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Blueprint For Low Carbon Economy Highlights Positive Long-Term Economic Prospects

Under Embargo for
00:01 Thursday 6 September

A report produced by the Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology (ICCEPT) for the Carbon Trust says that moving to a low carbon economy is consistent with achieving long-term economic prosperity and would create significant opportunities for the UK low carbon technology industry.

The Carbon Trust, established by the Government to help achieve a long-term reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through the development of a low carbon economy, has welcomed the findings.

The report, "Scoping RD&D Priorities For A Low Carbon Future", was researched widely through interviews with key stakeholders. It argues that the transition to a low carbon economy is both technologically and economically feasible. The report says that energy would be used and produced more efficiently and there would be a greater role for renewables as an energy source. It also says that stimulating the market for low carbon technologies presents a considerable opportunity for UK industry engaged in developing low carbon technologies.

ICCEPT has recommended that the Carbon Trust concentrates on four main areas:

  • research, development and demonstration (RD&D) programme into key technologies chosen to deliver carbon savings in the medium and long term;
  • ways of developing the skills base in the UK to ensure that enough trained people are available to develop and use new technologies;
  • encouraging international co-operation in technology development and deployment;
  • a strong programme of social and economic research into the longer-term non-technical issues associated with a transition to a low carbon economy.

The technologies the ICCEPT report recommends that the Carbon Trust should be promoting fall into two groups:

1. Those with good medium-term prospects capable of yielding continual but incremental reductions of carbon emissions, by improving energy efficiency or by reducing carbon emitted per unit of energy use. Included in these are:

  • energy efficiency improvements in buildings, industry, transport and electricity supply from fossil fuels
  • renewable energy from biomass and onshore and coastal wind
  • fossil fuel conversion to gas with carbon separation and sequestration
  • micro-turbines for distributed generation and heat

2. Those with good long-term prospects of yielding very large reductions of emissions, or of a complete transition to a zero carbon economy. They are sometimes described as disruptive or transforming technologies:

  • solar energy and the full range of offshore renewable energy resources
  • storage systems for stationary applications and transport, to solve the economic problem posed by the irregularity of renewable energy
  • hydrogen production, distribution and storage technologies
  • fuel cells for transport, for distributed generation and heating.

ICCEPT considers that the current international policy focus on agreeing emissions targets should now be broadened to consider the development of technologies and practices required for meeting those targets. A forum set up by the Carbon Trust to promote international exchange of information on current technological developments could support RD&D for advanced low carbon technologies and push forward the 'technological frontier'.

The report predicts that world energy markets are set to double or triple in the coming decades and sees immense economic opportunities for low carbon technologies as a result of this increased demand.


For further details contact:

Professor Dennis Anderson
Tel: 020 7594 6776

Abigail Smith
Press Officer, Imperial College
Tel: 020 7594 6701
Mobile: 07803 886248

Notes to Editors:

1. The Carbon Trust was launched in March 2001 by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott as part of the Government's programme to help tackle climate change. The Trust will aim to ensure that businesses successfully adapt to meet the challenges presented by climate change, and help the UK to meet ongoing emissions targets.

2. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine is the largest applied science, technology and medicine university institution in the UK. It is consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions for research quality, with one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP339 million in 1999-2000) and research incomes (UKP176 million in 1999-2000). Web site: