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Net Zero Strategy published by UK Government

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The UK Government has published its’ Net Zero Strategy, outlining how the country will dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to reach net zero by 2050.

The strategy, coming days before the COP26 conference in Glasgow, highlights how spending will be prioritised to create new jobs and develop new industries with innovative new technologies, while boosting the UK’s energy security and reducing emissions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said 

“This strategy sets out how we will make historic transitions to remove carbon from our power, retire the internal combustion engine from our vehicles and start to phase out gas boilers from our homes.

“But it also shows how we will do this fairly by making carbon free alternatives cheaper. We will make sure what you pay for green, clean electricity is competitive with carbon-laden gas, and with most of our electricity coming from the wind farms of the North Sea or state-of-the-art British nuclear reactors we will reduce our vulnerability to sudden price rises caused by fluctuating international fossil fuel markets.”

The policies and spending brought forward in the plan mean that since Mr Johnson’s ten point plan announcement last year, the Government has introduced more than £26 billion of capital investment in pursuit of our net zero ambitions. This will reportedly support 440,000 jobs and leverage up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030.

Key aspects of the Government’s net zero strategy include:

  • £620m in grants being made available for electric vehicles and charging points. Vehicle manufacturers will need to sell a minimum number of clean vehicles each year, with a further £350m being invested to support the supply chain in its’ move to electric.
  • £120m being allocated to develop small “modular” nuclear reactors
  • The utilisation of hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) solutions to decarbonise industrial clusters, with £14bn of private investment being spent on four clusters in the North West of England and North Wales.
  • £140m being made available, through the new Industrial Decarbonisation and Hydrogen Revenue Support (IDHRS) scheme, to further hydrogen production, including £100m for contracts of up to 250MW of electrolytic hydrogen production capacity in 2023.
  • £124m added to the £640m Nature for Climate Fund, to support farmers and landowners with the planting of 30,000 hectares of new trees by 2024, as well as peat restoration.
  • £3.9bn of new funding to be made available for the decarbonisation of homes and other buildings, as announced in the recently unveiled in the Government’s Heat and Building Strategy, including £5,000 grants for homeowners willing to swop their gas boilers for heat pumps.
  • A reiteration of the Prime Minister’s pledge for all of the UK’s electricity to come from clean energy sources by 2035, with between £150 – £270bn of public and private investment being mobilised to achieve this goal.
  • A commitment to review the frequency of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions, with a view to accelerating the deployment of renewable energy systems, such as wind and solar. 
  • An extra £500m for ‘projects to develop the green technologies of the future’
  • The introduction of a four-year policy framework to drive the market-wide rollout of smart meters
  • A new biomass strategy to encourage miscanthus and short-rotation coppice, to be launched next year

The strategy and its ambitions have been welcomed, however some industry figures have expressed concern by a perceived lack of detail and support necessary to deliver on said ambitions.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Climate Change Committee said:

“We didn’t have a plan before, now we do. This is a substantial step forward that lays out clearly the government’s ambitions to cut emissions across the economy over the coming 15 years and beyond.

It provides much more clarity about what lies ahead for businesses and individuals and the key actions required in the coming decades to deliver a Net Zero nation. It also gives the UK a strong basis to be president of the forthcoming COP26 summit. The critical next step is turning words into deeds. We have begun to assess the strategy in more detail and the extent to which the policies proposed in this strategy deliver their ambition.”

Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said:

“This Strategy does not move us much further forward from last year when the Energy White Paper and Ten Point Plan were published. Then, we welcomed the ambitions laid out, but said there now needed to be real detailed and wide ranging support in order to meet them.

“While I welcome and support the ambitions laid out in the Strategy, I am increasingly concerned by the lack of meaningful progress on a whole range of issues.

“We need to see clear routes to market; a holistic Circular Economy approach; support for a range of clean tech and renewable technologies; best practice standards; tax reform to unlock investment, such as the removal of VAT on renewables and clean tech; and we need more flexibility and investment in the energy system and grid networks.

“There is still time for the Government to make a substantive move on Net Zero. The upcoming Spending Review is a chance to deliver the investment needed to make the energy transition a reality.”

Mark Bridgeman, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said:

“To plant 30,000 hectares of new trees per year by 2024 across the UK means more than doubling current rates of planting.”

“The ambition is good, but the delivery will be extremely challenging, particularly in England where competition for land use is stronger than ever.

“Landowners across the country are willing and able to help government meet its tree planting targets, but they can only do so with the right support.”

Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said:

“We welcome the announcement today from the UK Government of its Net-Zero Strategy as a key step towards meeting our climate change targets of net-zero by 2045 in Scotland, and 2050 for the rest of the UK.

“The commitment to accelerate the deployment of low-cost renewable generation, such as wind and solar through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme by undertaking a review of the frequency of the CfD auctions is crucial to ensuring all our electricity comes from low-carbon sources by 2035. Wind and solar are already the cheapest source of electricity and annual CfD auctions will enable industry to bring forward the volume of renewables net-zero requires at the lowest cost to consumers.”

The renewables industry has made huge strides forward in driving down the cost of renewables over the last decade. The commitments to drive down the cost of low-carbon heat and hydrogen plus removing the cost of decarbonisation from electricity bills will further support industry’s cost reduction efforts.”

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said:

“The Prime Minister has made it clear that customer choice is a central component of the Net Zero Strategy. The variety of technologies being developed and deployed for heat, transport, buildings and industry provides this exact choice.

“With regulation to support strategic, early investment, our energy networks will unlock Net Zero by connecting these technologies and making sure the right infrastructure is in the right place at the right time.”

The Net Zero Strategy can be read in full here.

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