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Investment in UK clean energy must be increased in the heat and transport sectors in order to reduce emissions.

That’s the verdict from the International Energy Agency (IEA) who noted that whilst energy-related carbon emissions in 2017 dropped to pre-1890 conditions, the country still holds “significant potential” for improvements beyond the power sector.

The agency suggests a range of solutions, including innovative technologies and electrification can help offset high power costs associated with both the heat and transport sectors, and that efforts should be supported by fiscal policies, streamlined wholesale and retail market regulations, and energy efficiency efforts.

It’s predicted that by 2030, the UK should see its share of variable renewables exceed 50%, which the agency says will require market rules that are flexible enough to facilitate battery storage, interconnections and demand-side-response (DSR) to ensure electricity security.

The IEA also lauded the country for the “major progress” made in emissions reduction, whilst welcoming decarbonisation reforms and clean energy technology innovations.

The agency’s latest review of the UK’s energy policies says that energy-related carbon emissions have dropped by 35% compared to 1990 levels, with total greenhouse emissions down by 40%.

This reduction was spurred by significant investment in renewable energy following the country’s implementation of its Energy Market Reform policy, and the IEA says the country is on track to reduced greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050.

The report notes that as the power sector continues to grow the share of solar and wind power, more opportunities to electrify transport and heat will arise.

The agency says open and efficient energy trade relations will be critical to ensuring the continuation of the existing security and flexibility benefits enjoyed by the UK energy system relative to Brexit.

Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director said: “The United Kingdom has shown real results in terms of boosting investment in renewables, reducing emissions and maintaining energy security. It now faces the challenge of continuing its transition while ensuring the resilience of its energy system.”

UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore added: “This report highlights our reputation as a world leader in the global shift to greener, cleaner economies, cutting emissions by more than 40% since 1990 while growing our economy.

“We can be proud of dramatically decarbonising our energy system, thanks to record levels of investment in renewables, while security of supply has never been in doubt. But we’re not complacent and we’re now on a path to become the first major economy to legislate for net-zero emissions to end our contribution to global warming entirely.”

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