International Abatement Opportunities

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The International Emissions Abatement Project sought to assess the UK’s carbon abatement trajectory relative to those of Germany, Japan, US, China and India. The work analysed contextual energy related issues within a consistent framework of analysis, emission abatement trajectories and implementation strategies of these nations relative to modelled generation mixes to 2020.

From this, assessment of opportunities that other nations emissions trajectories may present to the UK from a technology transfer, collaboration and business value creation perspective have been made.


In the ERP-DECC meeting of 30th November 2010, Greg Barker raised the concern that there was a perception the UK was lagging other countries in its ability to implement carbon abatement applications and technologies.  Specifically, that the UK was focused on capital intensive supply side solutions whilst other countries, for example Germany, were addressing demand side issues negating the need for large scale capital expenditure.  This resulted in the development of the International Emissions Abatement Opportunities project.

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Key Insights

Key insights of the review include:

Abatement Trajectories for Respective Nations.

  • All the nations in this review, with the possible exception of the US, will become increasingly energy insecure to 2020 and 2050.  The deployment of renewable and nuclear power is seen as a way of addressing energy security concerns as well as fulfilling respective environmental agendas.
  • The UK is pursuing similar abatement programmes to the other countries in this survey – switching from coal to gas, maintaining nuclear (except in Germany) and with regards to renewables generation, predominantly deploying wind, biomass and solar technologies.
  • All nations both in the OECD and rapidly emerging economies have energy efficiency and demand side management (DSM) programmes to reduce capital build requirements although these vary widely in scale, potential and ambition.

Capital Intensity of UK Power Generation Capacity Development to 2020.

  • Despite the energy efficiency and DSM programmes, all nations have highly capital intensive generation build programmes.  In terms of net capacity build to 2020, as a function of present capacity, the UK’s projected increase (17%) is on a par with the US (12%) and Japan (10%) and substantially less than Germany (26%), China (91%) and India’s (123%) – though in absolute terms China’s addition of 840 GW is the largest outlay of generation capacity.
  • In terms of value capture opportunities based on the deployment activity, the UK needs to consider how best to establish energy research and industrial policy frameworks to help grow, and capture value within international (low carbon) industrial value chains where the competitive advantage for process innovation will almost certainly lie in Asia.

Collaborative Opportunities based on National Deployment Rates and Patterns.

  • Different opportunities will arise in different phases of abatement technology development, necessitating different types of collaboration.  Based on national deployment agendas (TRL 9), this work has identified, at a high level, indicative areas that the UK would be in a position to collaborate and the type of collaboration, on a sectoral basis within this group of countries – this is detailed in section 4 of the report.

Follow-up activities

The review has fed into the following areas of government engagement:

  • A policy note to government.  A policy briefing summarising this work was sent to Greg Barker on 20th July 2011.
  • Feeding into the Global Strategic Trends 5 (2014) publication on Energy Technology Development to 2045.  The Futures Team, Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre, MOD Shrivenham requested input to sections on energy and transport technology for the Global Strategic Trends 5 publication based on the material in this review.  The Global Strategic Trends 5 publication maps global macro-drivers upon which the MoD and other government departments base their strategic planning; the next publication makes forecasts to 2045.
  • Feeding into the ERP International Engagement Project.  The ERP International Engagement project seeks to improve the resolution of the collaborative component of this work by matching up UK capability to develop technologies, the relevance of the technologies to energy systems and the potential for business to exploit the technology to provide a comprehensive assessment of areas where the UK should engage with other nations for business value creation, technology transfer and/or collaboration. Material from this review will assist in that work.

Working Group

  • Project Chair: Tom Delay – The Carbon Trust
  • Richard Neale – Atkins
  • Duncan McLaren – Friends of the Earth

Further information


IEA Energy Technology Perspectives

Grantham Institute for Climate Change

UNEP: The GAP Report

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