Rudd: UK must be ‘better and smarter’ about energy innovation
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has pledged to "light the fire" of energy innovation in 2016, by ramping up investment in research, development and demonstration (RD&D).
Speaking last night (12 January) at an Aldersgate group event at Lloyds in London, Rudd said that energy innovation would be a key theme for the UK over the next year.
“We don’t have all the answers for decarbonisation,” she said. “We must develop technologies that are both green and cheap. Costs of clean energy and clean transport must continue to fall.
“The UK has strong capabilities in R&D and we have been responsible for some amazing steps forward, but we need to do better and we need to be smarter. We need to breathe new life into the research, development, demonstration and deployment cycle.”
The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) saw its innovation budget doubled to £500m over the next five years at last November’s Spending Review. Rudd said she had fought hard for the money, as the department’s overall budget was cut by 22%.
She added: “I really want to explore how we light the fire in innovation. The best way to deliver action on climate change is through the way that we know works best – using the markets, using free enterprise and competition too drive down the costs of climate action and develop new technologies.”
On a mission
Rudd also referenced the UK’s membership of the Mission Innovation programme, which commits its members to doubling their respective R&D investments over five years to a collective $20bn.
That plan was announced at COP21 alongside the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which was established by private investors including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, to invest in zero-carbon energy technology around the world. Gates has previously called for international Governments to triple R&D funding for renewable technologies in order to find a ‘magic solution‘ to climate change.
One of the innovations that Rudd mentioned specifically was energy storage, which has been a hot topic already in 2016, with several companies planning and completing big projects. Rudd said that storage had an important role to play in the UK’s low-carbon future.
However, critics in the audience also pointed out that the Government’s record on new technology was chequered after it recently pulled the plug on funding for carbon capture and storage, which is expected to play a crucial role in decarbonisation.
Earlier in the evening, Prime Minister David Cameron appeared in front of The Commons Liaison Committee, composed of chairs from expert committees in the UK Parliament, hitting back at disapproval of the Conservative Government’s approach to energy and climate change following a succession of green policy changes that have rocked investor confidence and led to thousands of job losses in the renewables sector.
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