UK Energy Strategy Aims to ‘Power Up Britain’

The UK Government has announced its Energy Strategy ‘Powering up Britain’.

Energy is a power reserved to the UK Government with some limited devolution of powers to Scotland over things like planning applications for windfarms etc.

It is, therefore, in the hands of the UK Government how Energy is developed over the coming decades.

This comes at a time when householders are facing new rises in their home energy bills and businesses are also struggling to cope with the added costs.

Grant Shapps is Energy Security Secretary in the UK Government. Commenting on the new strategy he said:

“We have seen over the past year what can happen when global energy supplies are disrupted, and a tyrant like Putin uses energy as a weapon.

“Access to cheap, abundant and reliable energy provide the foundation stone of a thriving economy with our homes and businesses relying on it to deliver our future prosperity.

“Following our unprecedented cost of living support this Winter, which continues, this plan now sets out how we fix this problem in the long term to deliver wholesale UK electricity prices that rank amongst the cheapest in Europe, as we export our green growth expertise to the world.”

As an net exporter of energy what is in this for Orkney and Scotland?

Here is what the UK Government will be focussing on to develop:

Carbon Capture: Building on the £20 billion CCUS funding package announced in the UK Spring Budget, there will be a roll out of Carbon Capture clusters and more to be added to those.

Great British Nuclear: New nuclear projects with the aim that up to 25% of the UK’s electricity could be from nuclear sources by 2050.

Hydrogen: Increase in funding for hydrogen projects “The government’s ambition is for the UK to be generating enough to power all of London for a year by 2030.”

Renewables:  Supporting new renewable energy projects across Britain alongside private investment with an initial budget of £205 million. A Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Scheme – up to £160 million to kick start the investment in port infrastructure projects and a new taskforce will be established to support more solar power coming onto the grid.

The UK Government also plans to look into energy efficiency schemes for homes and businesses. There will also be a speeding up of the planning process.

front cover of the Powering up Britain report with an oil rig in the foreground and in the background a massive offshore windfarm

Click on this link to access: Powering up Britain

Reaction to ‘Powering up Britain.’

The strategy from the UK Government has been welcomed by Professor John Underhill, The University of Aberdeen’s Director for Energy Transition.

He said:

“The package of measures in wind and nuclear energy, hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) that have been announced will collectively help accelerate the Energy Transition by providing green energy, reduce our industrial emissions, and help the UK meet its net zero targets.

“The measures will continue the build out of our renewable energy capability as we seek to reduce our reliance on oil and gas, which provides three-quarters of our current energy needs.”

Campaigning group, Friends of the Earth Scotland have described the strategy as ‘greenwashing’. The environmentalists are particularly concerned about new exploration of fossil fuels such as the  Rosebank oil field west of Shetland and the granting of over 100 new exploration licences. They are also warning about the use of public money to back carbon capture including the Scottish cluster and the Scottish Government backed Acorn project.

FoE Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“With this package the UK Government is trying to greenwash its woeful lack of climate ambition and ignoring the massive elephant in the room of its own oil and gas expansion plans.

“This Government cannot be taken seriously on climate whilst it looks set to approve the hugely polluting Rosebank oil field and deliver billions in public subsidies to make that controversial project happen. Fossil fuels are driving both climate breakdown and the cost of living crisis yet the UK Government looks set to slam its foot down on the accelerator.

“Failure from politicians to put an end date on oil and gas, and properly plan and support the transition to renewables is leaving workers totally adrift on the whims of fossil fuel companies, and the planet to burn. Workers and communities most affected must be at the heart of planning the transition to decent green renewable jobs.

“The UK Government is throwing public money at fossil fuel companies to try and prolong this climate-wrecking industry through the pipe dreams of carbon capture. These CCS projects risk yet more missed climate targets and turning the seas off Scotland into Europe’s carbon dumping ground.

“Politicians at both Westminster and Holyrood need to wake up and realise that carbon capture is a dangerous distraction from the urgent and necessary work of cutting climate emissions at source and delivering a just transition away from fossil fuels. The Scottish Government must chart a different course from Westminster, end its over-reliance on speculative negative emissions technologies, and focus on the real solutions that can cut carbon and improve people’s lives now. ”

Labour leader, Keir Starmer, was in Scotland to proclaim that his party’s energy plans would be a “revolution”, “made in Scotland”.

He said:

“The route to making Britain a clean energy superpower, slashing energy bills and creating tens of thousands of quality jobs runs through Scotland. 

“There should be no doubt – our energy plans will be made in Scotland – cutting energy bills for Scottish families, and delivering the jobs and investment in Scottish communities that for far too long have been let down by the SNP and Conservatives.

“When it comes to capitalising on Scotland’s energy resources, for fifteen years the SNP Government has chased the headlines but not done the work. Labour will deliver lower bills, good jobs, and energy security for Scotland, as Britain leads the world in the fight against climate change.”

Labour’s plans include establishing a public energy company, ‘Great British Energy’, including developing carbon capture and nuclear power.

The Scottish Government has a Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan. The consultation of the Plan has been extended to 9th May 2023. It is yet to be revealed how all the changes implemented in the new Scottish Government by its First Minister, Humza Yousaf, will play out in future policy actions in Scotland. The newly appointed Scottish Minister for Energy is Gillian Martin.

a wind turbine in the Orkney landscape with a flowering gorse bush in the foreground
Image credit Martin Laird

Fiona Grahame

Categories: Uncategorized

Tagged as: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply