The energy sector can often be a target of criticism when it comes to meeting the challenge of climate change, yet the sector is making great strides in reducing green-house gas emissions. We’ve seen a 72% emissions reduction in the power sector since 1990. Overall UK emissions (2019 figures) have fallen by 40% since 1990 and almost all of the 18% reduction seen in the five-year period from 2014 is down to progress made in the electricity generating sector.
With the power sector underpinning the economy and playing its role in helping decarbonise other industries such as transport, the sector is very much part of the solution. The huge transformation needed will come from more than doubling output by 2050, whilst decarbonising and continuing to provide a stable secure supply.
For the UK to achieve net-zero, other sectors must also decarbonise at pace. Decarbonising heat, transport, heavy industry, and power generation are linked in more ways than simply the electrification of sectors typically fuelled by fossil heavy fuels. The size of the challenge will need industry partners, governments, society and investors to all play their part.
Working together to decarbonise
The challenge is still huge and will require hundreds of billions of pounds in investments. The energy sector is well-placed to use its expertise and work together with high energy consuming sectors to decarbonise. Businesses can team up under a cluster model to secure investment opportunities and overcome technology challenges, where there is shared value. For example, carbon transport and storage infrastructure will be used by electricity generators, industry and hydrogen producers.
A good example of this are the partnerships, including the multi-party hydrogen projects springing up in industrial areas of the UK, such as the Humber and the north-west, bringing new technologies, alternative fuels, and innovation together to decarbonise high carbon emitting industrial clusters.
In addition, renewables generation is not all about supplying the grid - energy from wind generation can be stored by making use of power to gas technology – producing hydrogen using electrolysis. Just as wind and solar technologies have evolved and costs have come down, it is possible to imagine a future where hydrogen produced by electrolysis is prefe