By Paul Homewood
h/t Philip Bratby
Jillian Ambrose seems quite pleased that Britain is going up the table. Unfortunately it is UK industry that is paying the price.
The Treasury’s carbon tax has propelled Britain into the top 10 of a global low-carbon electricity league table faster than any other country, igniting calls from the clean energy industry for the upcoming budget to keep the support in place.
The fresh research shows that Britain has climbed from a 2012 ranking of 20th out of 33 industrialised countries to 7th on the low-carbon electricity league table.
The top 3 include Norway and Sweden, which use vast amounts of hydropower, and France, which relies mainly on nuclear power generation.
Britain’s 13 place leap in just four years is the fastest ascent of any country, according to Imperial College London, which authored the report.
“Britain is reducing its carbon emissions from electricity faster than any other major country, and this has happened because the carbon price and lower gas prices have forced coal off the system – the amount of coal-fired power generation in Britain has fallen 80pc between 2012 and 2016,” said Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial College London.
The tax, known as the carbon price floor, was introduced in 2013 to charge fossil fuel power plants for their carbon emissions.
The market-based measure is currently set at £23 a tonne of carbon until 2020 and is designed as a “top up” to the European emissions trading system, which has languished at £5 a tonne on the Continent over much of the year.
Government has pledged to give further details on the carbon tax in next week’s Budget, but is caught between calls to maintain or lift the tax to boost Britain’s green economy and fears that it may saddle heavy industry with a competitive disadvantage as the country leaves the European Union.
UK businesses already have the second highest energy bills in the EU, even though British households have some of the lowest across the bloc, because carbon-cutting and social policies add 20pc to the bill. The Major Energy Users Council (MEUC) has warned that many will find the impact swell to 40pc by 2020.
But calls for the tax to continue into the 2020s are strong from low-carbon electricity generators including renewable power operators, nuclear giant EDF Energy and Drax Power which collaborated on the report.
Drax operates the largest single power generation site in the UK, supplying around 7pc of the nation’s electricity. In the past the plant was fuelled entirely by coal but Drax now produces around 70pc of its electricity by burning renewable biomass pellets.
Andy Koss, the chief executive of Drax Power, said it is “vital” that Treasury maintain the carbon price in the Budget if the UK is to meet its climate change targets.
“Without it we could see a reversal of the impressive results achieved so far – look at what’s happened elsewhere,” he said.
While coal generation has fallen in the UK, Dutch coal-dired power plants have ramped up due to sluggish European carbon price, causing emissions in the Netherlands to rise by 40pc between 2012 to 2016.