In it, the government has set out how the UK will accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen, whilst supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the near term.
The strategy will see a significant acceleration of nuclear, with an ambition of up to 24GW by 2050, which would represent a quarter of the UK’s projected electricity demand. Small Modular Reactors will form a key part of the nuclear project pipeline, pending technology readiness.
A new government body - Great British Nuclear - will be established to bring new projects forward. Also set to launch is a £120m Future Nuclear Enabling Fund aimed at providing targeted support to address barriers to entry. Up to eight new nuclear reactors could be delivered via the strategy by the end of the decade.
“The new nuclear target of 24GW by 2050 is a vital step forward for UK energy security and our net zero future. This investment will also create tens of thousands of jobs across the country. The ambition and determination to do much more and quicker is very welcome,” commented Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association.
He added: “Along with removing barriers to projects getting started, building investor confidence by ensuring nuclear is classified as green in the UK taxonomy and making it eligible for green bonds are important next steps.
“We also want to see the money from the promised Future Nuclear Enabling Fund allocated at pace, with good sites being made available for project development.”
Energy strategy in brief
- Offshore wind: A new ambition of up to 50GW by 2030, with up to 5GW from floating offshore wind in deeper seas. This will be underpinned by new planning reforms to cut the approval times for new offshore wind farms from four years to one year.
- Oil and gas: A licensing round for new North Sea oil and gas projects planned to launch in Autumn, with a new taskforce providing bespoke support to new developments.
- Onshore wind: The government will consult on developing partnerships with communities supportive of new onshore wind. Those communities will be rewarded with guaranteed lower energy bills.
- Heat pump manufacturing: The government is to run a Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition in 2022, worth up to £30m, to make British heat pumps.
Further measures include increasing the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity which could grow up to 5 times by 2035, and a doubling low carbon hydrogen production capacity to 10GW by 2030.
The strategy has been formulated in light of rising global energy prices, triggered by surging demand after the pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a statement, the government said fossil fuels are subject to volatile gas prices set by international markets which it is unable to control. The new strategy aims to boost to diverse sources of homegrown energy for greater energy security in the long-term.
“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,” said Kwasi Kwarteng, business and energy secretary. “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.”