London – The International Energy Agency (IEA) has applauded the UK’s long-term vision for a low-carbon future – greenhouse gas emissions are to be cut by 80% from 1990 to 2050 – but also sounds some notes of caution regarding the costs of implementing its ambitious energy policies.
“The UK consistently plays a constructive role in international climate policy, and its domestic policies enhance its credibility on the world stage,” said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven at the IEA’s 2012 review launch.
The report, however, includes a number of recommendations for UK policymakers, noting the huge private-sector investments in energy infrastructure needed to decarbonise the economy and energy system
“Consumers must be certain that they are paying for the most cost-effective solutions. Enhanced co-operation with neighbouring countries will increase electricity security,” said van der Hoeven.
She went on to say that the UK government’s “pioneering Electricity Market Reform (EMR) plans would be closely observed by other countries seeking to maintain reliability electricity supply while significantly reducing emissions.
With around 20% of the UK’s ageing power-generating capacity closing this decade, the report said the “complex and ambitious” EMR should lead to a more liberalised marketplace. This, it said, would foster competition between ‘low-carbon’ technologies, such as renewables, nuclear energy and carbon capture.
“More efficient energy use is essential to both decarbonisation and energy security,” van der Hoeven noted. “A transition to a low-carbon economy will take time, and fossil fuels, in particular oil and natural gas, will remain important.”
“Oil imports are well-diversified and oil stocks are very robust, while natural gas import capacity exceeds annual demand by a wide margin, she concluded. “Large investments in LNG capacity have increased the flexibility of gas supply. Another asset is the liquid, well-functioning wholesale natural gas market.”