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Clean energy future can happen

25 October 2011

Renewable sources of energy could meet between 60-90% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030. That’s a key finding of our new Positive Energy report, widely welcomed by businesses, individuals and organisations as a valuable contribution to the energy debate.


Siemens welcomes the contribution that the WWF's Positive Energy report makes to the UK energy and climate change policy debate, focusing on energy efficiency, the role of renewables, carbon capture and storage and much stronger interconnection with continental Europe. The report highlights the need for strong stable policies to drive investment, stimulating the green economy and bringing skilled manufacturing, construction and service jobs to the UK.

Michael Rolls, director, Business Development, Sustainability and Government Affairs, Siemens

This report demystifies the concerns some people have about wind power. It shows that electricity prices have largely risen due to increases in gas prices, not increases in wind power and that high levels of wind power will shield consumers from volatile gas prices in future. It shows that the electricity network can cope with very high levels of wind, even in the harshest of winters. And perhaps most importantly it shows that wind can generate economic growth and jobs, much needed by the UK economy.

Anders Søe-Jensen, president of Vestas Offshore

Over the next ten years Unilever plans to double the size of its business but reduce its overall environmental footprint. To achieve this goal will mean that we will have to triple the use of renewable energy in our 250 factories from around 16% today to over 40% in 2020. WWF's Positive Energy report demonstrates that achieving 60% renewable electricity use in the UK by 2030 is perfectly feasible. Reaching such a goal will not just be good for business but it will be absolutely essential if we are to retard the speed of accelerating climate change.

Gavin Neath, senior vice president of sustainability, Unilever

WWF's Positive Energy report, published today, is an interesting and useful addition to the debate on how the UK should transform its electricity sector. SSE supports the report's emphasis on the need to continue to try and reduce the UK's energy demand; as well as its conclusion that the renewables industry requires long-term certainty to continue to invest in the UK. Sufficient certainty that renewables will be a long term part of the energy system, well beyond the current 2020 cliff edge, is needed in order to allow the industry to mature and put renewables on a path of cost reduction that will steadily reduce and eliminate the need for support. Introducing a well designed, long-term financial support mechanism for renewable technologies, as well as a renewables target for 2030 - both of which are recommended in Positive Energy - could help to provide this certainty

Keith MacLean, policy and research director, Southern and Scottish Energy

WWF's Positive Energy report clearly demonstrates how renewable energy sources could meet at least 60% of the UK's energy needs by 2030. We welcome its conclusion - that it will take a long-term commitment by government and industry to achieve such high levels of renewable energy. In particular the report identifies the need for a positive forward thinking commitment and visibility of a market beyond 2020 in order to make investment and to attract green jobs to the UK.

Rob Hastings, director of the marine estate, Crown Estate

P&G fully supports moving towards wider implementation of renewable energy. Powering our plants globally with 100% renewable energy is part of P&G's long term environmental sustainability vision and we have set a goal to be sourcing at least 30% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Len Sauers, vice president, Global Sustainability, Procter & Gamble

Many people like me, on the renewable front-lines, wouldn't find 60% renewables by 2030 at all daunting, given appropriate policy, will, and capital. There is invariably a tendency to underplay the scope for microgeneration and energy efficiency in studies like this. Personally, I believe we can mobilise low carbon infrastructure faster than this.

Jeremy Leggett is founder and executive chairman of Solarcentury

Climate change is accelerating even as the global economy is slowing. This could be a lethal combination here in the UK, where enthusiastic talk of "the green economy" has as yet achieved very little. This report from WWF shows exactly what needs to be done to counter that impasse — by moving forward purposefully, now to ensure that 60% of our electricity is generated from renewables by 2030.

Jonathan Porritt is founder director, Forum for the Future

As shown clearly in WWF's Positive Energy report, providing a long-term, coherent and credible climate and energy policy in tandem with our EU partners could… provide UK investors with the certainty needed to kick-start investment in one of the world's fastest growing markets. A clear non-discriminatory, market-based policy could reduce the long-run cost of renewable technologies, spur energy efficiency and attract low-cost financing to the sector.

Dimitri Zenghelis is associate fellow at Chatham House, adviser to Cisco and senior visiting fellow, Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics

As one of the leading global insurers of renewable energy RSA stands firmly behind what WWF's Positive Energy report sets out to achieve. We agree that significant investment in new electricity generation is required so that the UK becomes a world leader in clean, renewable energy. The UK can then reap the social, environmental and economical benefits that this investment will bring.

Mark Potter, head of renewable energy, Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA)

If a carpet company such as Interface has decreased non-renewable energy by 60% per unit of production and absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 35% despite growth, I don't see why a country such as the UK can't.

Ramon Arratia, InterfaceFLOR

Decarbonising our energy supply rapidly whilst keeping the lights on should by now be a mainstream aim of energy policy: after all the Government has adopted the Climate Change Committee's fourth carbon budget, which sets out clearly the low level of carbon we can tolerate in our energy economy if action on climate change is to be kept on track. The problem is that too many people simply do not believe it is possible to do it, or perhaps think it is only possible at prohibitive cost. That kind of thinking will land us with locked-in high carbon power sources if we are not careful. This report blows those myths away: yes we can, and without breaking the bank or technology constraints. It will be an important technical back up to all those pressing for the political will now to be in place to make our low carbon energy aspirations a reality.

Alan Whitehead is chair of the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group

The planet deserves better from us then a toxic legacy for thousands of years. There are solutions and I fully support this WWF report in looking for a truly renewable way forward.

Tessa Munt MP

This compelling report from WWF is a wake-up call for the Government to stop the anti green forces in the Coalition from scaling back ambition on the UK's climate and renewables targets — and undermining investor confidence in clean industries. It shows that, with proper investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, we can wean the UK off dirty fossil fuels and vastly improve our energy security — as well as create a whole new generation of skilled green jobs. This research is a valuable addition to the growing body of evidence proving that the jobs-rich, low carbon infrastructure of the future can be both good for the planet and for the economy.

Caroline Lucas MP

This report shows that if we seriously expand our clean power generating capacity and build interconnections with our neighbours we can actually create a lucrative export market, as there will be times where the UK will be generating more electricity than it needs.

The UK can no longer remain an energy island. The time for interconnections with the rest of Europe - and interconnections between other European countries, known collectively as a European 'supergrid' - has come. Everyone now agrees that this is the way to secure and green our energy supply. WWF is saying it; the European Commission is saying it; the business community is saying it; governments are beginning to say it. Now is the time to stop talking about it and start building it!

Sir Graham Watson is a Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament and chairman of the Climate Parliament network of MPs and MEPs from across the globe working to promote renewable electricity supergrids.

This report re-affirms the UK's potential to become a low carbon economy based on a growing and diversified renewable energy mix.

It shows we can move away from near-term spikes in our domestic fuel bills caused by over-reliance on fossil fuels and move towards a long-term, stable future built on wind, wave, tidal and other technologies — and benefit from the new jobs these technologies offer.

To realise this vision, the UK Government can lead the way by putting in place an ambitious new target for renewables alongside a stable and long-term market support mechanism which will unlock the significant private investment the sector will bring.

Martin McAdam, CEO, Aquamarine Power (wave energy developer)

NEA supports WWF calls for greater investment in energy efficiency to reduce demand for power and energy in the home. Unless we heed their recommendations energy will be unaffordable for millions of households by 2030 whatever happens on the supply side and renewable energy targets will be much harder to meet.

Jenny Saunders, CEO, National Energy Action Campaign for Warm Homes

We welcome WWF's Positive Energy report, which makes an important contribution to the energy debate and the role which renewables have to play in the UK’s energy future. In particular, we'd love to see the government set a target for renewables to provide 60% of our energy needs in 2030, as our own research suggests that the UK can become 100% renewable by 2050. Investing now to encourage more renewable generation in the future is the only way to deliver lasting energy security as well as cut our carbon emissions. I hope the government will heed the report's recommendations — we need to take action now and shift control of our energy from corporations to consumers. When people understand where their energy comes from they will value it more and use it less.

Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO, Good Energy

Triodos Bank is a global pioneer of sustainable banking, with a mission to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. We've been investing in the Energy and Climate sector since the early 1980s and have built up a strong track record in this area, funding over 300 sustainable energy projects across Europe.

We welcome the Positive Energy report from WWF which adds weight to the massive contribution renewable energy can play in addressing energy security and environmental issues within the short-to-medium-term.

James Vaccaro, managing director, Triodos Bank

As an industry, the insurance sector sits in favour of decarbonising future energy generation, due to the correlation between climate change and extreme weather events, commodity price volatility, and rising sea levels — all of which impact deeply on insurance businesses.

By investing in key renewable energy developments such as offshore wind, and committing to agreements that provide continuity for the supply chain, only then can we move towards a low carbon economy.

Fraser McLachlan, chief executive office, G Cube Insurance

This important report demonstrates the clear role that wind, wave & tidal power can play in our future generation mix. Through increased interconnection with our European neighbours, we can cut our reliance on imports of fossil fuels from unstable and unfriendly areas of the world — and eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from power generation. WWF are rightly calling on Government to provide the certainty needed to engender investment in renewable energy. I would urge Government to consider the contents of this report thoroughly.

Dr Gordon Edge, director of policy, Renewable UK

With its very robust security of supply analysis, Positive Energy provides an extremely valuable contribution to the debate on renewable electricity. Its recommendation for a 2030 renewable energy target would provide much needed certainty for investors after 2020. The report correctly highlights that increased interconnections including an offshore grid, with the UK at its heart, will enable a further substantial increase in the level of renewables in Europe's energy mix. This will put Europe on track to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, and exploit the economic benefits of being the world leader in wind and other renewable technologies.

Stephane Bourgeois, head of regulatory affairs, European Wind Energy Association

Britain needs huge investment in new sources of green energy to cover the looming gap in generation capacity. A target of 60% renewables by 2030 is achievable if government don't slash the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind (which will deliver the lion's share), if the planning system is reformed (as the government have promised) and if the energy companies commit to serious investment in new green energy — instead of shareholder dividends.

Dale Vince, founder, Ecotricity

Wind turbines and other renewable sources of energy are vital for the future of our birds and wildlife. Climate change is already having a detrimental impact on the natural world and if we are to avoid it becoming a major driver of extinctions then we urgently need to reduce our emissions. That means rapid and widespread deployment of all forms of renewable energy. The RSPB believes that renewable energy can, if sensitively sited and designed, be deployed at the scale suggested in WWF's new report without unacceptable impacts on wildlife. We therefore strongly support WWF's calls for Government to commit to a target of 60% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Harry Huyton, head of climate change, RSPB

This analysis shows that investing in clean energy and energy saving will keep the lights on and help tackle climate change — a win-win for people and planet.

We don't need to gamble on nuclear, and we must avoid an expensive dash for gas that will cause emissions and cost UK households £300 extra every year.

Only by developing UK clean power and using energy more wisely will we stabilise our bills in the long run.

That’s why Friends of the Earth's Final Demand campaign calls for an inquiry into how the Big Six energy firms have kept us hooked on fossil fuels for so long, banking huge profits while people die in cold homes.

Paul Steedman, energy campaigner, Friends of the Earth

This new report is a much welcome addition to the debate on the role that renewables will play in helping us meet our long term carbon targets and in ensuring a safe and secure energy future for the UK. We know from our own experience that much still needs to be done, both to bring down costs to support wider deployment of existing technologies, and to innovate to ensure the next generation of technologies are developed. Government will play a key role in achieving this, setting a stable long term policy framework and providing continued support the UK’s world-leading innovation base, and continuing to work closely with UK industry to ensure these technologies are developed as cost effectively as possible, ensuring that the UK benefits economically from the new industries that will spring up around the UK.

Benj Sykes, director of innovation, The Carbon Trust


So how does the UK achieve this renewable future? It’s all about taking ambitious action to reduce demand for electricity, providing stable investment certainty for the renewables industry and improving our connections with the European energy network. Do all that and we can achieve a secure energy network (i.e. the lights don’t go out!) and avoid resorting to nuclear power. We could also create a springboard for the UK to become a net exporter of clean energy to the rest of Europe.

“This report is inspiring, but also entirely realistic,” says our chief executive, David Nussbaum. “It shows that a clean, renewable energy future really is within our grasp. If we seize this opportunity, it will lay the foundations for a clean industrial revolution in the UK, with all the jobs and export opportunities that brings, as well as being a major step forward in tackling climate change.”

Investor certainty
The report highlights that the government must give investors enough certainty to be willing to make large-scale investments in the UK renewables supply chain. We’re therefore calling on the government to commit to a target of at least 60% renewables in the UK’s electricity mix by 2030. Stable market conditions are also needed so investors have some certainty about getting a good return on their investment.

Energy efficient
The report shows that ambitious action on energy efficiency in households and across the economy could reduce the capital costs for our energy network by up to £40bn by 2030 and more than offset the costs of meeting renewable energy goals.

Better connections

High levels of interconnection with the European energy network would mean that far fewer new gas-fired power stations would be needed in the UK – reducing the amount of infrastructure needing to be built and therefore the cost. It would also prevent over-reliance on gas, which would be bad news for emissions and increase reliance on imported and costly fossil fuels.

David Nussbaum adds: “Harnessing UK renewables potential will help to reduce the volatility of UK consumer bills, as they won’t be at the mercy of fossil fuel price fluctuations, which have driven the majority of price rises in recent years. Examples from other countries, as well as industry projections, show that renewable energy could also create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK.

“Failure to commit to a high-renewables future would leave us facing the prospect of dangerous levels of climate change and high energy prices. The opportunity offered by the clean energy revolution is one that we cannot afford to miss.”

You can:

Read 'Positive Energy: how renewable electricity can transform the UK by 2030'

See a full list of comments on the Positive Energy report from external organisations and individuals

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