UK Energy Security Strategy goes nuclear, aiming for 95% low-carbon electricity by 2030

Thu 7 Apr 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

nuclear energy

The government’s long-awaited energy security strategy places the focus on nuclear energy, with the ambition of supplying 25% of Britain’s electricity using it by the middle of the century.

It is hoped that offshore wind power will increase fivefold by the end of the decade, raising the existing target by 10GW to 50GW.

There is no boost for onshore wind farms, however, which have proved politically divisive for Boris Johnson’s government, according to the FT.

Green trade

The strategy builds on the PM’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and the Net Zero Strategy which is driving £100bn of private sector investment into new British industries including offshore wind and supporting 480,000 new clean jobs by the end of the decade.

They also follow comments from international trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan saying that the UK needed to “grow our economy” to reduce reliance on Russian oil and as “once and for all”.

The Department for International Trade’s Board of Trade published a ‘Green Trade’ report last year calling on the UK to bring together trade and environmental agendas to become a global leader on decarbonisation.

Low carbon

The government’s British Energy Security Strategy sets out how Britain will accelerate the deployment of wind, nuclear, solar and hydrogen. They could mean 95% of the UK’s electricity comes from low-carbon sources by 2030.

It also includes a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas projects and an “impartial” review of whether fracking is safe.

“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,” Johnson said.

Nuclear acceleration

A “significant acceleration” of nuclear aims to get generation of up to 24GW by 2050. Subject to technology readiness, 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 a £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund this month.

The Guardian reports the government plans also include:

  • Offshore wind target raised from 40GW to 50GW (from 11GW today)
  • Solar could grow five times from 14GW to 70GW by 2035
  • Up to 10GW of hydrogen power by 2030
  • A £30m competition to make British heat pumps which reduce demand for gas.

Clean jobs

According to the government, the energy strategy will also increase the number of clean jobs in the UK by supporting:

  • 90,000 jobs in offshore wind by 2028
  • 10,000 jobs in solar power by 2028
  • 12,000 jobs in the UK hydrogen industry by 2030

Critics

The FT reports that experts have warned the energy security strategy is a “missed opportunity” and will fail to reduce the UK’s reliance on expensive imports this decade and do little to alleviate the pressure on households

Simon Virley, head of energy and natural resources at advisory firm 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.”

Politico reports the Institute of Economic Affairs’ statement saying that, “The Energy Security Strategy is a wasted opportunity to put energy policy into a fundamental review. It will mean higher bills, greater fuel poverty, and further offshoring of energy-intensive industries” 

Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, admitted that the proposals represented “more of a medium” term solution that would not yield results for at least three to five years.