A Policy to Support Micro-grids

This policy aims to speed up the goal embraced by the United Kingdom government to ban all petrol and diesel cars by 2040. According to climate activists, in the light of the 2018 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report this goal is too little too late: many suggest the ban should be implemented by 2030 to help significantly reduce carbon emission.

While significant steps have been taken already, as in the introduction of electric busses in UK cities, the spread of electric vehicles among the public has remained limited in spite of their cheaper price. This is mostly due to the lack of refill stations. This same infrastructural limitation prevents the expansion of electrical public transportations.

Micro-grids are an innovative solution to this problem. At its core, a micro-grid is an energy storage system, similar to batteries. Micro-grids have already been implemented in Seattle, where the municipal utility received state grants to develop solar-fueled micro-grids. Similar solutions could be implemented in the UK: the price of renewable technology has steadily decreased in the last decade, making wind and solar power a competitive energy resource.

Government subsidy of municipalities will help local communities, especially outside of major cities, to transition to a greener transportation system without a severe shock. The risk of coming from a premature implementation of a total ban on petrol and diesel cars without adequate preparation is that rural areas which are already isolated and marginalized in the national economy will suffer much more than urban areas. The idea behind this policy is that municipalities are best suited to decide where and how to build micro-grids to provide basic infrastructures and services to the local community, but that government help in the form of subsidy is absolutely necessary for the policy to work.

There are a number of economic and social reasons to subsidize the construction of micro-grids, and more in general to invest in extensive innovation and expansion of UK transportation infrastructures. First, a 2018 report states that UK railroads and roads may face potential damage from the local effects of climate change in the next few decades. This is partially due to the outdated material with which they were built, and to the poor conditions of maintenance. Secondly, a far-reaching renovation and expansion of public transport in the UK is overdue: currently, the inefficiency and prohibitively high price of public transport limits domestic mobility as well as economic development. Thirdly, an imbalanced domestic economy in which Greater London receives most investment and resources is likely to aggravate social and economic inequality in the case of a hard Brexit; more efficient and more affordable transportation can at the same time achieve environmental sustainability and reduce the historical marginalization of the North in the economy.

While the UK Government will be the main facilitator of the implementation of this policy, interest in this project needs to come from the local municipalities as well. Thus, both the participation of the UK State Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, as well as the interest and initiative of local officials are crucial.

Activity Rating: *** Right Direction

While the policy of government-subsidized micro-grids is materially feasible and economically advantageous, it does require an effort in the form of coordination at both the national and municipal level, as well as an appreciation of long-term environmental, social, and economic improvements over short-term financial gains. Its impact and effectiveness also risks being severely diminished if it is not implemented as part of a wider policy of greener and more efficient transports.

Take Action:

While bringing this policy recommendation to the attention of the State Department is of crucial importance, we recommend also directly contacting your local municipal authority to alert them of this project. Please send the following message to the policymaker below:

We congratulate the Government for taking immediate notice of the severity of the finding of the IPCC 2018 report and commissioning a special report on the impact of global warming from the Committee on Climate Change. In the light of the need to further cut carbon emissions, we urge an acceleration in the implementation of the government pledge to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040 to 2030. For this purpose, we urge the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to consider subsidizing the construction of municipal micro-grids to allow for the expansion of public electric transportation and incentivize private use of electric cars by reducing infrastructural barriers.

Contact Information:

Rt Hon Claire Perry MP
Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 7050
Fax: 0207 219 1385
Email: claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard UK Country Manager Valentina Pegolo: Contact Valentina@climatescorecard.org

Learn more:

IPPC 2018 Report:
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/sr15/sr15_spm_final.pdf

Micro-grids:
https://www.utilitydive.com/news/engineering-microgrids-for-municipalities/539709/?fbclid=IwAR0ymzyZW9msz6zrLtBtmbye_CYx8FlpRvlJTOvj0FKuhPVimjCbw1bOr9I

UK Government letter to CCC:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-climate-targets-request-for-advice-from-the-committee-on-climate-change

On the environmental burden of UK transports:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/20/what-steps-can-the-uk-take-to-reach-net-zero-emissions-by-2050

On the example of Sweden:
https://sweden.se/nature/sweden-tackles-climate-change/?fbclid=IwAR3GZMQDCH4yaLP4ijgu7BCfJvHYfF743kpUgP9I2UHRpsiToPA_FcvYPWQ

On affordability of renewable energy technology:
http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/47447/onshore-wind-power-now-as-affordable-as-any-other-source-solar-to-halve-by-2020/

For a more comprehensive overview of policies to combat climate change in the UK:
https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/How_the_UK_can_stop_contributing_to_climate_change.pdf

Other petitions to UK Government and Parliament to further reduce carbon emissions:
https://gofossilfree.org/uk/divest-parliament-averting-climate-breakdown/
https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/joint-letter

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