Thursday, 18 March 2010

Electric cars and 40 new nuclear power stations to meet climate change targets

Every car on the road will need to be electric and there will be solar panels on every home, 10,000 wind turbines onshore and 40 new nuclear power stations if the Government is to stand a chance of meeting strict climate change targets, engineers have warned.

By Louise GrayPublished: 7:00AM GMT 18 Mar 2010
The Royal Academy of Engineering set out how the UK will meet its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
Even if demand for electricity is reduced from current levels, the Government will still have to engage in "the biggest programme of investment and social change the UK has ever seen" over the next four decades.

The report assumed that the maximum level of renewable electricity will be installed including 9,600 wind turbines on land and a further 10,000 turbines at sea. The Severn Barrage will have to go ahead as well as 1,000 miles of wave machines and further installations for tidal power. Most of the country's 25 million households will have to install solar panels and scrap boilers in favour of heat pumps that take heat out of the air or the ground.
On top of this it will be necessary to build 40 new low carbon power stations such as nuclear or coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) that stores carbon dioxide under ground.
The transport sector will have to be run on electricity from renewables or low carbon energy such as nuclear, meaning a network of charging points across the country.
The authors of the report compared the scale of the challenge to the Victorians building the sewage system or the manufacture of spitfires in the Second World War and warned of blackouts if a massive infrastructure programme does not start immediately.
:: Meanwhile the Royal Society has launched a study into "geo-engineering". The body of top scientists are concerned that measures to stop climate change such as launching mirrors into space to reflect the heat of the sun or fertilising the oceans in order to grow algae and absorb more CO2 could damage the wider environment. The report will suggest guidelines and international agreements to control controversial experiments in future.