The UK is set to miss out on an opportunity to create green jobs and transition towards a flexible, renewable-powered economy as it builds back from COVID-19.
This is one of the conclusions from a new report from Wartsilla which found stimulus packages for energy weighted to support legacy fossil fuel energy.
Wärtsilä’s report – Aligning Stimulus with Energy Transformation – shows that £3.8bn stimulus commitments have been earmarked to support fossil fuel energy compared to £121m for clean power generation, a finding which has been based on Energy Policy Tracker data.
This, the report says, is not aligned with the UK’s targets to achieve 57 per cent greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 compared with 1990 levels and net-zero by 2050.
The report is said to model what could be achieved if UK energy stimulus was entirely dedicated to measures to cost-optimally increase renewable energy, aligning economic recovery with decarbonisation.
Wärtsilä’s analysis identifies that UK energy stimulus, geared to unlock private sector investment towards the energy transition, could help Britain reach a 60 per cent renewable power system by 2025. This would cut power sector carbon emissions by 58 per cent compared to current levels and steer the UK toward its net-zero emissions target by 2050.
Wärtsilä estimate that a cost-optimal 60 per cent renewable power system would consist of 60GW existing and new renewable energy, supported by investment in energy storage and new flexible gas-based technologies, capable of operating on bio- and renewable synthetic fuels, including 7GW of battery energy storage and 14GW of flexible gas-based generation enabled for future carbon-neutral fuels.
It is claimed that this could result in over 120,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector alone.
In a statement, Ville Rimali, Growth and Development Director at Wärtsilä Energy said: “In the UK and across the G20 as a whole, the stimulus ‘scales’ are too weighted towards support for legacy fossil fuel-powered systems, despite the agenda for rapid decarbonisation that’s underway worldwide. Refocusing stimulus towards renewable and flexible energy would accelerate this shift, create jobs and cut emissions.
“The UK energy system is at a fork in the road. The current road could lock-in unnecessary fossil fuels, create 60 per cent fewer jobs and miss the UK’s net-zero target. The alternative road leverages economic stimulus to unlock massive private sector investment, clearly putting the UK on a net-zero trajectory – potentially achieving a 60 per cent share of renewables by 2025 and cutting emissions intensity by 58 per cent.
“The UK has enormous potential to accelerate to net-zero and present a blueprint for other countries to follow, stimulating investment, jobs, technology intellectual power and economic growth.”