“Green Day” — Powering Up Britain — the Government’s Energy Security Plan
The day we have all been waiting for! Energy expert Nick Fothergill provides some further commentary on the awaited measures and what they include.
Today saw the unveiling of the UK Government’s “Green Day” measures, a series of plans intended to increase the UK’s energy security, produce cleaner and more affordable power, and grow the green economy with the aim of supporting half a million new green jobs by 2030.
The announcements have been keenly awaited, and stem in part from a High Court ruling in July 2022 requiring the Government to publish by the end of March 2023 more detail on how it will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Green Day was also anticipated by some as being the Government’s opportunity to respond to the US Government’s courting of green investment through the subsidies offered by its Inflation Reduction Act, and the European Union’s indication that it will also look to support green investment.
Measures announced today include:
- Carbon Capture Usage and Storage — the first projects are to be announced to move to the next stage of negotiations to roll out the first Carbon Capture clusters in the UK, and the round for areas to apply for two additional future clusters has been launched;
- Floating Offshore Wind — the launch of the £160 million fund to support port infrastructure projects, to assist the UK’s floating offshore wind industry;
- Green Hydrogen — backing the first tranche of new green hydrogen production projects under the £240 million Net Zero Hydrogen Fund;
- Contracts for Difference (CfD) — opening the fifth round of the UK’s CfD renewable energy incentivisation scheme;
- Nuclear — the appointment of Simon Bowen as interim Chair and Gwen Parry-Jones as interim Chief Executive Officer of Great British Nuclear (GBN), with GBN’s first job to launch a new competition to select the best Small Modular Reactor technologies for development by Autumn 2023;
- Planning — speeding up the planning process to enable the building of more energy infrastructure, including solar and offshore wind projects;
- Energy Efficiency — rebranding ECO+ as the “Great British Insulation Scheme”, to focus on upgrading 300,000 of the country’s least energy efficient homes;
- EV Charging — investing more than £380 million into boosting EV charging points and infrastructure;
- Heat Pumps — a new £30 million Heat Pump Investment Accelerator, to leverage £270 million of private investment to boost manufacturing and supply of heat pumps in the UK; and
- Boiler Upgrade Scheme — to be extended to 2028, offering a £5,000 grant to anyone buying a heat pump.
As part of today’s plan, the Government is also publishing its formal response to Chris Skidmore MP’s Net Zero Review, confirming that it is partly or fully acting upon 23 of the 25 recommendations for 2025 contained in the Review’s report.
Reactions to the Government’s “Green Day” announcements have been mixed. The CBI responded that “The package of measures announced by the Government represents a gear shift to boost energy security, reduce household bills and re-establish the UK’s credentials as a leader in green technologies”.
RenewableUK commented that “These announcements do not go far enough to attract the investment we need in the renewable energy sector – we need much bolder action to secure Britain’s clean energy future”.
While welcoming the Government’s ambition to scale up green energy production and scale up green industries, the Institute of Directors noted that “Despite the volume and detail of today’s announcements, there is nothing obvious within these plans which matches the ambition of the US’s Inflation Reduction Act. It remains an open question as to whether the UK can offer the incentives for green investment that can sustain it as a leader in the global green economy”.
It has also been noted by others that more would have been welcome on tackling delays to getting grid connections, an issue which is high on the agenda of those seeking to develop renewables projects in the UK.
Overall, there is much to be welcomed in the Powering UP Britain announcements, particularly around Carbon Capture Usage and Storage and around Green Hydrogen. Focus will now once again turn to the detail of how today’s announcements are implemented, and the measurement of progress towards their achievement.
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