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Government announces strategy to boost UK’s energy security and achieve Net Zero

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The Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps has today unveiled plans to increase the UK’s energy independence, boost investment in clean energy and achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.

The ‘Powering Up Britain’ document, the first major strategy announcement since the creation of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, features a number of different measures designed to support the country’s transition away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, reducing emissions and household bills. It is also the Government’s response to Chris Skidmore Net Zero Review released earlier this year.

In launching the strategy, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“We have seen over the past year what can happen when global energy supplies are disrupted, and a tyrant like Putin uses energy as a weapon.

“Access to cheap, abundant and reliable energy provide the foundation stone of a thriving economy with our homes and businesses relying on it to deliver our future prosperity.

“Following our unprecedented cost of living support this Winter, which continues, this plan now sets out how we fix this problem in the long term to deliver wholesale UK electricity prices that rank amongst the cheapest in Europe, as we export our green growth expertise to the world.”

Measures announced today include:

  • A renewed commitment to Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS). Eight projects will progress  to the next stage of negotiations to form the first CCUS clusters, based in the North East and West. 
  • Deliver a hydrogen economy. Backing the first tranche of new green hydrogen production projects under the £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund as part of the sector’s development.
  • Accelerate the deployment of renewables, adding up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 and increasing the level of solar power to 70GW by 2035. The latter will be assisted by the establishment of a joint solar energy taskforce and roadmap, to help “maximise deployment of both ground and rooftop solar”.
  • The fifth round of the UK’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme will be opened to help incentivise investment in renewable energy. £160m of funding will be provided for pilots of the ‘Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme’.
  • More Funding for Heat Networks. Capital support will be extended to 2028 to aid in the continued growth of low-carbon heat networks, including £220 million for the Heat Network Transformation Programme.
  • Announce Great British Nuclear, responsible for driving delivery of new nuclear projects, being led by Simon Bowen as Chair and Gwen Parry-Jones OBE as Chief Executive Officer. 24GW of nuclear capacity by 2050 is the target, with the launch of a competitive process to select the best Small Modular Reactor technologies being the first priority.
  • Reforming the planning process to allow for the deployment of a greater level of renewables, including solar and wind power, more quickly.
  • Improving energy efficiency. The new ‘Great British Insulation Scheme’ will look to support the upgrading of around 300,000 of the country’s least energy efficient homes by March 2026, helping to save an estimated £300-£400 each year as part of a £1 billion energy efficiency programme, and reduce energy demand by 15% by 2030.
  • Decarbonising Transport. Investing more than £380 million into boosting EV charging points and infrastructure across the country to support the rollout of electric vehicles. 
  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels to heat our buildings. As part of its’ ambition to phase out all new gas boilers by 2035 (2026 for off-grid properties), the Government will look for homes to be heated by electricity rather than gas. A new £30 million Heat Pump Investment Accelerator has also been announced, designed to leverage £270 million of private investment to boost manufacturing and supply of heat pumps in the UK. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which offers a £5,000 grant to anyone buying a heat pump, will be extended to 2028.

Industry reaction to the plans has been mixed, with many groups stating that they need to be far more extensive if the country is to achieve its’ energy and environmental objectives. 

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) said:

“Despite positive moves that will get vital renewable technologies delivered, we still need stronger ambitions to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in our sector. The UK is now in an international race for investment and needs to keep pace, as well as urgently delivering on Net Zero ambitions.

“Highlighted by the recent CCC and IPCC reports, it could not be clearer that we need to move faster, and today’s announcements leave significant gaps in vital policy that will provide a route to market for the speedy decarbonisation of power, heat and transport, while moving to a circular economy and addressing the joint climate and energy crises. A full range of renewable and clean energy technologies are needed to decarbonise our energy systems, many of which continue to be missing from today’s plans.

“Whilst making this clear, we do recognise that a number of ambitious measures have been released today which highlight that Government are finally committing to several programmes long awaited by industry. The REA look forward to working with government to see delivery of today’s announcements and to address the substantial policy gaps that remain.”

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said:

“Today’s announcements should have been a defining moment for the UK – a chance to encourage the necessary investment to deploy the renewable energy projects required to safeguard our energy security, cut bills for consumers and meet our net-zero targets. It is unacceptable that they have fallen so far short.

“Nothing announced today comes close to repairing the damage caused by recent policy decisions from the UK Government which have discouraged that investment in clean power projects at the very time the UK needs it most.

“While it is encouraging to see electricity network infrastructure being recognised as a key part of our energy transition, we will now have to wait until the summer to find out how the government intends to speed up the connection process and allow this industry to deliver for Britain.”

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK, said:

“Solar Energy UK strongly welcomes the taskforce, which is a clear indication from the Government that it wants the UK to take full advantage of solar energy’s vast economic potential. We look forward to working closely with ministers to lay the path towards a five-fold increase in solar capacity in the UK by 2035 and addressing the key barriers to unlock the full potential of all scales of solar and energy storage.”

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE)’s Director of Policy and Research, Caroline Bragg, said:

“The Great British Insulation Scheme marks an important step forward, but to be truly great, the ADE would have liked to have seen new money committed – the £1 billion it includes has already been pledged. Despite this, the scheme will play a critical role in driving much-needed energy efficiency investment up until March 2026, and is a long overdue step towards reducing bills, delivering net zero and boosting energy security. It will support around 300,000 of the UK’s least energy-efficient homes, saving each household as much as £400 each year.”

“The Government’s commitment to improving owner-occupied homes, privately rented homes and through lenders, as well as reducing demand from large businesses and greening industrial processes through the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), demonstrates progress, but much more action on energy efficiency is urgently needed. While today’s announcements mark a clear step in the right direction, keeping the UK’s homes warm, safe and comfortable will require bolder actions and more dedicated funding.”

RenewableUK’s Executive Director of Policy Ana Musat said:

“These announcements do not go far enough to attract the investment we need in the renewable energy sector – we need much bolder action to secure Britain’s clean energy future. Global competition for investment in renewable energy projects is fiercer than ever, and the UK risks falling behind and surrendering our global lead.

“The Government has highlighted some important steps forward in existing policies and schemes, but we need much more than a “business as usual” approach to kickstart investment on the level we need to boost energy security, cut consumer bills and reach net zero. Without that, we won’t land the UK-wide economic benefits of building up new clean energy supply chains, as they will go elsewhere where the investment environment is more conducive and attractive”.

Professor Marcelle McManus, Director of the Institute for Sustainability, University of Bath, said:

“On first glance this seems as if it’s going in the right direction, but it’s hard to tell without details. What I would say is that we need to invest in all aspects of renewable energy and removing fossil fuels from our economy. The investment in green hydrogen and CCUS is excellent news, but only if coupled with wider and stable investment in low and no carbon solutions in the wider energy area, as well as in the production of materials which are traditionally made from petrochemicals. What we don’t see here is mention it demand reduction and management – which is also critical to decarbonisation and true sustainability.”

Chris Huhne, Chairman of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) commented:

“At a time when other European governments are boosting biogas as a key part of their policy, this energy security strategy shows little grasp of the potential of the sector or what is needed to unlock it. At least biogas and biomethane are mentioned – an advance of last April’s energy security strategy – but words are cheap. We need action on planning, regulation, bankability, grid connections and more to give Britain home-grown green gas.

“Anaerobic digestion, which generates the biogas, is a mature, readily available technology that can be scaled up far more rapidly than nuclear and also supports the decarbonisation of carbon-intensive industries such as transport and agriculture. Our industry currently produces the equivalent of 42% of the power generated by the current nuclear infrastructure. It has the potential to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2030. There’s so much more that AD and biogas can bring to the table when it comes to Powering Up Britain.”

The ‘Powering Up Britain’ strategy document can be downloaded in full from the Government’s website.

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