The renewable energy industry has criticised a report by consultancy firm AF Consult that claims UK emissions targets will be met more efficiently without the use of renewable technologies.
The report, called Powerful Targets: Exploring the relative cost of meeting decarbonisation and renewables targets in the British power sector, appears to be a reworking of a report by another consultancy firm – KPMG – last year. After KPMG’s preliminary findings were slammed by the industry, it refused to release the full report.
“The assumptions and parameters used in the model produced large swings in the financial outcomes”, the company said in a brief statement.
“To avoid any misinterpretation, we decided not to publish any findings.”
But, following on from KPMG’s research, Swedish consulting company AF Consult told the Sunday Times that it was going to release the report this week. National Wind Watch has republished the article on its website.
Produced from the dying embers of KPMG’s Thinking About the Affordable report, unsurprisingly, the regurgitated version has received considerable disapproval from renewable energy advocates.
RenewableUK’s director of policy, Gordon Edge, said, “Bringing this wilfully narrow report back from the dead fails to bring anything worthwhile to the current energy debate.
“KPMG has been wise to distance itself from the study and its findings as the extremely simplistic approach it uses bears little relation to reality, simply translating a set of assumptions into a particular conclusion.”
The report highlights three scenarios. The first looks at what would happen without any carbon reduction targets; the second examines a situation that accounts for these targets; and the third includes carbon reduction targets with the added requirement of meeting renewable electricity generation targets.
AF Consult concludes that scenario three will be the most costly, and because scenario one is deemed inappropriate in the push for a low-carbon economy, that leaves scenario two, which is mainly driven by gas and nuclear, and the scenario touted as the UK’s best option.
But Matthias Fripp, NextEra Energy Resources research fellow in renewable energy at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, said that the report’s methodology was flawed.
“It may be more useful to look at the AF Consult report as a presentation of two competing visions for the future of the power system: one based almost entirely on nuclear power, and one where about 30% of the electricity comes from wind instead of nuclear power”, he said.
“The rest of the power system is pretty similar between the two cases.
“AF Consult happens to have assumed that nuclear power will cost less than wind power, but the opposite could well be true.
“It would be risky to simply assume we should do the whole job with nuclear power and then shut out renewables on that basis.”
Meanwhile, Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said that the AF Consult had completely missed the point with its report.
“It is not just a question of finding the cheapest way to save carbon”, she said. “A secure energy future is one where the fuels don’t run out, and nor do the places to store their waste.
“Do we really want to remain tied to unstable political regimes, or to the end of a pipeline that is tapped into by many energy-hungry economies before it reaches us? Renewable energy solves these problems, and brings many other advantages.”
So far, AF Consult are yet to comment or officially release anything related to the report, which makes us question whether it too, like KPMG, is about to sheepishly retract its ill-informed findings.
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Picture source: Nick Engelfried