Why is the energy strategy needed?
The soaring energy prices we have seen over the past year have led to a cost-of-living crisis. One major component of this is due to the energy price cap being risen to £1971. The price cap is set to rise again this October with the average household bill coming to around £2,300. This price rise is going to hit many families across the UK hard over the next couple of years.
The UK is not the only country that is having issues with its energy prices. Countries across Europe are also seeing sky-high energy prices, a lot of this was due to the strain on suppliers from the lockdowns due to the pandemic. However, now the EU has current issues with energy due to Russia. Putin is using EU energy supplies to gain leverage over these countries. Russia supplies 40% of gas for the EU. If Putin decides to tighten the supply even further, it will put a strain on the energy market across Europe and globally.
The UK only imports around 3% of our gas from Russia and around 8% of our oil. However, the UK energy prices rely heavily on the state of the international energy market. When the market is in a volatile state as it is at this moment due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine the prices will rise.
How is the energy strategy going to help?
To combat high energy prices the government has put in place a new energy security strategy to ensure that prices are lowering as well as keeping the country on track to net-zero targets that have been set.
The main way the government wants to tackle the energy crisis is to improve energy efficiency in households and businesses. It has been planned for around £6 billion to be spent on decarbonizing the nation’s homes and buildings. Having energy-efficient measures within the home and buildings will allow for more efficient and reliable energy output and allow us to become less reliant on imported oil and gas.
Plans also include accelerating wind, solar, hydrogen, and nuclear power to help fast-track the transition away from oil and gas. This depends on how quickly renewables can be rolled out and begin to be effective. The strategy has outlined how the government is going to relax planning rules that have prevented renewable energy structures from being built for example wind farms.
The strategy also focuses on fossil fuels. Although the government wants to keep net-zero at the forefront front of energy plans they have said that we cannot have an immediate extraction of oil and gas. The cleanest and securest way to continue using oil and gas would be to source it domestically. The main place this will be done is in the North Sea. This will also mean that we will have a lower carbon footprint by producing oil and gas in this country than doing so abroad.
For renewables two of the biggest sources of energy are going to offshore wind and nuclear energy. The government is hoping for 50GW of energy to be generated from offshore wind farms by 2030. This will be enough to power every home in Britain. Planning rules have been relaxed and set to priority projects to allow them to be built.
The Government also plans to restart nuclear power to recover the global leadership the used to hold. Most of the UK’s existing power plants are going offline within the decade. Therefore, the government has stated that they are investing in the country’s future and will utility lower energy costs by setting up a long-term nuclear program. The government estimate this will provide 25%of the country’s electricity demand by 2050.
The government has set out plans for solar power in the new energy strategy. They expect the current 14GW capacity to see a five-fold increase by 2035. They plan to utilize more public rooftops to use for solar power plans. As well as this there are plans to support solar that is co-located with other functions such as agriculture, wind generation, and storage.
Why people are questioning the energy strategy
Since the government has set out the energy strategy there have been some concerns such as many people are questioning why the government isn’t promoting solar PV generation and adding incentives for businesses to do this. such as increased feed-in tariffs. Using Solar in this way could increase battery storage and reduce demand on the local grid when supplying a network of EV chargers.
It has also been considered how long nuclear power will take to come into effect and whether the high budget is really needed. Nuclear power plants take many years to build and begin generating electricity. For example, the new nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C which is now estimated to be ready for 2026 is already at a cost of £23 billion. That is almost double what it was originally supposed to cost back in 2008. Investors such as EDF are taking the hit of the rise in price for now however this will also affect consumers by adding around £10-15 to the average energy bill for the next 35 years.
A cheaper alternative to this could be to make homes and businesses more energy-efficient by adding renewable sources for on site energy generation, such as adding more domestic solar panels and installing heat pumps in buildings. Depending on the size of your business and the building you are operating in you could save up to 26% on your energy bills with a ground source heat pump. Although the government has laid out plans in their energy strategy to make homes and buildings more energy-efficient, more in-depth plans, and strategies could be put in place here as well as more budget instead of focusing on nuclear power.
Having more energy-efficient homes and buildings would also reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and oil imported from other countries such as Russia which can make our energy prices more volatile. Whereas if we wait for nuclear energy to power the grid then we could be exposed to the ever-rising gas and electricity prices over the next 30 years.
The IPCC’s reports have made it clear that emissions must fall before 2025 for the world to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. However, the UK focused on long-term renewable energy plans such as new nuclear power plants is not going to cut emissions fast enough as “immediate deep cuts” are required everywhere. Therefore, it is questionable whether our leaders are doing enough in meeting the challenge to meet net zero. As it is arguable that building new renewable energy infrastructure isn’t going to cut emissions quickly enough.
Although the government’s plans might be slow with lowering emissions there are still ways your business can contribute. To lower your greenhouse gas output and energy bills you need to look at what your current consumption is and start to decide whether the onsite generation is possible. We can help with this. At Resolve Net Zero we can work all this out and decide what type of energy generation would be best for your business or if other services such as carbon offsetting or green tariffs would be more suitable. Through our net-zero services, we can provide solutions that will ensure businesses can be protected from the pressures of increased and uncertain energy prices.
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If you're ready to improve your energy efficiency whilst driving down energy bills then why not get in touch? From voltage optimisation to solar, Resolve Net Zero have developed relationships with the UK's best sustainability partners so our net zero experts can source the best carbon reduction solutions available to your company. Request a free quote now and start reducing your carbon footprint and energy bills today.