The Azimuth Project
Zero carbon Britain 2030

Idea

Zero carbon Britain 2030, produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, is an ambitious plan to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions:

The goal is to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions to zero in 20 years with no new nuclear power. It involves dramatic reductions (over 50%) in energy use (called PowerDown) and massive use of renewables, especially offshore wind (PowerUp).

Details

The Centre for Alternative Technology has produced three reports, in 2007, 2010, and 2013. The figures here come mainly from the third one. The differences between them are not large.

PowerDown

Efficiency improvements and technology changes such as insulation and electrification of transport would provide some of the reduction in carbon emissions.

There would also need to be major behavioural changes. These include: 20% less travel overall; more public transport; aviation reduced to one third of current levels, with very few internal flights. Also, less meat consumed, with cow and sheep stocks in particular much reduced. One chapter of the report is devoted to methods for changing people’s behaviour.

In total these changes would reduce energy use to about 45% of 2010 levels.

Land use

4.1 Mha of land would be converted to growing energy crops, most of which is currently used to graze livestock.

After appropriate management changes, the land would remove carbon dioxide from the air and sequester it in soil or vegetation. This would accumulate carbon for 20-30 years, after which the soil and vegetation would be saturated and new technologies would be required.

PowerUp

There is no carbon capture, and no new nuclear in this plan. Nearly all energy generation would be electricity, with some biofuels for transport, especially aviation. Electricity generation would be dominated by offshore wind as shown by the table:

Renewable electricity

SourceTWh/yDetails
Offshore wind530140 GW maximum power, 14,000 turbines rated 10 MW
Onshore wind5120 GW maximum power, 10,000 turbines rated 2 MW
Wave power2510 GW maximum power
Tidal (range and stream)4220 GW maximum power
Solar PV5875 GW maximum power, covering 10-15% of UK roof area
Geothermal electricity243 GW maximum power
Hydropower83 GW maximum power

Total electricity 738

Renewable heat Energy

SourceTWh/yDetails
Solar thermal25Covering around 3% of UK roof area
Geothermal heat15
Ambient heat105Extracted from air, ground and water by heat pumps

Total heat 145 TWh/y

Biomass Energy

SourceTWh/yDetails
For biogas and carbon neutral synthetic gas94From waste (37 TWh) and grasses for anaerobic digestion (AD) (57 TWh)
For carbon neutral synthetic fuel143From Miscanthus and Short Rotation Coppice (SRC)
For heat37From Short Rotation Coppice (SRC)and Short Rotation Forestry (SRF)

Total biomass 274 TWh/y

TOTAL RENEWABLES 1,157 TWh/y

27 TWh a year of carbon-neutral gas is produced and used as backup, producing about 14 TWh/y of electricity.

Methodology

The methodology used in this report is described in six more technical reports. Also see Zero carbon Britain methodology.

category: action, energy