There has ‘never been a better time’ for low carbon innovations, government claims

There has never been a better time for innovative, low carbon energy technologies to come to market, the government has claimed.

Chris Skidmore, standing in for Claire Perry as energy and clean growth minister, made the claim while speaking yesterday at COGX, an event dedicated to artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies during London Tech Week.

Unveiling both the Smart Export Guarantee for small-scale renewables and the most recent winners of the Energy Entrepreneur Fund, Skidmore spoke of the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation for a net zero economy by 2050, and how the energy sector has changed beyond recognition since the centralised system of the 1980s.

“[Back then] coal was king, while solar power and offshore wind were considered curiosities – or even fantasies – if they were ever considered at all,” he said.

But the widespread adoption and subsequent sophistication of renewables and other clean energy innovations has made for a change “as profound as the birth of the steam engine”.

“Not only are we decarbonising, we’re also diversifying – bringing these new technologies in, alongside natural gas and nuclear, to modernise our approach to energy. At the same time, we are building flexibility and reliability into a new, digitalised, decentralised system, through the rollout of smart meters and the deployment of technologies such as batteries and smart appliances, as outlined in our Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan,” Skidmore added.

Research and development has been identified as as a key area of focus for the government, especially in energy associated technologies such as a battery storage and electric vehicles, as it looks to gain international leads in strategic fields and technologies.

It intends to see R&D spend increase to 2.4% of GDP before rising again to as much as 3% which, when coupled with efforts from the government to shift renewables from subsidy-backed support schemes to market-led frameworks, develop a decentralised power system fit for a net zero economy.

“All of this will mean that there has never been a better time for innovative, low-carbon products and services to come to market. And with this legislation, we will ensure that we achieve that smart, green, flexible future we all want to see.”

Skidmore concluded by restating the government’s ambition to host COP26, which is to be held next year. The UK has officially bid to host the landmark climate summit with a decision expected to be announced later this month.

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