The construction and infrastructure sector has a major role to play in engineering net zero and ensuring a viable plan is created to deliver secure and clean energy supplies to power the UK’s net zero economy, says Chris Ball of Atkins.
Strengthening security of supply means creating a resilient energy system, fuelled by a mix of low carbon technologies and renewable sources without dependence on any one fuel or region. The Energy Security Strategy, just unveiled by the UK government, will go some way towards achieving this in the medium to long term.
Accelerating momentum for UK nuclear and bringing forward reforms to fast-track offshore wind development are cornerstones of a plan to meet net zero targets and bolster our energy resilience. Boosting hydrogen production will help to swiftly establish the scale of its role as a low carbon fuel for industry and energy supply as well as its potential for storage to help balance the intermittency of renewables.
The UK’s energy targets are increasingly ambitious and deadlines for delivery are brought ever nearer, yet a credible plan is equally pressing to ensure the build rate of infrastructure matches the pace required to achieve these goals. The urgency of this plan, underpinned by sustained policy, cannot be understated.
We must also ensure that the transition is delivered in the most cost-effective way to ensure affordability is prioritised as much as sustainability and security of supply. This will partly be achieved by the coordination of a holistic plan, as recognised in the announcement of a ‘future system operator’ to oversee the transformation of the UK’s energy system. Efficiencies can also be found in a fleet approach to new nuclear, ensuring supply chains deliver both large and small nuclear plants in the most cost-effective way. The creation of a new government body for nuclear could help to coordinate the roll-out of new projects to ensure this.
Our sector has a major role to play in engineering net zero and ensuring a viable plan is created to deliver secure and clean energy supplies that will power the UK’s net zero economy. We look forward to working with government and across the industry to ensure these ambitions translate into a successful and efficient energy system.
Chris Ball is managing director, nuclear and power EMEA at Atkins.