Atkins report calls for energy ‘sea change’ to achieve UK Net Zero

Jan 19 2020

The government’s Net Zero 2050 target won’t be achieved without substantial changes to the UK’s energy mix including an urgent boost to CCS.

Engineering Net Zero highlights the major challenges of creating significant capacity in carbon capture and storage, nuclear, wind and hydrogen energy generation. It examines how policy makers and industry need to urgently resolve a number of technical and commercial challenges associated with decarbonising the economy. To achieve Net Zero the UK needs a four-fold increase in low carbon energy - from 155TWh in 2017 to 645TWh in 2050.

The report brings Atkins’ experience of delivering the world’s largest, most complex infrastructure programmes to bear on this most critical of technical challenges – how to avert the most devastating implications of climate change. It analyses how current capacity and UK policy points away from a reliance on nuclear energy, despite its proven ability to produce low carbon solutions.

Current government policy curtails nuclear in the mid-2030s after completion of the three plants currently in active development. Alongside this commitment, carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity is needed to capture, transport and store up to 176 Metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050 to deliver the Net Zero target. The UK’s current capacity for CCS is negligible and needs urgent attention.

Speaking about the new report, Chris Ball, Managing Director for Nuclear and Power at Atkins, said: “The green future we aspire to is possible. However, it requires a sea change in how we approach our energy system and the scale of investment required. Government has set the target and working in collaboration with industry and academia we can meet the ambition. But it requires an unprecedented level of commitment, investment and co-ordination to drive forward a programme of works.

“The concern for the UK is that years of only short-term political ambitions have blocked some urgent investments and actions needed to drive forward Net Zero solutions. As we look to 2020, and the UK’s new government takes shape, we need tangible investment in testing engineering solutions to our most pressing challenges.

“We welcome today’s Queen’s Speech with the Government’s commitments to increase offshore wind capacity and invest in building a Carbon Capture Storage cluster.”

“However, to really prioritise the Net Zero target, we would like to see the Government introduce ‘Net Zero Champion’ or even a dedicated department with the powers to make the large-scale energy and infrastructure decisions the UK urgently needs.”

Atkins views COP26 in Glasgow as an important moment in the Government’s path to laying realistic foundations to achieve the critical Net Zero legal requirement.

Over the coming months, the company will be adding to its Engineering Net Zero report to include analysis on the infrastructure and transportation sectors to give policy makers a holistic view of the challenges facing the UK.

Read the report

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