Britain could be carbon-free by 2030

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Britain could become a ‘carbon-free’ country in just twenty years, according to a new report published by the Wales-based Centre for Alternative Technology.

The authors call for a reduction in demand for electricity in ‘energy obese Britain’ of 50 per cent by 2027. This would be incentivised through an international carbon budget passed down to consumers in the form of carbon ‘credit cards’ – tradable quotas for carbon which would decrease in quantity year-on-year.

The strategy also calls for wholesale shift in transportation fuels away from hydrocarbons such as petrol and diesel, and towards electricity. A change in our diet, away from meat and dairy products and towards locally produced cereals, is also critical in reducing energy use.

Nuclear power is dismissed as politically and technologically ‘brittle’, and its place would be taken by a massive increase in off-shore wind power, tidal generation, the use of biomass crops, such as switchgrass, the inclusion of solar panels in new buildings, and a mandatory use of the ‘waste’ heat generated when producing electricity.

The variable demand for electricity, which varies from hour-to-hour as well as month-to-month, would be smoothed out through a combination of electrical, and water storage solutions, as well as ‘intelligent appliances’, which shut-down when they detect that the grid is at peak load.

Paul Allen, Development Director at the Centre, called for a programme of change based on the report akin to the Space Race:
‘It is a political challenge, but we had the political will to abolish slavery even though people said it would cost the economy too much,’ he said.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist July 2007