The UK government on 5 April announced plans under the heading ‘British Energy Security Strategy’ to accelerate the country’s energy independence by promoting the generation of ‘cleaner and more affordable energy’ within the UK.
The new plan is intended to make ‘bold new commitments’ to supercharge clean energy and accelerate deployment, which could see 95% of Great Britain’s electricity set to be low carbon by 2030.
The strategy sets out how the UK will accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen, whilst supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term, and a significant acceleration of nuclear power, with an ambition of up to 24 GW by 2050 to come from this source. Subject to technological readiness from industry, small modular reactors (SMRs) will 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 a £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund will be launched during April. A series of projects, including Wylfa site in Wales, will be progressed as soon as possible this decade. This could mean delivering up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade, accelerating nuclear in Britain.
Other plans include:
- Offshore wind: a new ambition of up to 50 GW by 2030, including 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 4 years to 1 year.
- 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 tailored support to new developments – recognising that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than imported from abroad.
- Onshore wind: developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills.
- Increasing the UK’s current 14 GW of solar capacity which could grow up to 5 times by 2035, and reviewing the rules for solar projects, particularly on domestic and commercial rooftops.
- Doubling the present ambition to up to 10 GW 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.
Prime minister Boris Johnson commented: “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 new strategy is expected to reduce consumer bills, which will be lower this decade than they otherwise would be, and will also increase the number of ‘clean energy’ jobs in the UK.
In total, the British Energy Security Strategy builds on the prime minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, and, together with the Net Zero Strategy, is said to be driving an unprecedented £100 billion of private sector investment into new British industries, including offshore wind.
Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, commented: “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.”