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A greener, cleaner and secure energy future for the UK - May 25th

birds

Europe’s largest conservation charity, the RSPB, has launched a new report showing how the UK could transform its energy system and meet its 2050 climate targets in harmony with nature.

The RSPB’s 2050 Energy Vision report shows that the UK has the potential to deliver up to four times the UK’s current energy consumption from renewable sources with low risk to wildlife. It added that this level of renewable energy could be produced while avoiding important sites for wildlife, using a mix of solar, onshore wind, bioenergy, offshore wind, wave and tidal power.

The report incorporates new pioneering mapping approaches developed by RSPB scientists to assess where renewable energy technologies could be located to avoid sensitive wildlife areas, while taking account of other planning constraints.

The RSPB has developed three 2050 scenarios that it said would meet the UK’s energy needs. The scenarios highlight that to meet climate targets affordably, securely and in harmony with nature, the UK needs to significantly reduce its energy demand, for example through improved home insulation and energy efficiency. There is also an urgent need to decarbonise the heat and transport sectors, for instance through electric vehicles and heat pumps, and to develop new innovative technologies such energy storage and smarter grid networks. In the short-term, the charity says that existing technologies such as onshore wind and solar can continue to play a key role in decarbonising the UK’s energy supply, provided that projects are sited appropriately for wildlife.

The report shows opportunities for emerging marine energy technologies, such as floating turbines to be located in deeper waters around the UK, where ecological sensitivities are likely to be lower, RSPB said. Further investment in monitoring of wildlife distributions and sensitivities, especially in the marine environment, along with better use of spatial planning, is crucial to ensure that future developments are sited appropriately.

RSPB director of conservation Martin Harper said: “Climate change is one of the greatest long-term threats to wildlife. Rising to this challenge will require a major roll out of renewable and low carbon energy sources.’’

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