On the 6th of April 2022 the government published its Energy Security Strategy, which many had hoped would contain policies to address a mounting number of concerns. As would be expected it delivered for some, but others felt there were missed opportunities and could have gone further.
The policies recognise that we need to move away from using fossil fuels, whilst also ensuring a diversity of supplies. Although renewables have the potential to provide large amounts of our energy requirements, the fact that they are an erratic source does mean we still need other, more traditional generation. The strategy highlights the possibility that 95% of our Electricity could be met through low carbon sources by 2030.
How and when we use energy will change, as we start to electrify where we have been using fossil fuels. Obvious examples being replacing Gas heating and Diesel cars with electric alternatives. The difficulty is knowing how these changes will impact on the amount of Electricity that will be needed and planning for a system that is flexible enough to cope with the new peak demands.
More recently the extent of our exposure to the global energy market has been demonstrated with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The threat that Gas supplies could be withheld and used as a political weapon has been a concern for some time, voiced by the US. As this has become a reality, one of the main goals of the strategy is more relevant, that being to have security of supply.
Help with offshore Wind projects is a standout point, with reforms to reduce planning permission barriers and time. The target is for up to 50GW of offshore Wind farms by 2030. The lack of any real change in policy for onshore Wind has been criticised, with just a mention of partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities, who would benefit from cheaper bills.
Nuclear energy gets a renewed focus with the immediate start of, Great British Nuclear, whose role will be to bring forward new projects. This may include eight new reactors being signed off by 2030 and generating an estimated 25% of our demand by 2050. Small Modular Reactors (SMR) could be utilised, subject to the technology being ready and practical. Although not “Green,” Nuclear is seen by many as necessary to support less reliable sources.
Consideration will be given to rule changes to allow an increase in rooftop Solar installations, the ambition being a fivefold increase by 2035.
It includes a £30 million competition for British Heat Pumps and a target to increase Hydrogen production to 10GW by 2030 to support industry, transport, power and heating. This could partially be produced using excess Wind generation.
The final point is the continued commitment to the North Sea Gas and Oil industry, through a new licensing round. The government must recognise that there will be a need for these fuels for some time and would rather source them ourselves and have security of supply, with a smaller carbon footprint than if we imported.
Possibly the biggest talking point is that the strategy contains a vision as to how we will look to meet our future energy demands but does not add any new measures to improve efficiency, to reduce how much energy we use. Controlling use is seen by many as a more obvious, cost effective and environmentally friendly route to take, in conjunction with the plans that have been outlined.
It was also expected that the opportunity would be taken to assist consumers with the high cost of energy, beyond those already announced. With a further increase to the price cap due in October and no sign that wholesale prices will be falling to “normal” levels soon, it would seem likely that there will be some intervention.
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