It’s been a good news week!
Almost 1 in 3 of the UK’s largest businesses are leading the way in the world’s transition to a low carbon economy, committing to align with UK government ambitions and eliminate their contribution to climate change by 2050.
As of 31 March, 30 of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies had signed up to the United Nation’s Race to Zero campaign – the largest ever global alliance committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the latest, backed with science-based targets, with many opting to go even faster. Last week’s milestone announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) means pledges have doubled in the past 5 months, with companies including AstraZeneca, BT Group, Sainsbury’s, and Unilever and in total representing a total market capital of £650 billion.
Good news for scientists and researchers too
As the UK slowed down on Thursday for the long Easter weekend, there was good news for scientists and researchers who will get an extra £250 million funding this year to help pay for the UK’s association with Horizon Europe. This EU funding programme will be at least 20% larger than the previous framework programme, giving UK scientists and innovators access to the largest collaborative funding scheme in the world.
The BEIS announcement explained: “This investment reinforces the Government’s commitment to putting research and development at the heart of plans to build back better from the pandemic. It will support vital and pioneering research while enabling the UK’s brilliant scientists, researchers and businesses to access and benefit from the world’s largest collaborative research programme, Horizon Europe – worth around €95 billion over the next decade.
“The UK will associate to Horizon Europe as part of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the EU. We will pay a fair and appropriate share into the budget of this programme to enable the UK science and research sector to further their collaborations with our European partners.”
University leaders had feared the government would not contribute the cost of taking part and would instead seek to fund it from existing research budgets. The Guardian quoted both Prof Julia Buckingham, President of Universities UK and Dr Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russel Group of universities as the news broke.
BEIS will now be confirming science budgets for its partner organisations in 2021/22 as quickly as possible.
Tidal power back in the news
Hardly a day went past last week without news about the wave and tidal energy sectors. Rt Hon Sir Philip Dunne MP, Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) turned the spotlight on tidal: “Tidal power can offer numerous benefits and potential for the UK, which boasts over 7,500 miles of coastline and unrivalled resources to generate reliable power supplies without the vagaries of sunlight or wind.
“While we appreciate the Government’s concern about the potential initial cost to the taxpayer to support early-stage tidal stream and tidal range structures, the benefits outweigh the costs. Support for tidal stream is likely to lead to a rapid fall in generating costs similar to, if not steeper than, the fall experienced in offshore wind.”
In a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, the EAC has reflected on evidence it received in the latest stage of its Technological innovations and climate change inquiry. Members heard that current tidal stream projects in development already have the capacity to deliver 1GW of electricity to the grid.
The EAC urges the Government to consider the important benefits of tidal stream and tidal range, and to offer support across the sector. In particular, the Government should discuss an administrative strike price for Contracts for Difference round 4 which will allow tidal stream projects in development to proceed to the grid offer.
“It is imperative that the Government fully considers the benefits of this reliable renewable energy and have constructive discussions with the sector,” said Sir Philip.
More on tidal energy: Wales
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government has issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) to determine the best approach to formulating a potential competition that would support the delivery of a tidal range energy project on the Welsh coastline
“The purpose of this PIN is to conduct a soft market testing exercise to inform the nature and quantum of any support the Welsh Government could provide for the construction of a tidal range electricity generation project on the Welsh coastline,” said the official announcement.
… And in Scotland a video to thrill tidal stream afficionados
Orbital Marine Power has released a video update showing its 2MW O2 tidal turbine moving to the quayside in Dundee ahead of it launch that will take place “in a few weeks.”
Wave in focus too
Wave energy has the potential to provide at least 15% of the UK’s annual electricity and help the country meet its Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.
But for that potential to become a reality, it will require an extensive programme of collaboration, investment and innovation involving governments, science, industry, and landowners.
Those are the key findings of a new study examining the current state of the UK’s wave energy sector and how its fortunes have fluctuated over the past five decades.
Published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, and led by academics from the University of Plymouth, it positions the UK at the forefront of offshore renewable energy innovation and development worldwide.