The Future is Green, The Future is Bright.
Key Contact: Christian Farrow
Author: Michael Hinder
On 18 December 2020 the UK finally released the long awaited “Energy White Paper: Powering our net zero future” which outlines how the UK Government aim to tackle climate change in a post coronavirus world.
This follows Boris Johnson’s 10-Point plan, published in November 2020, which forms the foundation of the white paper.
The Prime minister has set out the target for a green industrial revolution which will create and support up to 250,000 jobs in the UK. In 2019 the UK Government and devolved administrations committed to the net-zero target as recommended by the Climate Change Committee. To reach the target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions will require unprecedented changes across the economy. In order to ensure that the UK keeps on track with this target, the plan consists of covering clean energy, transport, nature, and innovative technologies.
The ten-point plan is comprised of the following:
- Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.
- Hydrogen: Working with the industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power, and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
- Nuclear: Advancing nuclear as a clean energy source and developing the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which could support 10,000 jobs.
- Electric vehicles: Backing our world-leading car manufacturing bases including in the West Midlands, North East, and North Wales to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and transforming our national infrastructure to better support electric vehicles.
- Public transport, cycling and walking: Making cycling and walking more attractive ways to travel and investing in zero-emission public transport of the future.
- Jet Zero and greener maritime: Supporting difficult-to-decarbonise industries to become greener through research projects for zero-emission planes and ships.
- Homes and public buildings: Making our homes, schools, and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy-efficient, whilst creating 50,000 jobs by 2030, and a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
- Carbon capture: Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions away from the atmosphere, with a target to remove 10MT of carbon dioxide by 2030, equivalent to all emissions of the industrial Humber today.
- Nature: Protecting and restoring our natural environment, planting 30,000 hectares of trees every year, whilst creating and retaining thousands of jobs.
- Innovation and finance: Developing the cutting-edge technologies needed to reach these new energy ambitions and make the City of London the global centre of green finance.
The Prime Minister also announced six new investment strategies to tackle six of the points above. Carbon Capture, an extra £200 Million of new funding. Hydrogen, up to £500 million. Nuclear, £525 million. Homes and Public buildings, £1 billion. Greener maritime, £20 million.
A major shift is that of electric vehicles. The Prime Minister also confirmed that the UK will end the sale of new petrol or diesel cars and vans by 2030, previously the target was 2040. To couple this announcement, £1.3 billion was announced to accelerate the rollout of charging points for electric vehicles, £582 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles and nearly £500 million to be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries.
This sets the foundation for how the UK Government will plan to overhaul the energy sector and tackle climate change.
What did the white paper show?
The white paper ultimately puts the net zero emissions target and the global effort to fight climate change at its core. Setting out the wider stage to hit the targets, it marks a critical point that will see the government propel its efforts to tackle climate change ahead of the COP26 climate summit later this year.
Built around 13 commitments including the ten point plan, the white paper is the start of the transformation of the UK’s energy system from its reliance on fossil fuels to one that is capable of not only hitting the net zero emission target, but breaking it.
Supporting and transforming energy : Key points
It laid out plans to establish the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) from 1 January 2021 which has replaced the old EU ETS because of the Brexit transitionary period. This will allow the UK Government to provide certainty on how they operate.
Not only does it solidify the intention to tackle climate change, but it also provides commitments to support the many oil and gas workers that will ultimately suffer from it. The North Sea basin which is notoriously known for its reliance on fossil fuels, will be hit significantly by the move towards clean energy. Investment and support for those who will be most affected by the transition to a more cleaner energy-focused nation will be assisted in securing new roles in developing Carbon capture and storage investment (CCS) along with hydrogen power.
Carbon capture and storage investment is a relatively new technology that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and transports it to a stage site or underground. It is viewed by many as the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions and removing CO2. The white paper provides funding in the region of £1 billion for state-of-the-art CCS.
With hydrogen being pinned as one of the most important factors to drive decarbonisation across heavy polluting sectors like industry and transport, having a hydrogen alternative will prove to be essential. The Government’s plan is to work with the industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030 which will be backed up by a new £240m net-zero hydrogen fund for low carbon hydrogen production.
Further commitments to the wind sector will be welcomed. The UK currently has around 35% of the global wind capacity installed, with plans announced to scale up its offshore wind fleet to 40 gigawatts by 2030, including 1GW of floating wind which would be enough to power every home in the nation.
The future looks green. With emerging technology, electric vehicles paving the way, hydrogen resurging, all collectively trying to achieve the same common goal. By no means will the future be a one size fits all in terms of one way is better than the other, but combining the diverse mix of renewable resources and technologies should showcase the UK as a world-leading country in clean energy.
The biggest hurdle to clean energy is that of cost. However, with the correct investment framework and consistent government policy working in tangent with corporations this will be mitigated. The government publications including the white paper have lit the flame that will hopefully burn for the long-term future. By providing clear instruction and guidance, direction, and incentives with a realistic goal in mind, the future looks green, the future looks bright.
For more information on the topic, please get in touch with the Corporate Team.