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Energy Majors Call for Net-Zero Grid


Major energy companies have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and ministers, urging him to adopt a timeline for decarbonising the country’s electricity grid in line with US President-elect Joe Biden’s 2035 deadline.

Letter signatories BP, Drax, National Grid ESO, Sembcorp Energy UK, Shell and SSE are calling on the government to launch a consultation on a date for a net-zero power grid and to confirm a deadline ahead of COP26.

SSE has suggested a 2040 date, just five years after the target proposed for the US electricity grid in Biden’s Clean Energy Plan. An early date will “continue UK leadership on electricity sector decarbonisation,” the letter says,

The letter, also addressed to chancellor Rishi Sunak, Business Secretary and COP26 President Alok Sharma and energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng, celebrates the progress already made in decarbonising the power grid, including a dramatic 63% reduction in emissions between 2012 and 2019 alone.

The letter suggests strategies that could advance this progress, including carbon pricing. Carbon pricing has already bolstered long-term investment in low carbon generation, allowing the UK to marginalise coal for power and for renewables to overtake fossil fuels in the energy mix for the first time in Q1 2020.

“It is thanks to successive governments’ commitment to robust carbon pricing that the UK is now using levels of coal in power generation last seen 250 years ago—before the birth of the steam locomotive,” the letter states.

It echoes another recent letter to the government, signed by 50 companies and urging the government to commit to stronger and more consistent carbon pricing ahead of Brexit.

SSE Chief Executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “The electricity system will be the backbone of a decarbonised economy and a clear pathway for net zero emissions from electricity by 2040, alongside stable and robust carbon pricing and an evolved market design, will ensure maximum value at lowest cost and focus industry and investors’ minds on the job in hand.”

National Grid Electricity Systems Operator (ESO) has previously suggested the UK could have gas-free, zero-carbon periods as early as 2025 and confirmed that it has “systems, products and services” in place that could enable that.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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