The battle against climate change is “like going to war against Hitler” and the UK has no alternative but to transform its energy infrastructure, a report has said.
According to the Royal Academy of Engineering, in their: “Generating the Future” report, energy use and supply must undergo changes the likes of which were last seen during the industrial revolution in order to meet carbon emissions targets.
The report said massive investment in infrastructure is needed to facilitate the change and a shift in attitude is required among homeowners on energy use.
A huge programme of renewables, including the Severn barrage, 9,600 onshore wind turbines and 38 offshore wind farms the size of the planned 341-turbine London Array, 25M solar panels and thousands of wave, hydro and tidal schemes would be needed, the report said.
Embracing nuclear power and developing so-called ‘clean’ coal plants which can capture and store carbon will also be a key part of the UK’s transformation into a zero carbon nation.
The scale of the task has sparked comparisons with some of the UK’s most famous national efforts, with one university professor comparing the challenge to that of the programme of building Spitfires during the second world war.
Professor Nick Cumpsty, one of the contributors of the report, added: “It’s like going to war with Hitler - it’s not what it will cost, it’s what alternative do we have?”
Prof Cumpsty said the UK’s efforts to realise a low carbon future were on a similar scale to the development of sewers, waterworks and railways in Victorian times.
The report also warned that consumers are likely to foot the bill of such a wide-ranging programme of change as new energy sources such as wind turbines, “smart grids” and tidal systems are introduced to the energy network.