July 9, 2018 Read More →

Continued price cuts to make U.K. renewables competitive with existing gas in 2020s

Renew Economy:

It could be cheaper for the UK to build new wind and solar farms in the 2020s than to keep running some existing gas plants, according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

This surprising insight comes in new scenarios for the UK power sector up to 2030, published last week in the committee’s annual report to parliament. They show how the sector can help meet the UK’s carbon targets, by cutting CO2 output to no more than 100g per kilowatt hour (100g CO2/kWh).

The new scenarios include much more wind and solar than before, but less nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS). This reflects much faster than expected falls in the cost of renewables since the previous scenarios were published in 2015, as well as slow progress on new nuclear and delays for CCS.

In terms of low-carbon power capacity, the UK now has 13 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind and 13 GW of solar. It also has 9 GW of nuclear, 7 GW of offshore wind and 6 GW of biomass. Together, these low-carbon sources supplied just over half of the electricity generated in the UK last year—more than coal, oil and gas combined. Nuclear was the largest low-carbon contributor, followed by wind, biomass and solar.

These cost reductions are so dramatic that it could now be cheaper to build new renewables in the mid-2020s than to continue running some existing gas plants or to import electricity from overseas, the CCC says. This means building new renewables is a low-regrets option, it says.

More: New UK renewables ‘could be cheaper than existing gas plants by 2030’

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