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Programme to make clean energy cheaper than coal

The Global Apollo Programme aims to make the cost of clean electricity lower than that from coal-fired power stations across the world within 10 years, The Guardian has reported.

It calls for £15bn a year of spending on research, development and demonstration of green energy and energy storage, the same funding in today’s money that the US’ Apollo programme spent in putting astronauts on the moon.

The plan is the brainchild of a group of eminent UK scientists, economists and businessmen including Sir David King, currently the UK’s climate change envoy, Lord Nicholas Stern, Lord Adair Turner and ex-BP chief Lord John Browne.

Sir David King said green energy already had advantages over fossil fuel power in cutting deadly air pollution and reducing the carbon emissions that drive global warming. But he said making clean energy cheaper was important, too.

He added that many countries were interested in the plan, including the UK, US, Japan, China, Korea, Mexico and the UAE. In particular, Sir David King said Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister and solar energy enthusiast, was keen.

The programme has been discussed by G7 energy ministers and is on the agenda for the G7 heads of state meeting in Germany on 7 June.

It is hoped the project will launch in November, just ahead of the crunch UN climate change summit in Paris which nations have set as a deadline for a global deal.

The scheme aims to double the money being spent globally on research and development of renewable energy, energy storage and smart grids from its current level of 2% of the world’s research and development (R&D) budget.

Nations joining the programme would commit to spending 0.02% of GDP on the R&D and would get a place on a global commission that would co-ordinate and direct the research to avoid duplication.

A similar, though smaller, commission already exists to coordinate R&D on semiconductors, which has resulted in continuous falls in computer chip costs.

There would be no central Apollo fund and nations would still control how they spent their own money.

The UK already spends 0.02% of its GDP on clean energy, as do some other developed nations, but other countries do not and there is no international co-operation to maximise the results.

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