The news arrived this week that the UK government is set to miss an EU-mandated target to generate 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
And although Britain is no longer a part of the EU, the target is legally-binding according to the Climate Change Act.
The evidence was put forward this week in a report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) of MPs, following on from a similar statement from the National Grid during the summer.
National Grid predicted a best-case scenario of 2022 being the earliest date of achieving the EU target, and a worse-case scenario of 2029. Ominous news when you consider that the 2020 target is all part of a bigger picture aiming at emission cuts of 80 per cent by 2050.
This leaves the question of how the government will develop its energy policy in order to meet the incremental targets along the way. Will there be a greater push on electric and hydrogen cars? Is biomass a viable option for large-scale energy? Should there be a greater focus on electric heat pumps?
While technology has been developing rapidly on a consumer level over the past ten or fifteen years – think the difference between the Nokia 3210 when compared with the HD camera, heartrate monitoring smart phones of today – these innovations are also vital on a macro, governmental level.
Listed below are a number of energy changes that could affect you and your business as policy develops to meet the target of generating 15 per cent of its energy from renewables.
The year in which the UK reaches its energy target remains unclear, however, here is what your energy usage could look like in ten years’ time as the clock ticks on its EU targe
Transport: Petrol, diesel or electric?
In 2026 you could well find yourself driving in to work using an electric car. In fact, according to experts, it is more likely than not that you will be doing just that, with electric car sales set to surpass gas-powered car sales.
In order to meet the Climate Change Act targets, it in the government’s interest to provide tax breaks and incentives to businesses that use electric vehicles. Something to pay attention to in the coming years if your business involves transportation.
Does your company have solar panels? In ten years’ time there is every chance that it will.
According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) solar energy will be more economical than fossil fuels as we enter the 2020s. Furthermore, the pricing of solar is becoming more affordable with opportunities to earn money back by pumping excess electricity into the grid.
The caveat should be added that this also requires the solar industry to continue its rapid improvement of cell efficiency and the implementation of economies of scale
Biomass and food waste energy
Businesses are already using food and biological waste as a form of energy. Earlier in the year Sainsbury’s announced that ten per cent of its annual consumption comes from its own food waste as they partnered up with food waste recycler ReFood.
This partnership has produced nearly 50 million kWk of biomethane gas – enough to continuously power 5,000 homes for a year.
ReFood’s other clients include Doncaster Racecourse, Q Hotels and Lidl. If your company is involved in the food industry, partnering up with a food waste company could be viable option.
These are just three ways the energy sources you use in 2026 could look drastically different.