Change is meant to advise the Government about how to stay on course to meet the target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by the year 2050 in the most effective and the cheapest way possible.

Lord Deben, chair of the committee, added: “The 2020s are crucial in setting the direction for UK power generation, and to ensure the UK can meet its 2050 climate change commitments cost-effectively.

“The key tools are already in place to deliver the investment in low-carbon generation that is required.

“The Government must now urgently clarify the direction of future policy to ensure the power sector can decarbonise at lowest cost to businesses and households.”