The UK Government published its Energy Security Strategy in response to the rapid increase in energy prices and the effects of the War in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia in energy markets. The Strategy has been controversial particularly with its emphasis on nuclear power with plans to build up to 8 new nuclear reactors in addition to the one now being constructed. Critics point out that the energy crisis needs action now, that the Government still has to build one nuclear power station after being in office for twelve years and that adding more nuclear power is a long term option.
There is also widespread criticism of the UK Government’s commitment to increase oil and gas exploration in the North Sea with another licensing round in Autumn 2022. The Introduction to the Strategy states:
“Even as we reduce imports, we will continue to need gas to heat our homes and oil to fill up our tanks for many years to come – so the cleanest and most secure way to do this is to source more of it domestically with a second lease of life for our North Sea. Net zero is a smooth transition, not an immediate extinction, for oil and gas.”
Many observers would take issue with this point especially with the IPCC Report on Monday stating that we need to take urgent action to avoid severe climate change. In addition, critics have argued that the UK Government is not doing enough to encourage energy efficiency in a national housing stock that needs urgent improvement.
On a more positive note, there are ambitious targets for renewables by 2030 and the target for hydrogen production by 2030 has been increased from 5 GW to 10 GW. The 5 GW target was looking rather odd with the Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Action Plan target of 5GW in Scotland alone but with the extra wind and solar renewable targets increasing, the hydrogen target could be increased.
Never to be short of a superlative or two, the UK Prime Minister mentions hydrogen in the Foreword to the Strategy. He states that “We’re going to produce vastly more hydrogen, which is easy to store, ready to go whenever we need it, and is a low carbon superfuel of the future.”
The Strategy brings us down to earth with following actions which include a number of caveats such as affordability and value for money:
It will be interesting to see how the UK Government will work with the European Union and other countries on issues such as certification and standardisation.
The UK Government is being very ambitious in terms of offshore wind and states that “with smarter planning we can maintain high environmental standards while increasing the pace of deployment by 25%. Our ambition is to deliver up to 50GW by 2030, including up to 5GW of innovative floating wind.” There are ambitious targets for other renewables such as solar which should promote the production of green hydrogen.
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