LATEST

Reactive to Secretary of State Greg Clark's speech on the Cost of Energy Review

15th November 2018

Reacting to Secretary of State Greg Clark's speech on the Cost of Energy Review, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: "The Secretary of State announced some important principles today that give a better sense of the government's long-term energy policy direction. However, if the UK is to have an affordable and low carbon power system, the government's upcoming policy paper needs to tackle how cheap and mature forms of renewable energy can have a route to market, how interconnection links with the EU will continue to grow after Brexit, what the carbon price trajectory will look like in the 2020s and how large consumers of electricity can be rewarded for providing flexibility services to the grid [1]."

—ENDS—

[1] UCL (2018) UK industrial electricity prices: competitiveness in a low carbon world http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#removing-barriers-to-mature-renewables-key-to-lowering-industrial-electricity-prices

GG face

Budget 2018 doesn’t live up to government’s clean growth ambitions

29th October 2018

Reacting to the Budget presented to Parliament today by the Chancellor Philip Hammond, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Despite some positive announcements on industrial energy efficiency and plastics, today’s budget – and the way in which it was presented – did little to match the commitment to clean growth the government showed during Green GB Week. The creation of an industrial energy transformation fund is welcome and targets public funding at an essential part of the economy that needs support to cut its emissions, but it would be made even more effective if combined with measures to support a renewed roll-out of onshore renewable energy to lower power prices for industry [1].”
 
Nick Molho added: “As the red book recognises today, ‘the economy of the future will be low carbon and green’ and the UK is well positioned to compete in this global transition. It is essential that the government backs its commitment to clean growth in the next Spending Review and upcoming legislation. Priorities should include introducing new regulations and fiscal incentives to accelerate energy efficiency investments in domestic and commercial buildings, accelerating the phase out of polluting vehicles and roll out of electric vehicles, providing clear visibility to investors on carbon pricing and introducing an ambitious Environment Bill with legally binding goals that drives improvements in the natural environment.”

—ENDS—

[1] UCL (2018) UK industrial electricity prices: competitiveness in a low carbon world http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#removing-barriers-to-mature-renewables-key-to-lowering-industrial-electricity-prices

Red box

UK shows welcome leadership on net zero emissions

15th October 2018

Reacting to the UK government’s announcement today that it is commissioning independent advice from the Committee on Climate Change on the setting of a net zero target, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Just a week after the publication of the IPCC report highlighting the importance of limiting temperate rises to 1.5°C, the Prime Minister and her government deserve credit for making a formal referral to the CCC to investigate how a net zero emissions target could be set in the UK. The development of such a target, which is receiving growing public and cross-party support [1], could provide significant supply chain growth and export opportunities for the UK if it is accompanied by a clear plan of action.” [2]

Nick Molho added: “In parallel with the CCC developing its advice, it is essential that the government continues progress on its Clean Growth Strategy to deliver on current climate targets. Greater policy detail is urgently needed to drive energy efficiency improvements in commercial and domestic buildings, increase the take-up of zero emission vehicles and support the growth of onshore renewable energy which is key to deliver affordable industrial power prices [3]. Targeted innovation support will also increasingly be needed to support businesses in sectors where emission cuts are more complex to achieve such as agriculture, heavy industry and long-distance transport.” 

—ENDS—

[1] Bright Blue (2018) Hotting up: Strengthening the Climate Change Act ten years on

63% of UK adults when the UK to be a global leader in tackling climate change and 64% of UK adults agree the UK should aim to cut its carbon emission to zero in the next few decades. https://brightblue.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Hotting-up.pdf

See also Cross-party MP joint letter on net zero emissions target ahead of 2050: https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/joint-letter

[2] The UK cut its emissions by 43% since 1990, leading the G7, and grew its economy by over 70% in the same period. With strengths in areas such as offshore wind and electric vehicle manufacturing, energy efficient building design, green financial and legal services, and ICT solutions, UK businesses have a strong basis from which to accelerate emission cuts and be at the forefront of the development of the new clean technologies and services which the world economy will increasingly demand. See Committee on Climate Change (2018) Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament.pdf

[3] UCL (2018) UK industrial electricity prices: competitiveness in a low carbon world  http://www.aldersgategroup.org.uk/latest#removing-barriers-to-mature-renewables-key-to-lowering-industrial-electricity-prices

Big ben

Aiming for net zero emissions is a major opportunity for UK plc

8th October 2018

Reacting to the publication today of the International Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5 degrees, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “This report from the world’s leading climate scientists is clear that there are compelling environmental, economic and social benefits to limiting the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees as envisaged in the Paris Agreement. Whilst achieving such a target will require challenging emission cuts across the economy, important progress has already been made and an increase in ambition would unlock a significant innovation and investment opportunity.

The UK cut its emissions by 43% since 1990, leading the G7, and grew its economy by over 70% in the same period. [1] With strengths in areas such as offshore wind and electric vehicle manufacturing, energy efficient building design and green financial and legal services, UK businesses have a strong basis from which to accelerate emission cuts and be at the forefront of the development of the new clean technologies and services which the world economy will increasingly demand.”

Nick Molho added: “Major economies now need to increase their existing emissions reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement and adopt net zero emissions targets in line with the conclusions of the IPCC report. The Prime Minister made the right call when she announced at the UN General Assembly that the UK will be joining the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, especially as this follows growing public backing [2] and cross-party support for a net zero target. [3]

The government must now begin work towards legislating for such a target in the UK, by rapidly acting on its commitment to seek the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on how the UK can ensure its climate targets are aligned with the 1.5 degrees goal. Backed by detailed policies, such a target would accelerate investment in ultra-low emission goods, services and infrastructure and support the innovation needed to tackle emission cuts in more challenging sectors such as land management, agriculture, long-distance transport and heavy industry.”

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investors, said: "Aviva Investors understands the business imperative of tackling climate change. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimated that, left unabated, climate change will cost the global economy $43tn in today’s prices. This is not a risk we can afford to take.

Keeping global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees will help safeguard our investment portfolios and protect our customers savings. The long term negative financial consequences of climate change are far, far greater than the short term financial risks of transitioning to the Paris Agreement. Today’s report reiterates the need for policymakers to accelerate action to reduce carbon emissions and meet the agreed aims of the Paris Agreement.”

Gabrielle Ginér, Head of Environmental Sustainability, BT, said: “Recognising the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, BT set a science-based target in line with a 1.5 degree trajectory in September 2017. Our target is to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of our operations by 87% by 2030 against a 2016/17 baseline. We welcome this report by the IPCC and hope that other organisations and policymakers will follow suit in setting 1.5 degree targets.”

Pia Heidenmark Cook, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group, said: “This latest IPCC report on climate change reinforces the urgent need for action from every part of society. The science and facts are clear and that is why IKEA has set an ambition to be climate positive by 2030, reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than what the IKEA value chain emits.

Setting stretching science based targets is essential for achieving this. We will contribute by decarbonising our energy use including electricity and heating, using zero-emissions deliveries, moving to a circular business model and enabling millions of customers and co-workers to take climate action in their everyday lives.

We firmly believe that together with other businesses joining the climate action movement, we can help to create a positive future and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” 

Benet Northcote, Director, Corporate Responsibility, John Lewis Partnership, said: “The Paris Accord was a great moment of hope as countries came together to tackle the challenge of climate change. Today's IPCC report confirms that it is possible to achieve what we need to, but only if everyone responds with speed and ambition. It is not too late, but there can be no delay.  

Fortunately, we know what is needed and I am pleased that the John Lewis Partnership is responding in our operations and through our supply chains. We have already cut our operational emission intensity by nearly 70% since 2010 and over the coming months we will be unveiling the next stage in our plans to reduce our environmental impact and emissions even further. Waitrose & Partners continues to lead in its commitment to truly sustainable agriculture, while John Lewis & Partners is pioneering circular economy solutions that will lessen humanity's impact on the environment."

Meryam Omi, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Investment Strategy, Legal & General Investment Management, said: “Climate science is unequivocal in showing the benefits of action to finance a low-carbon future. But we have to act now. From large investors to individuals who choose their own pension fund, our option must be the one that makes sense financially and for the planet.”

Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business, Plan A, Marks & Spencer, said: “The IPCC continues to provide the sound science we need to make profound decisions about how we run the economy globally. It’s a powerful reminder that business as usual is unsustainable and even climate action 1.0, as inspired by COP21, is insufficient. We need to take bolder, faster action and shift our mind-set to one of embracing the inevitability and opportunity of the low carbon economy.”

Nicolas Beaumont, Senior Vice President Sustainable Development and Mobility, Michelin Group, said: “Michelin is firmly committed to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and the subsequent necessity to limit the increase of temperatures to 1.5 degrees. Fighting climate change is essential and not an option and it is only by working together that we will be able to face this challenge. That’s why Michelin has set up its annual global summit Movin’On which aims to go from ambition to action while bringing together all stakeholders from the transport sector to invent the mobility of the future.

We welcome any initiative by the UK government to decarbonise the transport sector, by encouraging electric and hydrogen powertrains, and by ensuring the effective pricing of carbon. This will help us ensure we continue to bring to market the most effective products and services, through our continuous R&D efforts and by reducing the CO2 impact of our offerings. Now more than ever, our aim is to ensure that transport is safe, green, efficient and accessible.”

Sarah Handley, Carbon Neutral Programme Manager, Siemens plc, said: "By providing innovative technologies, Siemens is a leading partner for decarbonisation for our customers and society. We welcome the IPCC’s report on the benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees which supports the urgency of delivering the Paris Agreement goals. Siemens has set targets to achieve net zero-carbon status by 2030. We urge the government to review the UK Climate targets to help shape the low carbon economy."

Danielle Lane, UK Country Manager, Vattenfall, said: “Vattenfall strongly welcomes the IPCC’s new special report on the Paris Agreement. We are seriously concerned that the combined effect of the pledges for reduced GHG emissions in national plans to date may cause the temperature to continue to rise above 3 °C. It is vital that governments take heed of the IPCC report and let it guide them when updating their respective pledges under the Paris Agreement to ensure that these conform with global objectives.”

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP, said: “Ambitious carbon free strategies drive business innovation and growth. That’s why the UK must continue to be a leader and why we’re challenging all our colleagues to design Future Ready buildings and transport networks – ready for the future as well as today. And business has to lead too. At WSP we’ve set a target to be carbon neutral by 2025 – because we want to do the right thing and because our colleagues want us to lead.”

—ENDS—

[1] Committee on Climate Change (2018) Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament.pdf

[2] Bright Blue (2018) Hotting up: Strengthening the Climate Change Act ten years on

63% of UK adults when the UK to be a global leader in tackling climate change and 64% of UK adults agree the UK should aim to cut its carbon emission to zero in the next few decades. https://brightblue.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Hotting-up.pdf

[3] Cross-party MP joint letter on net zero emissions target ahead of 2050: https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/joint-letter

UK expertise to help developing countries tackle climate change and move to cleaner energy: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-expertise-to-help-developing-countries-tackle-climate-change-and-move-to-cleaner-energy?utm_source=116d819e-3284-4ce7-ba27-0f20242c25f3&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

Labour announces zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050: http://www.itv.com/news/2018-09-24/labour-to-commit-to-zero-net-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-2050/

IPCC

UK must accelerate transition to zero emission vehicles

11th September 2018

Coinciding with the global Zero Emission Vehicles Summit held in Birmingham today, the Aldersgate Group launches a new briefing, Driving ambition: accelerating the transition to zero emission vehicles, [1] setting out key business recommendations for rapidly cutting road transport emissions in the UK. The Group argues that to significantly cut emissions in line with climate targets and put the UK at the forefront of the zero emission vehicle industry, government must provide much greater clarity on regulations, fiscal incentives and innovation support to drive manufacturing and demand.

Transport is now the largest-emitting sector of the UK economy, accounting for 28% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, with road transport the most significant form of emissions within the sector. Hitting the UK’s current climate targets requires the transport sector to cut emissions by 46% by 2030. [2] While the need to decarbonise is urgent, the opportunities of doing so for the UK are also great. The global market for low emission vehicles could be worth £1-2tn per year by 2030, and £3.6-7.6tn per year by 2050 [3] and significantly cutting emissions from road transport would deliver air quality and health benefits. The UK is well placed to capture a significant part of this low emission vehicle global market, with just one Nissan plant in Sunderland producing a fifth of all electric vehicles sold in Europe in 2016. [4]

To seize this economic and environmental opportunity, the Aldersgate Group urges the government to:

  1. Drive consumer uptake of the cleanest vehicles by extending the plug-in car and van grants until such a time that electric vehicles reach cost parity with conventional cars, which is not expected to happen until the mid-2020s. [5] The government should also consider boosting demand further through fiscal incentives, including significant VAT cuts on the sale of zero emission vehicles.  
  2. Provide much greater clarity on how vehicle emissions are to reduce in the 2020s after the UK leaves the EU. This should include providing clarity on whether the UK will remain part of the current EU rules on car, van and HGV emission targets or whether the UK will develop its own framework to drive down emissions. The government will also need to consider regulatory measures to tackle the limited supply of zero emission vehicles on the market, such as by introducing mandatory zero emission vehicles sales targets as a backstop.
  3. Deliver an affordable, efficient and reliable charging infrastructure by accelerating roll out of charging infrastructure to support 100% electric new car and van sales by 2030 and introducing standards on smart charging. Public funding to support charging infrastructure should be targeted where the market will not deliver such as in rural areas and should include offering guarantees against the unknown cost of connecting the chargers to the electricity grid to lower investment risk.
  4. Plan now for the future by looking at how the overall efficiency of the transport system can be improved. This should include planning long-term improvements to the accessibility, affordability and reliability of public transport (including working with cities and local authorities), encouraging a shift from road freight to rail, preparing for connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as facilitating disruptor businesses such as car sharing services. This will also require developing a sustainable future road tax system.

Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Significantly cutting emissions from road transport is both an urgent environmental imperative and a unique economic opportunity for the UK. We will only get there however if the government provides much greater clarity on how vehicle emissions need to reduce in the 2020s, provides stable grant and tax incentives to drive consumer demand and stands ready to take the necessary measures to ensure that manufacturers play their part in meeting the public and business demand for clean vehicles.”  
 
“If we are to fully decarbonise transport by 2050, technological changes are only part of the picture. The government also needs to plan ahead and consider the shifts in travel patterns and infrastructure needs that are required to improve the overall efficiency of the transport system, from passenger travel to freight transport.”

—ENDS—
 
The Aldersgate Group will be exploring some of wider issues involved in decarbonising the transport sector in a comprehensive report early next year. This will include planning long-term improvements to the accessibility, affordability and reliability of public transport (including working with cities and local authorities), encouraging a shift from road freight to rail, preparing for connected and autonomous vehicles, as well as facilitating disruptor businesses such as car sharing services.

[1] The briefing can be found here.
 
[2] Committee on Climate Change Progress report to Parliament 2018: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament.pdf
 
[3] Road to Zero (2018): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/724391/road-to-zero.pdf
 
[4] Green Alliance: How the UK can lead the electric vehicle revolution (2018)
https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/How_the_UK_can_lead_the_electric_vehicle_revolution.php
 
[5] Bloomberg New Economic Forecast: Electric Vehicle Outlook 2018
https://about.bnef.com/electric-vehicle-outlook/        


UK must up the pace on its clean vehicles ambition

9th July 2018

Reacting to the publication today of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

“With transport now the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases across the UK economy [1], the publication of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy should mark an important milestone in the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change and boost clean growth. However, despite welcome measures to support the roll out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and innovation, this strategy fails to support the rapid pace of change that is needed to deliver climate targets and put the UK at the forefront of the global clean vehicles market [2]. Transport emissions need to reduce by at least 46% by 2030 for the UK to meet its fifth carbon budget [3], which requires a phase out of conventional petrol and diesel cars far ahead of 2040.”   

Nick Molho added: “Given the UK’s strengths in manufacturing ultra-low emissions vehicles and world leading battery research, it is essential that the government provides strong regulatory and policy support to accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles and ensure that UK businesses are amongst the best placed to capitalise on this emerging market. This requires building on the charging infrastructure measures announced today by bringing forward the phase out date for the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles, providing support for the purchase of ultra-low emission vans beyond October 2018 and cars beyond 2020, and delivering on its commitment to simplify the regime for drivers to access local charging points.”

[1] Transport accounted for 28% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017. Committee on Climate Change Progress report to Parliament 2018: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament.pdf

[2] The global clean vehicles market is estimated to be worth up to £7.6tn by 2050 by government. The UK automotive sector employs over 160,000 people and generates £40bn in exports, accounting for 7.3% of the UK’s total exports of goods and services. UK Automotive Council 2017: https://www.automotivecouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2017/03/UK-Automotive-Sector-Core-Briefing-March-2017.pdf

[3] Transport emissions must reduce by 46% between 2017 and 2030 for the UK to remain on a cost-effective pathway to meet its climate targets. Committee on Climate Change Progress report to Parliament 2018: https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CCC-2018-Progress-Report-to-Parliament.pdf

used-nissan-leaf

Time for UK clean growth plans to turn into concrete policies

28th June 2018

Reacting to the publication today of the Committee on Climate Change’s 2018 Progress Report, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Despite the positive progress delivered in the power sector and ambition coming out of government, the UK is not on course to deliver its carbon budgets on time or cost effectively. Private sector investment and supply chain growth in areas such as onshore wind and energy efficiency is being hampered by a lack of clear regulations (such as binding EPC targets), fiscal incentives (such as stamp duty rebates) and market mechanisms (such as subsidy free CfDs for onshore wind). 

The vision set out in the government’s Clean Growth Strategy was a positive one but it must urgently be complemented by clear regulations and incentives that will support decarbonisation in sectors that have shown negligible progress by creating project pipelines to drive energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heat provision in buildings, and the growth of an ultra low emissions vehicles market. Without project pipelines that attract long-term business investment in innovation, supply chains and skills, the UK will miss out on its climate targets and its industrial clean growth ambitions.”   

Nick Molho added: “In the power sector, providing a route to market for onshore wind through a new competitive auction round and providing more clarity on the timing and size of future offshore wind auction rounds would do much to cut power prices for UK heavy industry and support continued cost reductions in renewable technologies.” [1]

[1] See Professor Michael Grubb and Paul Drummond (February 2018) UK industrial electricity prices: competitiveness in a low carbon world. This report set out six policy recommendations to support competitive industrial electricity pricesas the UK continues its transition to a low carbon power system including for the government to improve investment conditions for low-cost renewable energy technologies such as onshore wind.

Committee on Climate Change

Ambitious and well-enforced environmental regulations are good for business

10th May 2018

Reacting to the publication of the government’s consultation on a new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “Well-designed, ambitious and properly enforced environmental regulations are essential to economic growth: they provide a stable environment for businesses to invest in, support innovation in new green solutions and products and provide a level playing field across the economy [1]. This consultation to introduce a new Bill to set out environmental principles and a new governance body with statutory underpinning is therefore a significant and positive step forward and has the potential to support improved enforcement of existing legislation and good quality policy making on the environment after the UK has left the EU.”    
 
Nick Molho added: “To maximise regulatory certainty and clarity of policy direction for business, the new Bill should set out environmental principles in legislation, be broadened to include specific environmental improvement goals linked to the delivery of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and should provide the new body with powers to advise government on the delivery of these goals. Environmental gains and business certainty would also be clearly enhanced if devolved administrations played a role in co-designing and owning the new environmental principles and governance body.”

[1] BuroHappold (December 2017) Help or Hindrance? Environmental regulations and competitiveness. This report explores the impacts of ambitious environmental standards on business competitiveness, skills and innovation to conclude that well-designed environmental regulations can deliver positive economic outcomes in the form of increased business investment in innovation and skills, better quality products and infrastructure, greater business competitiveness and job creation. 

naturalengland

Removing barriers to mature renewables key to lowering industrial electricity prices

5th February 2018

Today, the Aldersgate Group publishes a new report written by University College London (UCL) [1], setting out what the government can do to support competitive industrial electricity prices as it delivers its Clean Growth and Industrial Strategies. The report recommends that the UK government improves investment conditions in low-cost renewable energy technologies such as onshore wind, co-ordinates investment in power generation and network infrastructure more efficiently and ensures that the UK leaves the EU in a way that supports increased interconnection with European power grids and cross-border electricity trading. 

This report, written by Professor Michael Grubb and Paul Drummond of UCL, will be launched at an event in London on Monday 5th February [2]. Professor Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at UCL, is available for interview.

Coming shortly after the government has published a Clean Growth and an Industrial Strategy and is reviewing the findings of the Helm Review on energy costs, this report sets out six policy recommendations to provide competitive industrial electricity prices. These recommendations seek to capitalise on the technological revolution underway in the clean power sector to reduce system costs and better align the structure of the electricity market with the UK’s new Industrial Strategy. 

To deliver competitive industrial electricity prices and reduce the gap with prices prevailing in some continental countries, the government should consider:

  1. Removing barriers to investment in mature renewable energy projects, given that technologies like onshore wind no longer need subsidy provided the political risks are minimised. This should be coupled with a resumption of the carbon price escalator, taking effect as coal retires from the UK system in the early 2020s, so that investors have confidence that they will save on fuel and rising carbon costs (with an appropriate compensation mechanism for those electro-intensive businesses in need of support);
  2. Encouraging greater co-ordination between investments in network and generation infrastructure to avoid congestion and inefficient network development. This should be done in conjunction with a review considering how to support electro-intensive companies with network costs;
  3. Ensuring that the UK leaves the EU in a way that retains unrestricted access to the internal energy market and supports continued investment in interconnection with continental grids, which will be essential to maintain system security affordably as the UK electricity system decarbonises. Research suggests that for every 1 GW of additional interconnection, UK wholesale electricity prices could reduce by 1% to 2% [3];
  4. Facilitating cross-border industrial electricity purchases;
  5. Using the five-year review of the Electricity Market Reform and Capacity Market to help UK industrial electricity consumers benefit from providing system-related services to the electricity system, such as demand-shifting and frequency support;
  6. Establishing a long-term market of zero carbon and tradeable electricity contracts to facilitate industry access to low cost and unsubsidised sources of renewable electricity such as onshore wind. Industrial consumers holding these contracts would avoid paying the carbon price.

The fact that UK industrial electricity prices are higher compared to those in countries such as France and Germany has been well documented but this report goes further than previous analysis by considering the drivers behind the evolution of electricity prices and what policy measures can help mitigate unnecessary costs to businesses.

It finds that differences in industrial electricity prices have been driven by the fact that some of the UK’s key continental neighbours tend to be better interconnected and engage in more cross-border electricity trading, are more supportive of long-term contracts to reduce prices for electro-intensive companies, take a more strategic approach to supporting electro-intensive companies with network and policy costs and have historically integrated renewable energy on their system in a more co-ordinated – and therefore cost-effective – way than in the UK (although UK policy is now improving in this regard).

Professor Michael Grubb, UCL, said: “With costs tumbling, the clean energy revolution presents an opportunity for UK industry. But harnessing the benefits will require removing the obstacles to mature renewables including onshore wind, and helping business consumers profit from flexibility. It also means ensuring that both fossil fuels and renewables face their environmental and system costs along with developing smarter energy markets, through which industry can procure its energy efficiently with the most cost-effective renewables.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group, said: “Electro-intensive companies have an important role to play in the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. The government has a wide range of tools available to deliver competitively priced power to those businesses in the years ahead, such as taking a more strategic approach to network development and funding, improving industry access to low cost forms of clean energy and ensuring that Brexit does not get in the way of increased interconnection and cross-border trading with the European electricity market.”

Roz Bulleid, Head of Climate, Energy and Environment Policy, EEF – the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “UCL is to be commended on a thorough investigation of the many complex and interconnected factors driving electricity prices in the UK and on the continent. Energy intensive manufacturers have been concerned for some time about the disparities between UK prices and those paid by their direct competitors. They will be pleased at the recognition of the challenges they face even if the scale of disparity for individual companies may vary beyond the averages necessarily set out here.

As a starting point, government should commission regular assessments of this type, as already happens in some competitor countries, and launch a wider conversation about the impact a more activist approach to electricity prices could have on UK industrial competitiveness.”

Martin Casey, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, CEMEX, said: “This report provides welcomed clarity on some of the challenges facing the cement industry and also puts forward some interesting options to improve the competitiveness of electricity prices which are fundamental to the future success of cement manufacturing in Britain, and consequently to the delivery of the Government's ambitious infrastructure and house building programmes.”

Dr Robert Gross, Co-director, UK Energy Research Centre, said: “This report provides a proper explanation of why UK power prices differ from those in near neighbours. Industrial power prices are not high because Britain is overambitious on green energy but because the way the costs and benefits of clean energy are shared have tended to disadvantage heavy industry.

The report rightly recommends that the UK should push ahead with subsidy-free long term contracts for low cost renewables and encourage large customers to contract directly with generators. The report also shows that prices here are higher because we are less interconnected than our continental neighbours. Interconnection is threatened by Brexit and it is a policy priority to keep the UK in the European energy market.”

Mary Thorogood, Stakeholder Relations Adviser, Vattenfall UK, said: “The UK has a great opportunity to take advantage of its investment in home grown, clean power to deliver competitive prices for consumers and businesses. Vattenfall agrees that, as the cheapest form of generation, UK Government should look at providing a viable path to investment in onshore wind. This will enable decarbonisation at least cost whilst improving the global competitiveness of British businesses of all sizes.” 

Angus MacRae, Head of Electricity Economics, SSE, said: “SSE welcomes this new analysis of how to achieve competitive GB electricity prices whilst delivering the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy at lowest cost. Many of the report’s recommendations will benefit customers by minimising overall costs, in particular, restoring access to the CfD mechanism for the cheapest renewable technologies, ensuring that carbon is properly accounted for in electricity imports, and providing a long-term investable carbon price signal.”

Dr Richard Leese, Director - MPA Cement and Director - Industrial Policy, Energy and Climate Change, Mineral Products Association said: “This report draws attention to an important issue for mineral products producers. Energy costs remain a significant issue for small, medium and large companies alike. Some cost compensations and exemptions exist for the few and are only partial where they apply. The Government’s clear support for renewable subsidies has brought down the cost of their installation and operation, but paradoxically, delivered electricity costs continue to rise. The Government needs to delve deeper into the energy system to understand the impacts and costs of low carbon electricity delivery on the system as a whole. In doing so it needs to take action on the rising costs associated with the network and its capacity constraints.”


[1] The Aldersgate Group published today a new report from Professor Michael Grubb and Paul Drummond at University College London, UK industrial electricity prices: competitiveness in a low carbon world.

[2] Delivering competitive industrial electricity prices in a low carbon world. This event will be held from 10.00am-11.30am on Monday 5th February at RELX Group, 1-3 Strand, London, WC2N 1JR. Chaired by Aldersgate Group Executive Director Nick Molho, the event will feature keynote speaker Michael Grubb, Professor of Energy and Climate Change, at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. Panellists include Roz Bulleid, Head of Climate, Energy and Environment Policy, EEF - the manufacturers’ organisation, Dr Richard Leese, Director - MPA Cement and Director - Industrial Policy, Energy and Climate Change, Mineral Products Association, Matthew Knight, Director of Energy Strategy and Government Affairs, Siemens Plc, and Mary Thorogood, Stakeholder Relations Adviser, Vattenfall UK. 

[3] National Grid (March 2014) Getting more connected: the opportunity from greater electricity interconnection


Clean Growth now part of UK’s mainstream economic strategy

27th November 2017

Reacting to the publication of Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the future today, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: “The Industrial Strategy can have a transformative impact on the UK’s economy, driving low carbon innovation and the continued growth of jobs, skills and supply chains. It is positive to see that clean growth is now a core objective for the strategy and there is increased focus on energy and resource productivity, and strengthening the synergies between power, heat and transport systems.

Annual global investment into climate-related projects is already more than $1 trillion and accelerating. Given UK strengths in industries such as offshore wind, ultra low emission vehicles and low carbon services, UK businesses are among the best placed to capitalise on the growth of low carbon opportunities and export markets.”

Nick Molho added: “Government can grow market demand for low carbon goods and services and help maximise the benefits of clean growth for UK plc through clear incentive policies, environmental standards, supportive policies on skills and a public procurement policy that rewards resource and energy efficient business. Going forward, the Industrial Strategy must also ensure that energy intensive industries are supported in a way that is consistent with the UK’s emissions targets and helps grow the role of these high value businesses in the UK’s low carbon supply chains.”

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Budget 2017: A bright future for Britain needs more focus on the low carbon economy

22nd November 2017

Reacting to today’s Autumn Budget, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The Chancellor is right that we cannot build an economy fit for the future unless we ensure our planet has a future. As well as aiming to be a world leader in tackling plastic pollution, it was good to hear further support for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, and in ensuring the UK has the skills required to benefit from the job opportunities of the future.
 
However, the lack of clarity and progress on the future of low carbon power investments and energy efficiency standards in new buildings is disappointing. To reduce power sector emissions cost-effectively and continue to grow renewable energy supply chains, the UK needs a policy environment that allows it to deploy mature low carbon technologies such as onshore wind without subsidy, increase its ambition on offshore wind in the 2020s and keep the door open to improvements in new technologies. The announcement that there will be no new low carbon electricity levies until 2025 mustn’t get in the way of that.”

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Aldersgate Group reactive to Professor Helm's Cost of Energy Review

25th October 2017

Reacting to the publication of Professor Dieter Helm’s Cost of Energy Review today, Sarah Williams, Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group said: “We welcome the publication of Professor Helm’s review. The UK needs a framework that supports the cost-effective growth of a secure low carbon power system. However, it is important to recognise that policies that have supported the deployment and economies of scale achieved in areas such as offshore wind have played a key role in driving clean energy innovation and cost reductions.

We note the suggestion of an equivalent firm power auction with interest, but would suggest that managing a low carbon power grid at the system level is likely to be far more efficient and cost-effective than asking individual renewable generators to arrange for their own balancing services.”[1]

Upcoming UCL analysis commissioned by the Aldersgate Group will explore in detail why UK industry faces higher electricity prices compared to EU counterparts and actions that can be taken to address this. Sarah Williams added: “Our upcoming study will be a useful complement to the findings of the Helm Review."

[1] Professor Jim Watson & Dr. Robert Gross (9 October 2017) Cost of Energy Review: Insights from UKERC Research

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Clean Growth Strategy sets UK economy on competitive path

12th October 2017

Reacting to the publication of the Clean Growth Strategy today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “The importance of positive government messaging on the low carbon agenda for investment confidence is often overlooked and today’s clear cross-government commitment to deliver on the UK’s climate targets will be welcomed by businesses. Recent announcements in the offshore wind and car manufacturing industries have highlighted how a clear vision, supported by detailed policies, enable the private sector to drive innovation, cut the costs of clean technologies and invest in UK jobs and supply chains.
 
By restating key commitments such as the £557 million for new offshore wind projects, providing new funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and innovative low carbon heat projects, and setting out important consultations on energy efficiency, the Clean Growth Strategy is an important milestone that will improve business confidence and the credibility of the UK’s climate targets.”
 
Nick Molho added: “To deliver the required increase in affordable private sector investment, the Clean Growth Strategy will have to increase in detail in the near future. This will be particularly important for the UK’s buildings, where mandatory standards and well-timed fiscal incentives such as stamp duty rebates are essential to delivering a step change in energy efficiency investment.”     

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Offshore wind is UK industrial success story

11th September 2017

Reacting to the results of the Second Contracts for Difference Allocation Round, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

“The announcement today that the next round of offshore wind projects will receive a strike price of £57.50-74.75/MWh highlights the considerable cost reductions achieved by the offshore wind industry, at the same time as delivering increased UK content.[1][2]

Larger and more efficient turbines now mean offshore wind is a mainstream component of the UK’s energy mix and turbine blade manufacturing facilities in Hull and the Isle of Wight and servicing companies around the coast are important examples of how the industry has driven jobs and supply chain growth across the UK.

The UK is reaping the benefits of competitive auctions and stable government policy in this area. To continue to see costs reduce, a clear pipeline of projects well into the 2020s will be required and the government’s forthcoming Clean Growth Strategy must ensure that the £730m earmarked for auctions of less established technologies during the last parliament will be committed by 2020 as originally planned.” 

[1] The cost of offshore wind projects are now 50% lower than the first auction held in 2015.

[2] Renewable UK (September 2017) Offshore Wind Industry Investment in the UK: 2017 Report on Offshore Wind UK Content

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Scottish Programme for Government sends positive signal for low carbon investors

5th September 2017

Responding to the First Minister’s announcement today of her Programme for Government 2017-18, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said:

“The First Minister’s proposal to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032 and the ambitious new targets included in the upcoming Climate Change Bill provide a clear sense of direction to business that investment in all forms of resource efficient infrastructure, renewable energy generation and clean transport will need to increase.
 
Scotland has a real opportunity to capitalise on its successes of recent years. The Scottish Government’s commitment to renewables has helped create a thriving sector that accounted for a total turnover of £2.7bn in 2015 and energy efficiency in Scotland’s buildings has been improving with a 74% increase in homes being rated EPC Band C between 2010 and 2015.
 
However, detailed policies are urgently needed if Scotland is to meet its climate targets on time and on budget and continue to grow its low carbon economy. This is especially the case for Scotland’s buildings where clear regulatory standards and well-timed incentives in the Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme and Warm Homes Bill will be essential to ramp up action on energy efficiency.”

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Briefing: Energy efficiency in the UK’s buildings: key priorities for the new government

24th July 2017

Today, the UK’s building stock is responsible for 19% of annual emissions. Promoting energy efficiency in the UK's domestic and commercial sector is crucial to further decarbonisation in the UK.  Energy efficiency mechanisms could generate potential savings of 23.6MtCO2 per year by 2030, which is roughly equivalent to cutting the CO2 emissions of the UK transport fleet by one third. [1] However, there is a general lack of progress in reducing emissions across the UK’s building stock, insufficient uptake of low carbon heat and insulation and a failure to make any meaningful reduction in non-residential building emissions. [2] The Aldersgate Group and the UK Green Building Council have produced this briefing to highlight priorities for the government in addressing this issue.
 
Our briefing argues that reducing energy demand through greater efficiency can help the UK meet its legally binding climate targets, limit increases in energy bills, tackle fuel poverty, and drive economic growth and long-term job creation.

[1] Cambridge Econometrics and Verco (2015) Building the Future

[2] Committee on Climate Change (June 2016) Meeting Carbon Budgets: Progress Report to Parliament


Ambitious low carbon agenda essential to make the UK a leader in new industries

21st June 2017

Reacting to the Queen’s Speech today, Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group, said:

“It is encouraging to see the government’s desire to make the UK a leader in new industries and enhance its role on the world stage. If the government is to do this successfully, it will need to commit to an ambitious environmental and low carbon agenda. With the global low carbon economy growing fast and international action on climate change gathering pace despite the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, this will require the publication this year of a detailed clean growth plan to deliver the UK’s climate targets under the fifth carbon budget and a framework for a 25 year plan to enhance the state of the UK’s environment. In incorporating EU environmental legislation in UK law and determining its future, the government should focus on delivering environmental improvements on the ground that are as good as or better than what is currently legislated for.”

Nick Molho added: “The government is right to seek the “broadest consensus possible” in determining the UK’s negotiating terms on Brexit. In order to deliver the UK’s climate and energy policy ambitions in the most efficient and cost-effective way, the UK must maintain close collaboration with the EU after Brexit in key areas of mutual benefit, such as through continued participation in the internal energy market.” 

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Cross-party support for climate policy must strengthen low carbon economy

9th June 2017

Following the results of the General Election, the Aldersgate Group urges the new government when it is formed and MPs from all political parties to build on their support for the UK’s Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement by backing the growth of the UK’s low carbon economy.
 

The Aldersgate Group, whose business members represent a wide range of economic sectors and a collective turnover in excess of £400bn, calls on the new government when it is formed and MPs from across the political spectrum to recognise the important role played by the low carbon economy in delivering widespread environmental, economic and social benefits, and in strengthening the UK’s international competitiveness.
 
The UK’s low carbon economy was already worth £77bn in 2015 and employed 432,000 people. With UK strengths in the offshore wind, ultra-emission vehicle, construction, ICT and legal and financial services sector, stable and long-term policies could help increase the size of the UK’s low carbon economy from 2% of GDP today to 8% by 2030. Despite President Trump’s recent decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, the global low carbon economy is rapidly growing, as shown by the $240bn invested in a record amount of renewable electricity capacity in 2016, the slowdown in coal consumption in India and China and increased collaboration between the European Union and China on tackling climate change.
 
Nick Molho, Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group said: “All the main parties have shown support during the General Election campaign for the UK to put in place an ambitious climate and environmental policy agenda and seize the industrial opportunities that this represents. We therefore look forward to working with the new government and MPs from all parties to put in place ambitious policies that will help grow the UK’s low carbon sector, improve resource efficiency, enhance the natural environment and strengthen the competitiveness of the economy.”
 
Nick Molho added: “As made clear in the Aldersgate Group Manifesto, this is a crucial time to establish policies that will improve the health of the UK’s environment and the future prospects of its economy. An important first step should be the publication in 2017 of a detailed Clean Growth Plan to attract low carbon investment and meet climate targets and a framework for a 25 Year Environment Plan to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment."

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Supporting renewables is in Republicans’ interest

7th June 2017

Today the Financial Times published a letter by Aldersgate Group Executive Director, Nick Molho, commenting on Republican US states' growing economic activity around renewable energy. See full text below:

Sir, Many of the US states that are joining the coalition to press ahead with their commitments to cut carbon emissions under the Paris agreement are indeed under Democratic leadership (“Trump Paris deal pullout faces US states’ backlash”, June 5). However, some key Republican states that haven’t yet joined this alliance are witnessing growing economic activity around renewable energy and it is in their interest to continue supporting the growth of the sector.

For example, just under $7bn was invested in renewable energy projects in North Carolina in 2015, while Texas has more than 100,000 people working in the sector. This is one of the reasons some of the federal incentives that facilitate the deployment of renewable energy, such as the wind and solar tax credits, have bipartisan support and were recently renewed for another five years.

When one adds to this the ambitious emissions reduction commitments of a major state like California, the world’s sixth-largest economy before France, it becomes clear that US states and cities could deliver significant emission cuts in the years to come despite an unsupportive federal government.

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Green business needs strong, stable support

5th June 2017

Today the Guardian has published our letter, signed by 11 businesses, highlighting the importance of the UK's low carbon economy and calling on the next government to put in place ambitious and stable environmental policies. See full text below:

Despite the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change (Anger at US as Trump rejects climate accord, 2 June), the global market for low carbon goods and services is rapidly growing and the UK must make the most of this opportunity. Spurred in particular by major investments in low carbon technologies by countries such as China, India, Mexico and South Africa, the Paris agreement could open up $23tn (£18tn) worth of opportunities for low carbon investments in emerging markets between 2016 and 2030. The commitments made by six world leaders at the recent G7 summit and the decision by China and the EU to collaborate more closely on climate change support this trend.

The UK is well placed to benefit. Its low carbon sector employed 432,000 people and produced a turnover in excess of £77bn in 2015. The UK’s strengths include manufacturing ultra-low emission vehicles and offshore wind turbines, piloting innovative ideas in energy, water and resource efficiency and providing financial and legal services for clean energy projects worldwide. The focus on developing low-cost, low carbon infrastructure is gaining momentum across all key economic sectors.

The low carbon economy could grow from 2% of UK GDP today to 13% by 2050. However, stable policies to grow the UK’s low carbon market will be essential to turn this potential into reality and ensure our economy remains competitive on the global stage. We therefore call on the new government to put in place ambitious and long-term policies to tackle climate change and improve the state of the environment at the heart of its industrial strategy and vision for the UK.

Nick Molho Executive director, Aldersgate Group, Chris Newsome Director of asset management, Anglian Water, Steve Waygood Chief responsible investment officer, Aviva Investors, Nigel Stansfield President, Interface Europe, Middle East and Africa, Pierre Woreczek Chief customer officer, Kingfisher, Jens Tommerup CEO, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, Matthew Knight Director of energy strategy and government affairs, Siemens UK, Alistair Phillips-Davies Chief executive, SSE, Julia Barrett Director, Willmott Dixon Re-Thinking, David Symons UK Director of Sustainability, WSP, Piers Guy UK country manager, Vattenfall, Paul Greensmith UK country leader, XL Catlin

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