Energy industry braces for UK’s Green Day – Will it be a game changer or a flop?
Posted 28/03/2023 15:18
The government is getting ready for a major event happening this Thursday where they will unveil their plan for ‘Powering Up Britain’.
This highly anticipated announcement, which was previously dubbed ‘Green Day’ and ‘Energy Security Day’, is expected to take place in Aberdeen in Scotland.
According to sources, the plan will focus on investing in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The government is also expected to support hydrogen production and usage and a wider plan for meeting the target of 24GW from nuclear power by 2050.
The package will also include a new mandate for car manufacturers who will be required to produce a set proportion of electric vehicles from January.
But is the energy industry hopeful for what the next day will bring?
Energy UK‘s Deputy Director Adam Berman told ELN: “It’s positive to see the government consider policies that can fast-track our energy transition in line with the conclusions of Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review.
“Industry is urgently looking for clarity on the regulatory frameworks for key technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS), in addition to dramatically reducing planning and grid connection timelines to support a rapid expansion of low carbon generation.”
Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) told ELN: “Government must take this opportunity to get the pipeline for renewable and clean technology investments moving again by responding to the increasingly competitive international market that is putting UK projects at risk.
“This requires real policies that directly resolve the main barriers to renewable energy and clean technology deployment and provide them with sensible routes to market. It is hoped that the government will be responding to Chris Skidmore’s Mission Zero Report and revisiting the government’s own Net Zero Strategy.
“This will mean taking the current strategy beyond a list of targets and announcing real practical proposals that get projects moving quickly.
“This needs to be done for the full range of renewable and clean technologies required to get to Net Zero. We hope this includes announcements on the winning projects for the Track-1 Carbon Capture and Storage allocation processes; the winning projects under the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund; mandatory food and garden waste collections; finalisation of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate proposals and a renewed focus on the delivery of established renewable technologies such as solar PV, to re-energise the deployment of low carbon generation critical to an affordable, secure and decarbonised energy system.”
Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK’s energy network operators said: “We must recognise the scale of the net zero transformation and the leading role energy networks will play in enabling net zero, so we need to ensure that networks can build the right infrastructure, in the right places, at the right times, to help make decarbonisation a reality.
“A massive increase in network capacity is going to be needed to deliver the millions of electric vehicles and heat pumps needed for a net zero future.
“A lot of this can be delivered through innovation, and ENA recently brought 450 innovators together in Birmingham to look at these challenges. But the reality is, we will also need to invest in new infrastructure. To do that at the lowest possible cost to customers means investing early, where we know the demand is coming. It also means reforming planning rules to speed up connections and the delivery of infrastructure needed.
“As highlighted by Jane Toogood, the UK Hydrogen Champion, in her recent report, it’s crucial the government reaches a decision on hydrogen blending urgently and provides clarity on what the shape of the decision on hydrogen for heat in 2026 will be.
“We also need clarity on the timeline around funding allocation rounds if gas network operators are to maintain the necessary pace of delivery. All of this is vital for UK industry, businesses and communities.”
Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “As one of the UK’s most dynamic and fastest-growing industries we urgently need a framework that will encourage investment and see us deploy the renewable energy projects required to safeguard our energy security and meet our net zero targets.
“To deliver the significant economic and environmental benefits of this clean energy investment, the UK Government needs to match the incentives currently offered by other countries to ensure we remain an internationally competitive investment destination for renewable energy.”
Gemma Grimes, Director of Policy and Delivery, Solar Energy UK told ELN: “We anticipate a tweaked Energy Security Strategy and perhaps a Green Finance Strategy – both of which we hope will provide an additional boost to the sector. We may also see the government publish its response to the Skidmore Review into Net Zero – and we are keen to see whether the government plans to take forward Skidmore’s recommendations for a Solar Taskforce.
“We would strongly support any initiative designed to accelerate the decarbonisation of our homes and businesses, reduce energy costs and increase energy security and we look forward to reviewing the government’s response to the Review.”
Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, told ELN: “The CCUS industry is expecting to find out which carbon capture projects will be the first to move forward to contract under the Track-1 clusters.
“We also need to see the detail of the track-1 extension referenced in the Spring Budget and a clear route to market for further UK regions that need support for carbon capture in order to decarbonise.
“At a time when other countries were accelerating their CCUS and Hydrogen infrastructure, the UK programme came to a standstill, so things now need to accelerate rapidly if we are to capitalise on our strengths.
“A visible pathway for decarbonisation of all industrial regions using CCUS is necessary to maintain our industrial base and grow a future low carbon supply chain across the UK.”
Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs said: “This week’s ’green day’ must push the reset button on the government’s failing and unlawful net zero strategy.
“With scientists issuing a ‘final warning’ on the climate crisis only last week, every government department has to play its part in slashing emissions.
“This must include measures to insulate our heat-leaking homes and harness the nation’s huge onshore wind potential, which would not only cut the pollution that’s warming our planet, it would also boost energy security and make bills more affordable.”