The UK government has today published its long-awaited Energy White Paper, setting out ambitious plans to ‘clean up our energy system’, support up to 220,000 British jobs, and keep bills affordable as we transition to net zero by 2050.
The Energy White Paper sets out specific steps the government will take over the next decade to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings by 230 million metric tonnes, equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently.
Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said:
“Today’s plan establishes a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources that will put our country at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution.
“Through a major programme of investment and reform, we are determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come.
“At every step of the way, we will place affordability and fairness at the heart of our reforms – unleashing a wave of competition so consumers get the best deals possible on their bills, while protecting the vulnerable and fuel poor with additional financial support.
With this long-term plan, we are turning climate ambition into climate action – putting the UK firmly on the course to net zero to end our contribution to climate change as we build back greener.”
Core parts of the Energy White Paper include:
- Supporting up to 220,000 jobs in the next 10 years, including long-term jobs in major infrastructure projects for power generation, carbon capture storage and hydrogen.
- Transforming the UK’s energy system from one that was historically based on fossil fuels to one that is fit for a net zero economy, changing how we heat our homes and travel, doubling our electricity use, and harnessing renewable energy supplies.
- Keeping bills affordable for consumers.
- Generating emission-free electricity by 2050 with power ‘overwhelmingly decarbonised’ by 2030.
- Establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) from 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the Transition Period.
- Continuing to explore a range of financing options for new nuclear.
- Investing £1 billion in state-of-the-art carbon capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 – sucking carbon out of industrial processes to stop emissions escaping to the air. Four low carbon clusters are planned to be set up by 2030, with at least one fully net zero cluster by 2040.
- Kick-starting the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030, backed up by a new £240m net zero Hydrogen Fund for low carbon hydrogen production.
- Investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways as well as up to £1 billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass-production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles.
- An expectation that by the mid 2030s all newly installed heating systems are to be low carbon or to be appliances that can be converted to a clean fuel supply.
- Supporting North Sea oil and gas transition for the people and communities most affected by the move away from oil and gas production, ensuring that the expertise of the oil and gas sector be drawn on in developing carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production to provide new green jobs.
Reacting to the Paper, Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the REA, said:
“We welcome the continued commitment to renewables and the green transition in this morning’s announcement, especially the recognition that energy efficiency must be prioritised alongside new capacity. While there is little new on the renewables side, the commitment to EV funding, and recognition of biomass a ‘strategic sector’ is welcome as is certainty on the successor ETS scheme for the UK.”
“This White Paper, though, comes after the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon budget recommendations for the need to bend the Green House Emissions “curve” sooner rather than later and the need to accelerate our low carbon transition.
“Ideally, we would have seen more on the Government’s plans for decarbonising the hard-to-treat heat and transport sector, so today’s announcement should be seen as another step on the journey rather than a be all and end all publication.”
Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said:
“Today’s White Paper clearly establishes the Government’s intention to shift the UK from a fossil fuel economy towards one powered by clean, green energy sources; with renewable energy acknowledged as delivering the cheap, low-carbon energy we need to achieve this.
“Scotland is already at the forefront of the energy transition with the equivalent of 90 per cent of its electricity consumption generated by renewable energy resources. The next priority is to decarbonise heat and transport and the White Paper provides the supporting context needed to ensure Scotland’s abundant onshore and offshore wind resource is harnessed to address this.
“Scotland’s renewables industry is currently worth £5.5 billion per year, with each additional gigawatt of renewable energy creating 1,500 jobs and adding £133 million GVA to the economy. Our industry will be critical to ambitions to fulfil the North Sea energy transition with Scotland ideally placed to deliver a growing percentage of the clean electricity and green hydrogen we need for the green economic recovery and to create new jobs.
“The ambition to grow heat pump installations to 600,000 per year by 2028 plus the commitment to place affordability and fairness at the heart of our reforms will also benefit Scottish home owners, especially those in remote rural areas where heating costs are disproportionately high.”
RenewableUK’s Head of Policy and Regulation Rebecca Williams said:
“This broad blueprint provides clear visibility on how the UK can ramp up decarbonisation across a wide range of sectors. We’re pleased to see the white paper describes onshore and offshore wind as key building blocks for the future generation mix, and that it highlights the need for sustained growth in these industries to reach net zero. Innovative floating wind will also play a major role in this.
“The Government’s announcement of a clean hydrogen strategy to be published in the spring sends a strong signal of its commitment to develop this flexible power source – renewable hydrogen can be produced at scale using electricity generated by wind. We need to use every viable technology to decarbonise as fast and as cheaply as possible.
“We hope the series of wide-ranging consultations announced today will speed up our work building the high renewable net zero electricity system this country needs. This includes fine-tuning Contracts for Differences to ensure they continue to offer best value for money for consumers while accelerating the growth of the UK renewables supply chain. CfDs have successfully delivered massive cost reductions, making renewables our cheapest new power sources, and our members are working tirelessly to maximise supply chain opportunities for companies throughout the country”.
“Ministers have taken on board a number of our policy recommendations, including the need to reform Ofgem with a consultation on the regulator’s strategy and policy, which we hope will ensure it puts net zero at the heart of its decision-making process as soon as possible”.
The Energy White Paper can be viewed in full here.