A recent forecast completed by British authorities, based on a calculator developed by Professor David MacKay, chief scientific adviser to the country’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, confirms earlier EU estimates in finding that an energy policy aimed at moderately reducing carbon emissions would, in fact, prove less expensive than simply doing nothing. A moderate energy policy is defined in the calculations as one which  “envisages a mix of electricity generation comprising 42% renewable energy, 31% nuclear power and 27% gas plants with the carbon captured and stored underground (CCS).” These moderate energy policies place less emphasis on building new nuclear power facilities, instead focusing on retrofitting homes and educating the public on improving energy efficiency.

While providing an interesting glimpse at the potential long-term costs of such low-carbon policies, the calculator utilized in these forecasts has been criticized for relying too heavily on the present state of energy prices, noting that these forecasts could be significantly altered by even the slightest shift in energy-market trends. The calculator’s virtues lie in its ability to allow users to compare the relative costs of various energy policies, thereby engendering more significant, practical discussion of low-carbon approaches.

Several regional variants of the calculator are currently being developed for China, Portugal and Belgium.

Source: Article in the Guardian

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The 2050 Pathways Calculator

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