The UK has been warned it should invest more in the development of low carbon technologies if it is to achieve ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Innovations such as offshore wind, wave power, smart grids and meters, will help achieve the target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the year 2050, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said.
The independent body, set up to report on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said developing green technologies would also provide a boost to the economy in the long term.
It warned that without government support, a range of essential low carbon technologies were likely to get stuck in a “valley of death” where development is stalled and fails to make it to market.
The technologies are “vital” in generating cleaner forms of electricity, which can then be used to fuel electric vehicles and heating and in creating energy efficient buildings, it said.
Any reduction in current funding levels of £550M a year for research and development of green technologies would increase the risk of missing targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and would see the UK losing out on “critical” opportunities to build a green economy, the CCC said.
Once financial pressures have eased, increased funding will be required in specific cases such as marine technologies and electric vehicles, and for low-carbon innovation more generally, over the next decade, the CCC said.
The findings were published in a report to the Government chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington.
Professor Julia King, CCC member, said: “The case for action is strong. With adequate funding, new policies and strengthened delivery arrangements, we would expect UK firms to take leading roles in the development of key technologies, driving down emissions to meet carbon budgets and targets, and fulfilling the new Government’s clear objective to build a low-carbon economy.”