The lowering of CO2 emissions can be achieved but it requires long-term and significant investment at a time when meeting the challenges of fuel poverty and the provision of competitive energy costs is more important than ever. Combine these two vital objectives with maintaining the security of energy supply - considered central to national security - and we have what may look like an impossible triangle.
The energy trilemma
Building the low carbon economy we all need means reducing greenhouse gas emissions across every aspect of our society. Improving the security of energy supplies demands the better utilisation of indigenous resources, the efficient use of all resources and increasing the capacity of low carbon and renewable resources.
Our development of carbon capture and storage for coal and our investment in efficient, gas-fired generation continues to lower the carbon footprint of our own central generation.
This is enhanced by our long-term commitment to modern nuclear power. Decentralised, renewable energy brings low and even zero carbon heat, hot water and electricity directly to local communities. It improves the security of energy supplies nationally and reduces the distribution losses from central generation.
From bio-fuelled combined heat and power (CHP) for low carbon villages, towns and cities through to microgeneration for individual homes, we are working to keep the lights on, costs down and to protect us all from the impact of climate change. Our Sustainable Energy business has become a leader in low carbon, decentralised energy.
There is no silver bullet. Renewables may be low carbon but they rely on the wind, the sun or guaranteed supplies of bio-fuels and, while nuclear power can provide continuous low carbon energy, it requires high investment.
Gas has served us well for many years but, as a country, we must now import it from some volatile parts of the world. Coal may be cheaper but produces more emissions than gas. Our ongoing development of carbon capture and storage could lower the emissions from coal, not only in the UK, but across the world. The truth is we need all these energy sources and technologies to balance the risk. We continue to invest in all of them as we meet the challenges posed by the Energy Trilemma.
The Influences on Energy Efficiency
Across our cities, towns and communities there are a number of routes to lowering carbon emissions, reducing energy use and improving energy security that are beyond those of central generation. However, the single most important factor for change is behaviour.
The influences on energy efficiency in the built environment