The government chose 30 March as the day to simultaneously issue dozens of documents on energy and climate change. These include policy documents, consultation responses, new consultations and research papers. We have gone through them to pick out the biggest announcements.
Continued ambition on offshore wind
2020’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution pledged to quadruple offshore wind production to 40GW by 2030, which was increased to 50GW in 2022’s Energy Security Strategy. The new policy document Powering Up Britain repeats the 50GW promise and announces the launch of a Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme to improve UK port infrastructure. Applications to the scheme are now open and there is guidance on how to apply.
A draft National Policy Statement (NPS) on Energy, also published today, states that the government now sees the provision of new offshore wind infrastructure as “a critical national priority (CNP)”. The CNP status would expedite the delivery of this infrastructure.
New taskforce on solar
The Energy Security Strategy had already set out the ambition to quintuple solar capacity by 2030, which could take us to 70GW. The Powering Up Britain document restates this target, which would be enough to power over 20 million homes. It says that government is seeking large-scale deployment of ground-mounted solar and widespread deployment of rooftop solar. Following the recommendation of the Independent Review of Net Zero, it is setting up a taskforce to deliver on this.
Hydrogen projects announcement
The 2021 Hydrogen Strategy includes the goal of creating 5GW of low carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030. In 2022, the Energy Security Strategy doubled this to 10GW. The Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, worth up to £240 million, was set up to support the development of this capacity. The government has now announced which projects have been successful in the first round of the competition for for the funding. They include a hub on a former MoD site in Pembrokeshire, the port of Felixstowe and a world first in using green hydrogen for glass production in St Helens.
There will be a second round of bids for funding later this year and a hydrogen production delivery roadmap by the end of the year.
Pinning hopes on CCUS
The Spring Budget included up to £20 billion of funding for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), showing how important the technology is for the government’s decarbonisation plans.
It has selected eight CCUS projects from its “Track 1 CCUS clusters” that will now be able to negotiate for government support. They represent a range of CCUS technologies. Now Track 2 is open and there is guidance on how to come forward with an expression of interest.
The government has also just launched a consultation on possible business models for hydrogen production and industrial carbon capture. The Powering Up Britain document mentions that these new business models may require government to introduce new legislative powers.
New body: Great British Nuclear
The government has created a body to be responsible for driving the delivery of new nuclear projects. Great British Nuclear (GBN) will be based in or near Greater Manchester. In April 2023, according to the Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, GBN will launch a competitive process to select the best Small Modular Reactor technologies. GBN will eventually have a statutory role (when parliamentary time allows for the legislation to go through).
Cleaner heat, warmer homes
So the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, where energy suppliers pay a levy to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions, is being extended. The new Great British Insulation Scheme will help a wider number of households – around 300,000 of the UK’s leakiest homes. The government is expecting to spend £1 billion on this project and complete it in three years.
The Powering Up Britain document says: “We want to make it as cheap to buy and run a heat pump as a gas boiler.” For this reason, they will be extending the Boiler Upgrade Scheme by three years. They have also launched a Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition to incentivise the manufacturing of heat pumps in the UK.
The government has also just launched a consultation on clean heat.
Adjusting the course for net zero
The government’s original net zero strategy was ruled as “inadequate and unlawful” by the High Court last year. It was legally obliged to amend the strategy within eight months of the July 2022 ruling, so 30 March 2023 was very close to the deadline. Since then the Independent Review of Net Zero has also sounded the alarm on government’s inadequate decarbonisation progress. The Net Zero Growth Plan and Carbon Budget Delivery Plan can both be seen as attempts to deliver more solid detail on the UK’s net zero strategy.
On a day when 44 documents were released at once, it is impossible to share all the developments in one article. But in the coming days, the Energy Advice Hub will be digging into the detail of the recent policy announcements and what they mean for UK business. Stay tuned for more updates.