8 April 2022
A broad range of generation methods are included, but critics are already questioning how effective it is.
Most specifically, it does little or nothing to address the most pressing energy concern for almost every business or organisation currently: the ongoing energy price crisis.
The Energy Security Strategy laid out some ambitious plans to overhaul the UK’s domestic energy generation, with a particular focus on eliminating our exposure to Russian gas supply disruption. This includes:
Nuclear – Up to eight new nuclear power stations was the headline proposal. By 2050, nuclear power could provide as much as 25% of expected demand, with smaller reactors forming part of that mix. However, the construction of a nuclear power facility is both a costly and lengthy process, and up to a decade before they are able to contribute to the UK’s energy requirements.
Wind and solar – The UK is the global leader in offshore wind and reform to planning laws that would speed up the process of approving new offshore farms looks to continue that trend.
Onshore wind has been something of a black sheep in the UK’s generation mix in recent years, but a new scheme that allows neighbouring communities to access guaranteed cheaper power from onshore turbines could increase the level of local support that it has struggled to secure in the past.
Rules on solar installations for homes and commercial businesses could be set for a review, with an eye to increasing capacity five-fold by 2035. A focus on onshore wind and solar would be the quickest route to delivering additional generation capacity.
Hydrogen – Production targets are set to be doubled to around 10GW by 2030, providing a low-carbon alternative fuel for British industry as well as transport and heating. However, as an emerging technology, scale-up could still present many challenges.
Oil and gas – The most contentious aspect of the Strategy for many, the UK will offer a new licensing round for North Sea drilling projects this summer to increase the UK’s domestic natural gas production. While not officially part of the Strategy, a new report on the impact of fracking has also been launched with a view to potentially reversing the moratorium that has been in place since 2019 over concerns that drilling had caused earth tremors.
While the Energy Security Strategy laid out broad strokes for a major shake-up of our energy generation mix in the lead up to 2050, it lacks detail on how the Government plans to support homeowners and businesses alike through the current energy price crisis. Few, if any, of the measures identified will come on a time-scale short enough to make any material impact on the current crisis.
Energy efficiency – Identified by many campaigners as the area with the best potential for short-term impact, energy efficiency improvements, particularly for housing, were left out of the Strategy after the Treasury is reported to have turned them down over cost concerns.
Sustainability – The lack of energy efficiency measures, an increase in fossil fuel activity and an apparent watering down of onshore wind expansion plans due to opposition within the Conservative grassroots leaves Britain’s progress towards decarbonising our energy mix still looking precarious,
Balancing – While the rollout of new wind and solar is to be applauded, simply doing so without careful attention to balancing mechanisms, whether that is large-scale storage, Demand Side Response or similar, could cause more issues further down the line.
The inflexible and distributed nature of solar and wind generation is already constraining distribution networks and leaving us reliant on gas baseload generation during periods of nighttime calm weather.
For businesses that may have been hoping for more concrete indications of support following the Spring Statement, the Strategy provides a disappointing lack of short-term clarity. None of the measures announced will resolve the current energy crisis we are experiencing, and it is increasingly down to individual organisations to find solutions for themselves.
Balancing cost-effective energy with an ongoing need for a secure supply and continuing decarbonisation is challenging, but there is support available that can help you in improving all three aspects of your energy strategy.