WWF Sees Decarbonized UK Electricity

Earlier this year, WWF made a splash when it outlined how the world could get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Now the conservation organization is narrowing its focus and time horizon, describing how the U.K. could “decarbonize the power sector without resorting to new nuclear power” by 2030.

The organization had the renewable energy consultancy GL Garrad Hassan crunch six distinct scenarios under which a low-carb, no-nukes 2030 might unfold, three assuming a “central” or moderate demand for electricity and three under an “ambitious” assumption that would require around a third less power. Within each assumption, three further scenarios were drawn, one with a high reliance on gas and a good deal of carbon capture; a second with greater grid interconnection with Europe, allowing the U.K. to sell green power to reduce its carbon footprint; and a third, “stretch” scenario in which renewables would meet nearly 90 percent of electricity demand.

UK renewables, Positive Energy report, WWF

image via WWF

Even the least ambitious of these scenarios has success arriving with barely 60 percent of electricity produced coming from renewables – a very reasonable goal, the WWF asserts, given that Scotland, for one, is aiming to have all its electricity produced from renewables by 2020.

UK renewables, Positive Energy report, WWF

image via WWF

The WWF makes the point that reaching the decarbonize goal will be a whole lot easier and less expensive if demand is reduced; that increased interconnection with Europe will yield big benefits; that building a lot of new gas infrastructure risks locking into reliance on the fuel (and makes less-than-certain carbon-capture technologies a necessity); and, finally, that the renewables industry needs a greater long-term commitment from the government in order to have the confidence to invest adequately.

The WWF report is available for download for free as a PDF.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.