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Studies show financial benefits of renewables and 'smart power'

Studies show financial benefits of renewables and 'smart power'

Studies show financial benefits of renewables and 'smart power'

Studies published this month have highlighted some of the economic and financial benefits that could be delivered to Britain's businesses and consumers if the country took a smarter approach to energy.

Some of the most significant findings came from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), which was tasked with exploring how the UK can achieve a better balance between supply and demand in the electricity market.

A smart power revolution

Publishing its report, the commission said the deployment of 'smart power' could save energy consumers up to £8 billion a year by 2030.

It would also help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets and secure the energy supply for the future, according to the NIC.

The so-called 'smart power revolution' would be based on innovations such as interconnection, whereby the UK would reduce bills and achieve a better balance in its electricity network by connecting to its European neighbours.

Another area with scope for improvement is energy storage, which could prove particularly important for intermittent renewables like wind and solar power.

The NIC also called for greater demand flexibility, which would be based on the latest hi-tech systems allowing consumers to save money and cut emissions without inconvenience.

Publishing its findings, the commission noted that the UK energy sector is going through some fundamental changes, with two-thirds of our existing power stations expected to close by 2030.

Furthermore, the existing energy infrastructure was designed for the post-war era, when homes and businesses depended on large fossil fuel generators.

The NIC stressed that modernising and decarbonising the UK's energy system is a "serious challenge", but also represents an "enormous opportunity".

Lord Adonis, chairman of the body, said: "Our existing power stations are closing down and their replacements will be radically different as we decarbonise supply to reduce emissions.

"This represents an enormous challenge, but it also leaves the UK uniquely placed to benefit from three exciting innovations set to transform the global electricity market - interconnection, storage and demand flexibility.

"The UK can lead the world in harnessing these innovations, bringing jobs and investment into the country and cutting bills for consumers."

The economic benefits of renewables

The degree to which British businesses and the economy can benefit from more widespread adoption of renewable energy was highlighted in a recent report commissioned by the Scottish government.

Published by management consultancy Baringa, the research focused on Scotland's island economies, which could reportedly see an economic boost of £725 million over the next 25 years from renewables projects.

Locations like the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland are so well-placed to access wind, wave and tidal power that they could meet up to five per cent of Britain's total electricity demand by 2030.

As well as delivering a big financial boost for the economy, increased deployment of renewables would create up to 2,000 jobs during the peak development phase, the study revealed.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: "This report confirms the potential of the vast renewable resources of our islands. They are arguably the best places in Europe to deliver renewable energy."

In the south of the UK, there have recently been calls for London's mayoral candidates to commit to plans to increase the city's sustainable energy supply through measures such as increased deployment of solar power.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of Liquid Library