The Royal Academy of Engineering has warned that the UK must make more progress towards restructuring its energy system, and said further benefits will “only be harder” to come across.
In a report issued for the Council of Science and Technology, the RAE has called upon the UK government to undertake whole-system, large-scale pilot projects of emerging technologies to better understand them, develop new policies to accelerate demand reduction particularly in domestic heat and stabilise market mechanisms and incentives to provide additional investor confidence.
The report also calls on the government to consider the entire energy system and not just electricity in order to achieve its climate change targets in both 2020 and 2030.
“Electricity, heat and transport, although quite different in their characteristics, are all part of the UK’s energy system and are equally important, with complex interactions between them: targets will only be met by addressing all aspects of the system,” the report states.
The RAE goes on to stress the importance of acting quickly, adding that a failure to carefully plan for the energy system’s development could result in significant increases in the cost of delivery, and even a failure to deliver.
Demand reduction is a central theme to the report and the RAE reiterates a common opinion within the sector that far more work needs to be done on the domestic heat front, success which the report claims has been “elusive” despite the government’s moves to incentivise it.
Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change revealed stagnating uptake of renewable heat technologies under the RHI, which it said was likely to be the result of continued degressions and their impact on demand.
The RAE adds that if the UK is to meets its climate change targets, the design of low carbon heating and transport solutions must be started immediately given the comparatively long lead-time required.