The government’s recent Energy Security Strategy sets out a major acceleration of homegrown power to boost energy independence, but experts say energy efficiency in buildings must be prioritised.

The Strategy, released in response to the worsening energy price crisis and concerns around the international reliance on Russia for fossil fuels, aims to boost the UK’s ability to meet its own energy demand cleanly and affordably.

The overarching goal is to accelerate the deployment of homegrown wind, nuclear, solar and hydrogen energy capacity, which could see 95 per cent of all electricity be low carbon by 2030. More controversially, there is also some additional support for the production of domestic oil and gas in the near-term.

The strategy in numbers

Highlights from the strategy include:

  • A new target to create 50GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 (up from 10GW currently, and 10GW more than previously planned by the same date), enough to power every home in the UK
  • New plans to deliver 24GW of nuclear power by 2050 (up from 7GW currently), which would provide around a quarter of UK electricity demand
  • A commitment to consult on planning rules for solar projects, particularly on rooftops, to help increase the 14GW of current solar capacity by up to five times by 2035 (business rates exemptions for solar panels were also introduced in the 2022 Spring Statement)
  • A commitment to consult on new opportunities for a “limited number” of new onshore wind projects
  • A new target to create 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 (double the previous target), with at least half coming from ‘green hydrogen’ utilising excess offshore wind power
  • Part of National Grid will be re-nationalised and a ‘Future System Operator’ will be established to oversee the UK energy grid as it transitions to a more flexible, responsive system
  • A new ‘Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition’ worth up to £30 million to boost the production of heat pumps in Britain.

It is hoped the new plans will increase the number of green 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 previous expectations)
  • 12,000 jobs in the hydrogen industry by 2030 (3,000 more than previously expected).

Renewables ‘the best way to protect British people’

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.”

Energy efficiency ‘the best way to reduce bills’

However, the strategy has been criticised heavily for its lack of focus on energy efficiency. Experts have pointed out that the rollout of additional homegrown energy supply such as new nuclear power will take many years to deliver, whereas reducing energy consumption can make an immediate difference to energy independence, bills and carbon emissions.

Simon Virley, vice chair and head of energy and natural resources at KPMG, said: “The best way to reduce energy bills permanently, cut emissions, and reduce our dependence on imported gas is a step change in energy efficiency. Other European countries, like Holland, France and Germany, are doing this as a matter of urgency as part of their response to the Russia/Ukraine crisis.”

According to digital energy services company eEnergy, UK businesses could be losing around £34 billion annually through wasted energy, with an estimated 30 per cent of energy being wasted from commercial buildings.

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