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New Center for Carbon Measurement to drive UK's low carbon economy

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) today launches its Centre for Carbon Measurement, which will ensure the UK leads the world in climate modelling, global carbon markets and green technology. Business and government have welcomed the project, highlighting its potential to reduce emissions and stimulate the economy.

The UK, like most nations, is implementing policies to meet emissions reduction targets through clean energy generation, improved efficiency, developing low carbon technology and behavioural change. Scientifically underpinned carbon measurement is critical to achieving all of these. The Centre will provide reliable climate data on which to base policies; support international regulations and voluntary schemes for carbon trading and monitoring; and help to develop and measure the performance of low-carbon technologies.

The Centre has received vocal support from government, academia and large and small business. Organisations that expect to benefit from the centre include E.ON, The National Grid, The National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Coventry University and Surrey Satellites.

The Centre will support UK business, government and academia in three ways. Firstly, it will improve the accuracy and consistency of climate data through improved ground-based and satellite measurement technology and better data analysis. This will feed into climate models to give us a better understanding of the long term impact of climate change and enable governments to develop more focussed policies for mitigation and adaptation.

Secondly, the Centre will develop the underpinning measurement science and technology to support carbon markets and accounting. This will enable comparisons across projects, companies and borders, ensure a fair and stable carbon market and support businesses in reporting, managing and offsetting emissions. London is currently the centre of the carbon market with over 80% of carbon traded there in 2009. Developing fit-for-purpose measurement capabilities will be important to the long term success of emissions trading and offsetting schemes and assuring the UK's place as the global centre of carbon markets.

Thirdly, the Centre will provide access to the best measurement techniques for developers of low carbon technology, allowing scientific validation of their performance and thereby giving confidence to investors and buyers. Such support is key to commercialising advances in areas such as energy efficient technology, fuel cells, photovoltaics and offshore renewables.

The type of projects already in the pipeline for the Centre include: reducing uncertainties in climate data; providing technical input to guidance for companies reporting climate impact; detecting and quantifying leaks from Carbon Capture and Storage demonstrators; and providing a scientifically robust framework for estimating carbon savings from smart grids and large-scale building energy efficiency projects.

The Centre will provide business, government and academia with access to the knowledge, advice and technology at NPL and wider UK carbon measurement capabilities. SMEs which bring value to the UK economy and environment will have opportunities to apply for match-funded support including an initial half million pound fund for low carbon innovators.

NPL is already involved in more than 6m of low carbon projects a year, which have a track record of delivering a 1:20 return to the UK economy. The Centre aims to triple this volume over three years. It will also focus on up-skilling the UK workforce in carbon measurement and attracting business to the UK. A study to evaluate the environmental and economic impact of the Centre will report later in the year.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, welcomed the Centre: "The science of measurement is essential in underpinning the transition to a low carbon economy. As the UK is a world leader in both measurement science and the centre of the global carbon market it is only right that we develop the right infrastructure to support this transition. The Centre for Carbon Measurement at NPL is designed to do this, to provide reliable measurements with a sound scientific and technical basis that will improve the understanding of the global climate, support policies for mitigating climate change, and accelerate the development of low-carbon technologies."

Dr Richard Busby, Environment Manager for energy company, E.ON, adds: "There must be a robust scientific foundation of carbon measurement if we are to address the risks of climate change. The power industry is a key stakeholder here, not only in managing emissions from power generation, but also in technologies that underpin energy conservation and efficiency, such as carbon capture and storage, monitoring energy loss from buildings, and smart metering. All of these rely on accurate and reliable measurement and E.ON's will offer continuing support for this endeavour."

Contact: David Lewis
National Physical Laboratory

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