Updated: Energy security strategy backs nuclear, offshore wind and North Sea

UK electricity will be 95% low carbon by 2030, with a “major acceleration of homegrown power”, the government announced tonight.

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In an outline of the long-awaited energy security strategy, ministers focussed on nuclear, offshore wind, hydrogen and a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas in the autumn.

There was no reference in the outline to onshore hydrocarbons, fracking, insulation or energy storage. The full strategy, published on 7 April 2022 had two references to shale gas: the review of fracking science and the need for shale gas developments to meet “rigorous safety and environmental protection both above ground and sub-surface”.

Campaigners said the strategy failed to tackle the climate crisis, soaring energy bills and dependence on volatile oil and gas prices.

Earlier this week, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said greenhouse gas emissions must peak in just three years to keep global warming below 1.5C. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said investing new fossil fuel infrastructure was moral and economic madness.

The prime minister said:

“We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain – from new nuclear to offshore wind – in the decade ahead.

“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.”

The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said:

“We have seen record high gas prices around the world. We need to protect ourselves from price spikes in the future by accelerating our move towards cleaner, cheaper, home-grown energy.

“The simple truth is that the more cheap, clean power we generate within our borders, the less exposed we will be to eye watering fossil fuel prices set by global markets we can’t control.

“Scaling up cheap renewables and new nuclear, while maximising North Sea production, is the best and only way to ensure our energy independence over the coming years.”

Tonight’s outline included an ambition of:

  • New licensing round for North Sea oil and gas projects in the autumn with a new task force
  • Increase nuclear capacity from 7GW to 24GW by 2050, delivering one nuclear reactor a year and reaching up to 25% of projected electricity demand
  • Raise the offshore wind target to 50GW by 2030
  • Introduce planning changes to cut approval times for new offshore wind farms to one year
  • Consultation with communities that want to host new onshore wind infrastructure
  • Competition in 2022 worth £30m to deliver British heat pumps
  • Increase solar power by five times from current levels of 14GW to 70GWby 2035
  • Doubling of low carbon hydrogen to 10GW by 2030

The plan also promises 90,000 jobs in offshore wind by 2028, 30,000 more than previously expected. Solar jobs would almost double to 10,000 jobs and hydrogen increase by 3,000 to 12,000, the document said.

It proposed no planning changes for shale gas or onshore wind. But it promised a simplification of the rules for roof-top solar and a strengthening of policy in favour of ground-mounted solar on non-protected land.

Mike Thompson, director of analysis at the Climate Change Committee, said:

“The Government has doubled down on its Net Zero Strategy today by accelerating plans to secure clean, green, UK-made energy.

“For perhaps the first time, the Government has made commitments that clearly go beyond CCC proposals in key low-carbon technologies: offshore wind, nuclear, hydrogen. The new commitments are hugely ambitious – they would see the UK produce more electricity from offshore wind in 2030 than it has produced from gas in any year in history. Government, business and industry will need to focus relentlessly on delivery at a scale and pace as yet unseen.

“Recognising the difficulties in implementing effective policy quickly, it is still disappointing not to see more on energy efficiency and on supporting households to make changes that can cut their energy bills now. Government has reiterated its commitment to do more and we look forward to seeing details in the coming months.

“Today’s proposals focus on energy supply and would bring us closer to meeting the Net Zero challenge. To shore up the UK’s energy security, they must be delivered alongside other plans in the Net Zero Strategy on how we use energy in our vehicles, our buildings and our industry. Energy security must also account for the changing climate. Adaptation will need more focus in the execution of today’s strategy than seen in its publication today.” (7/4/22)

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said the strategy:

“comprehensively fails to stand up to Putin’s violence, to take the sting out of soaring energy bills, or take control of the spiralling climate crisis”.

“The government could have chosen to power ahead with quick, cost-effective and fair solutions like taxing oil and gas companies’ mega-profits, investing more to cut energy waste from homes, and unblocking planning barriers for cheap and popular onshore wind.

“Instead, while there are some improvements on renewables targets, they have prioritised slow solutions, dishing out rewards to vested interests in the nuclear and the oil and gas industries, which won’t tackle the cost of living crisis or reduce our dependence on gas.”

Friends of the Earth’s energy campaigner, Danny Gross, said:  

“Households are facing soaring bills and need help right now. The quickest way the government can do this is through renewables and funding a council-led, street-by-street free insulation programme.

“By targeting those most in need first we can make sure fewer people face dire circumstances next winter when the cold weather bites. Instead, the astonishing lack of action on energy efficiency will leave people freezing, desperate and out of pocket next winter.

“This fails as a strategy, as it does not do the most obvious things that would reduce energy demand and protect households from price hikes.

“Delving deeper into the UK’s treasure trove of renewables is the surest path to meeting our energy needs – not the fool’s gold of fossil fuels.”

He said ministers needed to go further to make the most of onshore wind resources. He also said nuclear power was not a solution because it was expensive, slow and produced waste that would remain radioactive for thousands of years.

Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, said the plans were in disarray and Boris Johnson had “caved to his own backbenchers”. He said the energy strategy had:

“failed on the sprint we needed on onshore wind and solar – the cheapest, cleanest forms of homegrown power.

“This relaunch will do nothing for the millions of families now facing an energy bills crisis. No reversal of the ban on onshore wind and not a penny more on energy efficiency. These decisions will force households to pay hundreds of pounds more for their energy bills and keep the UK dependent on imported gas for longer.

“After 12 years in government, families are paying the price of Conservative failure. This relaunch won’t cut bills, won’t deliver energy independence, and won’t tackle the climate crisis.”

The Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, said:

“The Conservatives’ failure to help people cut their bills with an urgent energy insulation programme, the failure to back super-cheap onshore wind and the failure to back properly new technologies like tidal power and hydrogen is a total betrayal of families and pensioners across the UK.”

14 replies »

  1. Nothing, zero, zilch, about the one thing that could make a massive difference; energy reduction. Reducing the amount of energy we need reduces the amount of new generation we need, and it maintains that energy reduction year after year. Incompetence or corruption or perhaps both. Failing to invest in energy reduction is just stupid.

    • Energy reduction investment: you might as-well ask Marty to fire up the Delorean, go back in time and let the citizens know what going to happen in the future?!?

      World Population increases, necessitates an increase in energy, are we going to as people to stop breeding?, anyhow, an average house in the UK consumes, related to house occupancy and obvious size: with 2.4 people living in it, 8 kWh of electricity and 33 kWh of gas respectively, per day. 242 kWh or electricy and 1,000 kWh of gas per month, or 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas each year.
      The population of Nigeria for instance is set to overtake the USA before this decade is out, effectively becoming a super power in population terms. What do they have an abundance of oil and gas, what are they going to consume? Oil and Gas. If we in the UK are set in achieving Net Zero, these nations as above are going to eclipse any good we try and achieve…,

      We will always require energy, increased population, houses and offices, for big data as the networks work overtime mining bitcoin, hence we need to harvest more…

  2. Too many people wanting to use plastic in the early hours of the morning, Malcolm. Address personal freedoms or population growth otherwise the rest is nonsense. As those two will not be addressed, then the best that can be achieved is to have an energy strategy. What a surprise (LOL) that UK has been muddling along without a coherent one!

    For myself, I decide there is a thing called daylight which is a free energy source, and utilize that as much as possible. Then, that free source of energy goes out/disappears for a number of hours, and I decide it is time to recharge my batteries, rather than use costly energy and then whinge about the bill I receive. Many animals seem to be pretty good at doing the same, humans have decided themselves to move in the opposite direction. Their choice so their cost.

    • What a fascinating revelation Martin Frederick Collyer! So now you are admitting that all energy comes from the sun. I believe I have a convert!

      “For myself, I decide there is a thing called daylight which is a free energy source, and utilize that as much as possible.”

      BTW. I’m happy to be guilty of that quote myself. Since I have been saying just that for many years now.

      Congratulations on at last understanding the truth. Except for one wrong statement. The sun remains shining all the time, and has done for many billions of years. Unfortunately, your own perspective is all you were capable of perceiving until this moment.

      As you progress towards the Real world facts of energy and leave the fossil fuel delusions behind you, the truth you will discover will be far more freeing of your previous delusions than you can ever imagine.

      That was the first step into the Real World of solar facts, Martin Frederick Collyer. One small step for Martin Frederick Collyer, one giant leap for the rest of mankind to be free of monopolistic fossil fuel delusions. There are many more leaps of science that you can take before the entire Real World becomes yet another deep revelation on your own road to the truth.

      I’ll mark that up as a success of Reality over delusion.

      Have a Nice Solar fuelled Day….

  3. Nope, PhilC. You read something, but failed to identify what you had read.

    “a” and “as much as possible” were in the text, but missed by yourself-although by quoting my words you must be responsible for them!

    (Don’t use a sat. nav. If you follow just part you may end up in all sorts of difficulties. Aberdeen instead of PNR?)

    For a guy with your background, I dread to think what construction errors were produced by such an inability to read and then put the written word into action.

    But, thanks for reading. Who knows what might be next? Perhaps understanding?

    (Must go, the tip awaits and there is now a smart new booking system that I must fit into.)

    • [Edited by moderator]

      You were doing so well for at last becoming a convert to the truth about the fossil fuel delusions and stating very clearly:

      “For myself, I decide there is a thing called daylight which is a free energy source, and utilize that as much as possible.”

      An accurate statement that I am happily willing to be guilty of myself, (unlike the rest of the attempts at deflections and deceptions) since I have been saying the very same truth about free energy from the sun, which is our only source of energy, for years now.

      Are you going to, yet again, deny the very clear black and white existence of your own words again Martin Frederick Collyer?

      Shame again!

      For a guy with your “background”, I dread to think what Marketing errors were produced by such an inability to read what you yourself wrote and then failed put the written word into action….


      Aww! Another Shame!

      Do try not to be a recidivist and back down on your recent conversion away from fossil fuel energy delusions. You were doing so well there for a moment….

      That was a brief, but welcome revelation to reality and the fact that the sun produces all our energy for free “I decide there is a thing called daylight which is a free energy source, and utilize that as much as possible” That became almost conscious for a moment there, didn’t it. But if that scared you into suddenly becoming aware of all those delusions about fossil fuels being anything more than a legacy of the sun providing all the energy all those years back in the Carboniferous and since, then at least that acknowledgement, is the first step on the rocky road to all the rest of the revelations yet to come for one once so bent on fossil fuel delusional propaganda.

      I suspect any use you might have derived from a satnav is compromised to your own missmarketing errors than actually listening to the instructions? No wonder your posts end up halfway up a dark delusional alley on a one way trip to the top of that precipitous cliff. Like Wile E Coyote, you are beginning to feel for the absent ground beneath your feet…..

      Have a Nice Solar Energy Revelation Day….

      • OMG.

        Yes, I like the sun, PhilC. Great at the moment, but will end all life on earth in the future.(Except, the DoD English seems to suggest that is not fact, because it was not in the past!)

        Mind you, PhilC, you have a lot of sun energy to use to compensate for all that fossil fuel energy. May you live long, but I suspect the balance sheet will still not balance.

        Sat navs.? Nope, the only use I make of them is to entertain my grandson and send him off for a nap. The endless “take the second exit” seems to lull him into happy dreams. Perhaps that is what the energy savers need during the evening?

        • Oh My God! (the unexpurgated non-acronym version)

          Yes, the Sun is wonderful, and the wind is strong, the waves are high, and I’m moving on, I’m gonna be your number one…. (Oops! I almost broke into a Debbie Harry song then?)

          What is this odd obsession with the antithesis fossil fuel protagonists, that keep repeating that in the future, all life on earth will end? Isn’t the purpose of life to live it and not to worry about some event millions or billions of years in some distant future? Individually, it will be much sooner for all of us. But surely to live life, one must:

          Always look on the bright side of life? (Oops! I almost burst into another Monty Python song there too?). Also, why would anyone need to compensate for fossil fuel energy, when the sun is free energy, as you said so yourself?

          I don’t know what balance sheet you are referring to? God’s perhaps? That would explain your oft repeated calls for God at the beginning of some posts, I suppose. Though I suspect the shortened corporate acronym version is less…suitable…than the full name in the English interpretation, at least.

          Don’t you know there is no balance sheet, and that there is no judgement other than that you impose upon yourself. I think you’ve been reading too much of the Old Testament angry god testimonials. Most of the modern English bible was written and rewritten by emperor Constantine’s bureaucratic rewriting of the original Christian scrolls, and then numerous times by monks in the 15th to 17th century. Unfortunately, they weren’t too careful, or knowledgeable, of the full meaning of many of the original Aramaic texts. You might want to research the Nag Hammadi Codices and the Dead Sea scrolls for the original texts, which are less…apocalyptic…and more instructional for a better way to lead your life.

          You could look further back to the Egyptian and Sumerian texts for earlier instructions if you like. But even those are sourced from long ago, before then. Possibly pre-flood times back to the mythical ages, going back into history that has been forgotten in modern times.

          Even energy in those far off days was free to those who even needed it, and most didn’t. The ancient Indian Vedic Sanskrit texts write of flying vehicles (Vimana) and even antigravity, spacecraft, nuclear weapons, and crystals that provided free power from the sun, all that time ago. There are deserts where the sand is fused into rock like glass for miles around.

          Even then, there were those who used energy for political power and destruction, and were far too trigger-happy for their own good. Just as many are today. Only an insane species would nuclear war themselves back to the Stone Age. Its all been done before until the human race learns the one lesson, even today, that can’t be spoken.

          Never trust a so-called leader or a monopolistic corporation, that you have given ultimate power over your life or death.

          So I wouldn’t worry too much about divine balance sheets and compensating for crimes against fossil fuel energy industries. It’s all been done before, and much, much worse, and much, much better and even more intelligent beings, long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. (Oops! I almost burst into the beginning scroll of Star Wars then?)

          I would advise, just enjoy life while it’s here, play with your grandchildren as do I, and enjoy our family and friends.

          Have a long life and prosper…(Oops! I almost burst into Spock’s Star Trek greeting then?)



  4. There’s always Cornwall, Jill!

    The bit left after the extraction of lithium, the geothermal industrialization and then the blasting away for granite chunks to build lagoons, may be plundered. Although, maybe Nimbys also live in Cornwall.

    • People who look ahead live there – and Cornwall County Council rejected proposed nuclear power station with one abstention in 1983.

  5. I was naively expecting an energy policy What we got was an energy strategy i.e. a long term (aprrox 8-28) year aspiration for what could or might happen in the future. It was the sort of strategy that should have been declared at least a decade ago. In terms of dealing with a current crisis in energy security, supply and cost, fuel poverty, rampant inflation, along with climate change, it’s pathetic, nay non-existent. I would even go as far as saying: exactly what I expected. For the sake of argument, if we had a PM who was known/proven to be a serial liar, philanderer and brazen law-breaker, would he be entirely open to blackmail and manipulation by those with a comprehensive knowledge of the facts i.e. back-benchers?

  6. What I expected was an energy strategy, Mike. I believe that was made perfectly clear to all but a few, including some in the media.

    But, you are right, it is long overdue. Once again, Boris is having to deal with something that should have been sorted a lot more than a decade ago. Bit like Social Care, Brexit and Levelling Up. Tough jobs, but someone has to them if they have the guts to do so.

    I do like your novel approach regarding back-benchers! Please name me one UK PM who has not been required to take account of back-benchers. That is the UK form of Government, that I believe is referred to as democracy.

    Jill-those who live in Cornwall rejected the Lizard being sacrificed to build the Swansea Lagoon, also. I have yet to see any reflection of that within calls for the project to happen.

  7. Hopefully the agenda for solar panels is on rooftops and not on what ought to be – and was – arable farmland; unless Agenda 2030 involves taking more farmland out of use?

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