London — UK and US stimulus packages for energy announced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are heavily weighted to support legacy fossil fuel energy, according to an Oct. 29 report by Finland-based engineering company Wartsila.
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The packages miss the opportunity to create green jobs and accelerate the transition to a flexible, renewable energy-powered economy, Wartsila said, referencing data compiled by Energypolicytracker.org.
The tracker shows that, of $403 billion allocated by G20 governments to new or amended energy policy instruments since the beginning of the pandemic, at least $216 billion relate to oil, gas and coal support versus $146 billion to clean energy support and $40 billion to "other energy".
For the US the split between fossil and clean energy support is stark, at $72 billion for fossil and $27 billion for clean energy.
The UK is only slightly better at $39 billion for fossil and $16 billion for clean energy. The tracker is constantly updated as policies evolve.
"This level is not aligned with the UK's ambitious targets to achieve 57% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 compared with 1990 levels and net-zero by 2050," Wartsila said in the report.
If UK energy stimulus was entirely focused on renewables, the sector could achieve a share of 60% in the generation mix by 2025, it said.
"This would cut power sector carbon emissions by 58% compared to current levels and put the UK on track to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050," it said.
A cost-optimal 60% renewable power system in the UK would consist of 60 GW renewable capacity (existing and new), 7 GW of battery energy storage and 14 GW of flexible gas-based generation enabled for future carbon-neutral fuels, the report said.
This fits with Wartsila's product offering of battery storage units and gas-fired generation sets that in future should be able to run on hydrogen.