Renewable Energy: A 10-Year Review

The UK has already made huge strides in the field of renewable energy and is a global leader in wind power, but there is still plenty more progress to make. As the government continues to waver over its support for green energy in terms of subsidy commitments, the call for cutting carbon emissions on a worldwide scale has never been louder.

Renewable Energy

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Certainly, the potential gains to be achieved far outweigh the costs. The UK could look forward to low carbon emissions and minimised greenhouse gases translating into less pollution as well as better energy security of supply, a thriving green energy sector with all of its economic benefits and the chance to create an excellent quality of life for its population.

The Scale of the Opportunity

However, experts believe that the move to this energy utopia could take at least four decades and involve substantial initial investment along the way. The transition plan is also unclear, as the drive is new and unprecedented. Previous energy transitions have been driven by market opportunity and reflected additional possibilities rather than alternative energies, which are policy-driven.

In the meantime, however, businesses and individuals alike are investing in renewable power on a small scale and at a commercial scale. For example, the use of solar panels in Northern Ireland is growing, with reporting consistently high demand from building owners keen to enjoy a subsidy income whilst slashing their fossil fuel costs.

The Decade-Long Opportunity

So what can we do in just ten years? The government can continue to ensure private sector investment by matching funding and ensuring a stable policy and subsidy framework that rewards investment in green energy and penalises fossil fuel developments. Funding may be required to retrofit new technologies on to existing power plants – such as with combined heat and power – or on to older buildings, but the price may be reduced by falling commercial costs.

At the same time, building regulations could be further strengthened to ensure zero net energy performance for new-builds. Further rollout of energy-efficient domestic appliances will also help, along with increasing consumer awareness. A move to more local and environmentally friendly farming production methods will cut net transport energy costs, as will an increasing move towards low-carbon fuels and biofuels and alternative public transport options.

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