On Thursday the 30th of March 2023, the Government announced the ‘Powering Up Britain: Energy Security Plan’. This lengthy document sets out a long-term plan designed to strengthen the country’s energy security and make energy more affordable nationwide.
Why is ‘Powering Up Britain’ needed?
The effects of a global pandemic, Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine and other factors have highlighted severe vulnerabilities in the UK’s energy sector. Energy bills have increased to unmanageable levels for thousands of households. On top of this, lofty Net Zero targets loom in the very near future. All of this motivates a change in the way the UK sources and handles its energy.
What is ‘Powering Up Britain’?
The ‘Powering Up Britain: Energy Security Plan’ is a comprehensive plan created to direct the UK’s transition to a cleaner, greener, more energy-secure future. The plan lays out guidelines for the acceleration of important industries like renewable energy to boost the UK’s independent energy generation. Also, the plan proposes adjustments to existing government schemes (such as the Boiler Upgrade Scheme) to extend their reach in an effort to bring down household energy bills.
What does the plan include?
The plan includes a variety of measures designed to improve energy security, bring down household bills and boost clean energy in the UK. Some of these measures include:
- Fostering a reliable landscape for businesses to invest and expand throughout the transition to electric vehicles and sustainable aviation fuel
- Extending the BUS to 2028 to encourage the installation of Heat Pumps
- Allocating an extra £10 billion capacity to UK Export Finance to push exports
- Great British Nuclear will launch a competition to select and begin development on the best Small Modular Reactor technologies
- Speeding up the planning process to allow for renewable energy infrastructure to be built quickly
- Investing in Carbon Capture Usage & Storage
- Cutting household energy bills by expanding existing government support using schemes such as ECO+
- Investing nearly £400 million into the infrastructure supporting electric vehicles
Reactions to Powering Up Britain
Many are excited by ‘Powering Up Britain’, seeing it as a solid step towards Net Zero and a reliable route to achieving the UK’s ambitious energy goals.
In fact, recent reports have suggested that thousands of green jobs are expected to be both created and supported by the objectives set out in ‘Powering Up Britain’. This will boost the UK’s economy and feed industry growth in a positive cycle. Additionally, it is hoped that these changes will create a strategic advantage for Britain in the international clean-energy market, and generate opportunities for trade in the growing global carbon and energy industries.
“Great British Nuclear will transform the way nuclear projects are deployed in the UK, enabling us to deliver more capacity more quickly. It will help us become a global leader in large and small scale nuclear, with the SMR selection process offering a real opportunity for home-grown technologies and others to bring jobs, skills and investment to the UK.”
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association
“The banking and finance sector fully supports the government’s goal of net zero UK emissions by 2050 and is committed to a just transition. We welcome the government’s commitment to investment in the UK’s energy independence and hope this package can be used to deliver green growth up and down the country.”
David Postings, Chief Executive of UK Finance said:
“We welcome the government’s latest commitment to review UK’s strategy and deliver net zero. This new raft of policies should kick-start private sector innovations across clean energy and wider industry. The tech sector has a crucial part to play in delivering on the targets, there is also the real opportunity to make the UK the home of climate tech. With the increased urgency of addressing climate change, it’s time to make real strides in the transition towards a more sustainable and prosperous future.”
Matt Evans, Director for Markets at techUK said:
However, others feel that the new Energy Security Plan is not nearly enough.
The magnitude of the work required for the transition to Net Zero is immense. Rethinking entire industries – not just nationwide but globally – is a difficult task and requires major changes enacted severely and swiftly. Amongst those who doubt the effectiveness of the new plan are some academics and green groups, some of whom feel that the Energy Security Plan does not go far enough to advance permanent solutions – such as renewable energy.
“This latest government energy strategy is a weak response to the UK’s zero carbon energy needs. “The regressive measures on fossil fuels won’t make any real impact on our bills and energy security, but they are enough to downgrade the UK’s role as a leader in tackling climate change.”
Dr Chris Jones, Expert in Climate Change at the University of Manchester
“The greenest thing about this is the recycling of already announced ideas.”
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP
“Speeding up the planning process for new renewable energy developments is welcome, but it has to be accompanied by reforms that make it easier, faster and cheaper to get a grid connection.”
Lucy Yu, CEO of the Centre for Net Zero