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Government launches British energy security strategy

07 April 2022

Cleaner and more affordable energy to be made in Great Britain under bold plans to boost long-term energy independence, security and prosperity.

The government’s British Energy Security Strategy sets out how Great 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 will see a significant acceleration of nuclear, with an ambition of up to 24GW by 2050 to come from this safe, clean, and reliable source of power. This would represent up to around 25% of our projected electricity demand. Subject to technology readiness from industry, Small Modular Reactors 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 we will launch the £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund this month. We will work to progress a series of projects as soon as possible this decade, including Wylfa site in Anglesey. This could mean delivering up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade, accelerating nuclear in Britain.

The ambitious 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 we would like 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 4 years to 1 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 Autumn, with a new taskforce providing bespoke support to new developments – recognising the importance of these fuels to the transition and to our energy security, and that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than imported from abroad.
Onshore wind: We 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: We will run a Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition in 2022 worth up to £30 million to make British heat pumps, which reduce demand for gas.
We will also look to increase the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity which could grow up to 5 times by 2035, consulting on the rules for solar projects, particularly on domestic and commercial rooftops.

We will aim to double our 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. This will not only provide cleaner energy for vital British industries to move away from expensive fossil fuels, but could also be used for cleaner power, transport and potentially heat.

The 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.

This plan comes in light of rising global energy prices, provoked by surging demand after the pandemic as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This will be central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels, which are subject to volatile gas prices set by international markets we are unable to control, and boosting our diverse sources of homegrown energy for greater energy security in the long-term.

Consumer bills will be lower this decade than they otherwise would be as a result of the measures this government has taken.

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 – 30,000 more than previously expected; 10,000 jobs in solar power by 2028 – almost double our previous expectations; and 12,000 jobs in the UK hydrogen industry by 2030 – 3,000 more than previously expected.

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 driving an unprecedented £100 billion of private sector investment into new British industries including Offshore Wind and supporting 480,000 new clean jobs by the end of the decade.

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.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said:

Boosting our renewable energy supply is the only way for us to take control of energy prices. We are already a world leader in offshore wind, but we want to go further and faster so that clean, cheap energy becomes the norm.

Although we don’t rely on Russian energy, accelerating our transition to renewable energy is the best thing we can do to protect the British people and to drive economic growth.

The strategy follows a series of engagement by the Prime Minister and ministers across government with key industry leaders, including from the oil and gas, wind and nuclear sectors. The government continue to work with industry in the coming weeks to drive forward these commitments as fast as industry can deliver.

Industry support
Sam Laidlaw, Executive Chairman of Neptune Energy, said:

The Energy Security Strategy breathes new life into the North Sea, giving investors confidence to allocate significant capital to the diverse range of energy supply we will need through the energy transition. UK energy projects are national priorities – and the country cannot wait.

Neptune Energy will invest to support these priorities. Immediately, we are increasing production from our Duva field in Norway – enough gas to heat an additional 350,000 homes in this country. In the mid-term, we will bring on further supply from our Seagull field in the UK North Sea, starting early next year. And longer-term, with our partners, we’ve agreed to invest $100 million in drilling an appraisal well at the Isabella discovery in UK waters.

Returns from those and other developments can be recycled into new energy projects to help create a net zero future. Repurposing of existing North Sea infrastructure will pave the way for low carbon energy hubs, CCS and hydrogen – maintaining diversity and security of supply for decades to come.

RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail said:

The renewables industry is ready and able to work with government to deliver the ambitions set out in the new Energy Security Strategy. Renewables can deliver new, low-cost power quicker than any other option and wind will be at the heart of a secure, affordable net zero energy system.

Scaling up our ambitions for renewables, and increasing speed of delivery, will help us cut bills and be more energy independent. The sector is investing tens of billions of pounds in cheap wind power, as well as cutting-edge green hydrogen and floating wind technology, so that the UK can reduce our dependence on gas. Green investment is creating tens of thousands of jobs across the UK to support levelling up and reaching net zero faster.

Duncan Clark, Head of Region UK for Ørsted:

This is a truly momentous day for the offshore wind industry and for every consumer in the UK. Twenty years ago there were only two wind turbines in UK waters, and now, as a nation, we are leading the world in offshore wind and making the changes we need to make offshore wind the backbone of the UK’ electricity system.

There is no doubt that the technology works, there is no doubt that it is low-cost, and now with the government and industry committing to make the changes needed to accelerate deployment, there is no doubt that we can deliver the secure, low-cost electricity that the UK needs.

Deirdre Michie OBE, Chief Executive of Offshore Energies UK, said:

We are pleased that the government’s strategy recognises the vital role of the UK’s offshore energies sector in supporting energy security and the transition to net zero. It will be crucial to ensuring our 2050 Paris Agreement climate commitment stays on course.

Through the North Sea Transition Deal, the first of its kind by any G7 nation, we have a blueprint for delivering security of energy supply through oil and gas, while accelerating crucial cleaner energies like offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture. We recognise that this is an important moment in the energy transition and this challenge requires everyone and every level of government across the UK to be involved if this plan is to succeed.

Clare Jackson, CEO of Hydrogen UK, said:

We are thrilled that the government has doubled down on hydrogen by increasing the production target to 10GW, recognising that hydrogen is a key part of the net zero transition. This new goal will allow industry to unleash investment, bring down costs and widen the use-case for hydrogen, exploring its potential in transport, heavy industry and to heat homes.

Chris O’Shea, CEO Centrica, said:

In recent months, we’ve seen the impact of global rising energy prices on UK households. The geopolitical landscape means it’s more crucial than ever that the UK has robust and secure supply chains for many things, including energy. The British Energy Security Strategy is something we can all get behind to protect the nation and help households today and over the long term. We welcome the government’s boost for renewables and nuclear and the focus on kick-starting the hydrogen economy.

This will help us reduce our dependency on foreign gas and, done properly, could help make us a net exporter of energy, boosting our economy and creating well paid, highly skilled jobs. We look forward to working closely with the government to do everything we can to bring this strategy to life.

Shell CEO, Ben van Beurden, said:

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure an orderly transition to net zero while bolstering the UK’s energy security and Shell is ready to play our part. We plan to invest up to £25 billion in the UK energy system over the next decade subject to Board approval, and more than 75% of this is for low and zero-carbon technology. Offshore wind, hydrogen and CCS will all be critical but we need the right policy frameworks in place. We look forward to working with government on the important detail in order to make this a reality.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive of UK-listed low-carbon infrastructure company SSE, said:

The current energy crisis is driven by our reliance on imported gas and it’s clear that the only way to tackle the underlying cause is to ramp up investment in home-grown, clean energy infrastructure; today’s package represents a significant step towards that goal.

We particularly welcome the increased ambition and commitment to accelerate delivery of offshore wind as the backbone of a cleaner, more secure energy system, but also critically the acknowledgement that accelerating investments into network infrastructure and flexible technologies like pumped storage, alongside a developing hydrogen economy, will be essential if we are to make that ambition a reality.

The intent from government today is clear; now it’s about delivering it. We’re already investing £12.5 billion in low-carbon infrastructure over the next 5 years and have announced today that we will be creating 5,000 new skilled, green jobs in the process. And with further policy development in the coming months, we can move from ambition on paper to shovels in the ground and jobs in local communities.

EDF’s UK CEO Simone Rossi said:

Britain is right to take control of its energy future, with a step change in ambition for electricity from wind, nuclear and solar, and greater energy efficiency.

Building more new nuclear will reduce Britain’s dependence on overseas gas and keep energy prices stable, creating thousands of jobs while we’re doing it. At Hinkley Point C we’re already building British nuclear, with 3600 British businesses and 22,000 people making it happen, including over 800 apprentices.

Emma Pinchbeck, Energy UK’s CEO said:

Industry has committed to delivering a net zero power system in the 2030s as the best way to provide secure and cheap power to the UK. We support the government’s recommendations in the Energy Security Strategy to accelerate the deployment of domestic clean power sources, build a modern energy system, and reduce demand for volatile international gas.

Anders Opedal, CEO Equinor, said:

Equinor welcomes the Prime Minister’s Energy Security Strategy. The strategy gives us confidence that the UK will continue to provide opportunities to invest in energy and we will be able to grow our businesses in the UK, from offshore wind, to hydrogen and CCUS, and oil and gas. These investments will not only support the UK’s energy transition to Net Zero, but will help provide energy security in the UK and across Europe.

Carl Ennis, CEO, Siemens GB & Ireland and Chairman, Net Zero North West:

The UK needs a mixed and dynamic energy policy to ensure secure and affordable energy and manage the transition to Net Zero. While the Strategy provides greater certainty about the UK’s major generating priorities which will help to unlock investment and innovation, there remains much to do to drive up energy efficiency and leverage the benefits of local energy systems.

Tom Samson, CEO of Rolls-Royce SMR, said:

The Rolls-Royce SMR remains the fastest route to market for new nuclear deployment in the UK and we welcome this government’s clear commitment to turbocharging nuclear deployment.

By providing an early commitment and working in series, Rolls-Royce SMRs will be able to contribute to the bold vision set out by the Prime Minister for energy security and decarbonisation.

Rolls-Royce SMRs offer an affordable, sustainable and secure low carbon future for the UK and an export opportunity to realise the aims of Global Britain if we act now.

John Pettigrew, CEO, National Grid said:

There’s no doubt that this is a crucial moment for the energy sector. A strategy with clean energy at its heart is critical. Net zero is achievable and affordable and is a clear route to long-term resilience. We must now collectively focus on delivery – we are ready to collaborate with government, the regulator and industry to ensure this strategy delivers a clean, fair and affordable energy transition.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said:

This Strategy sets an ambitious bar for a more resilient, low carbon energy system for the future. Bold words must now be matched by bold actions from the government. The proof will be in the Strategy’s delivery, in partnership between business and government. Business believes greater energy independence must go hand-in-hand with delivering a net-zero, higher growth economy.

Increasing our domestic generating capacity is an essential part of dealing with the current energy crisis. Big bets on nuclear will provide clean and stable power for consumers and businesses. This scale of ambition should be replicated for other renewable technologies like onshore wind. Commitment to planning reforms and rapid approvals is what will really make the difference now.

View the British Energy Security Strategy here

Government launches British energy security strategy