Libdems plan zero-carbon Britain

Yes, thats right, all the power plants will be in Northern Ireland, ha ha. Anyway Huhne plans zero-carbon Britain sez the grauniad. Interesting. The policy paper is here, reassuringly titled “final”. Nice to see a major party advocating this stuff.

There are lots of bits in there, but the bit I was trying to source was “Setting a target for 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity to come from clean, noncarbon emitting sources by 2020, rising to 100 per cent by 2050” (“clean” in this context means not-nuclear). Thats just ‘lectric, but they also say they “would also set targets for increasing the amount of heat produced from renewable sources, including gas (i.e. biogas from animal byproducts and organic waste). By 2050, all gas used in heating should be from such sources and therefore zero carbon.” I rather wonder if there is enough cowpoo around to produce that much methane, but since they produce no numbers its hard to be sure exactly what they have in mind.

Back to the ‘lectric. Not long ago I decided that zerocarbonbritains figures for 2030 didn’t add up: even having cut our energy use by half, they were still missing about 1/2 what they needed. There is no clear indication that the Libdems are going to cut energy use, so if the LDs are using ZCBs numbers they are missing about 3/4 of what they need. But frustratingly, the LDs don’t actually say how much will come from what. Its all incintives and aspirations. There is no scenario from where the power might come from, just hopes. So good marks for the idea chaps, but please work out the details a bit more.

There was a promisingly titled section on “Promoting Changes In Behaviour” but its contents are rather namby-pamby. We need stuff of the order of clearing out all the inefficient pointless villages and putting people into nice cities well served by public transport and walk/cycle-able. But that won’t happen.

[Oh – and although they don’t assume it (I think) its worth noting that CCS appears to be in trouble “no commercial-scale power plant uses the technology yet, and a lack of public funding plus legal doubts and safety worries are casting a shadow over mooted projects”.

4 thoughts on “Libdems plan zero-carbon Britain”

  1. Well, if the experience of the Scottish Parliament is anything to go by, the LibDems actions rarely match their words. They’re all talk and no action.

    But hey, you can say anything you like if you’re not going to get elected anyway.


  2. I did some very rough calcs on what sort of generating capacity we’d need to be building in order to hit the LD’s target and came to a build rate of about 2-3GW/year between now and 2050 (there’s lots of uncertainty in that number of course but I tried to capture the main elements).

    The French have demonstrated that this is certainly feasible for a UK-sized economy. Of course they were doing it with nukes, which are verboten in LibDemWorld – but offshore wind has the potential scale for the target and the UK has certainly got a skillbase in off-shore engineering that could be deployed to the task.

    I’m not sure that the general public are fully on-board with covering pretty much our entire territorial waters with turbines yet mind…



  3. LibDems are all talk; they only ever need talk. I’m hopeful that one day, maybe this year, we’ll get a hung parliament, PR will follow, and then LibDems will have enough power that they have to match their fine words with action. Experience in local politics suggest that the words will change.

    [I’m obviously not blogging enough: people are rooting around in my archives :-). But Happy New Year -W]


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