The government has announced that cleaner and more affordable energy will be generated in Britain under new plans to boost long-term energy independence, security and prosperity.
The new British Energy Security Strategy, announced today (7 April 2022), sets out how Britain will accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen, whilst supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term – which could see 95% of electricity by 2030 being low carbon.
The strategy also signals a significant acceleration of nuclear, with an ambition of up to 24GW by 2050, representing up to around 25% of projected electricity demand. Subject to technology readiness from industry, small modular reactors as set to form a key part of the nuclear project pipeline.
A new government body, Great British Nuclear, will be set up immediately to bring forward new projects, backed by substantial funding and the government will launch the £120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund this month. A series of projects will be set in train as soon as possible this decade, including the Wylfa site in Anglesey. This could mean delivering up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade, delivering a significant acceleration in nuclear in Britain.
The government’s plans also include: -
Offshore wind: A new ambition of up to 50GW by 2030 – more than enough to power every home in the UK, of which the government wants to see up to 5GW from floating offshore wind in deeper seas. This will be underpinned by new planning reforms to cut the approval times for new offshore wind farms from four years to a year and an overall streamlining which will radically reduce the time it takes for new projects to reach construction stages while improving the environment.
Oil and gas: A licensing round for new North Sea oil and gas projects planned to launch in the autumn, with a new taskforce providing bespoke support to new developments. The plans recognise the importance of these fuels to energy transition and energy security and that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than imported from abroad.
Onshore wind: The government will be consulting on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills.
Heat pump manufacturing: A Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition will be run in 2022 worth up to £30m to make British heat pumps, which reduce demand for gas.
Pictured above is the proposed new Wylfa nuclear site in Anglesey.
The government also says that it will look to increase the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity which could grow fivefold by 2035, consulting on the rules for solar projects, particularly on domestic and commercial rooftops.
In addition, the government also aims to double its ambition to up to 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, with at least half coming from green hydrogen and utilising excess offshore wind power to bring down costs.
Commenting on the British Energy Security Strategy, prime minister, Boris Johnson, said: “We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain – from new nuclear to offshore wind – in the decade ahead. This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.”
The widely anticipated plan is released against a backdrop of rising global energy prices, provoked by surging demand after the pandemic as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government sees the strategy as central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels, which are subject to volatile gas prices set by international markets and a key part of boosting Britain’s diverse sources of homegrown energy for greater energy security in the long-term.
The government claims that the British Energy Security Strategy will also increase the number of clean jobs in the UK by supporting 90,000 jobs in offshore wind by 2028, 10,000 jobs in solar power by 2028 and 12,000 jobs in the UK hydrogen industry by 2030.
Business and energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “We have seen record high gas prices around the world. We need to protect ourselves from price spikes in the future by accelerating our move towards cleaner, cheaper, home-grown energy. The simple truth is that the more cheap, clean power we generate within our borders, the less exposed we will be to eye watering fossil fuel prices set by global markets we can’t control.
“Scaling up cheap renewables and new nuclear, while maximising North Sea production, is the best and only way to ensure our energy independence over the coming years.”