Government publishes Energy White Paper

The UK government has published its Energy White Paper, outlining plans to clean up our energy system, support up to 220,000 British jobs, and keep bills affordable as we transition to net zero by 2050.

Building on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the Energy White Paper sets out specific steps the government will take over the next decade to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings by 230 million metric tonnes – equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently – while supporting hundreds of thousands of new green jobs.

Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Today’s plan establishes a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources that will put our country at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution.

“Through a major programme of investment and reform, we are determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come.

“At every step of the way, we will place affordability and fairness at the heart of our reforms – unleashing a wave of competition so consumers get the best deals possible on their bills, while protecting the vulnerable and fuel poor with additional financial support.

“With this long-term plan, we are turning climate ambition into climate action – putting the UK firmly on the course to net zero to end our contribution to climate change as we build back greener.”

Alongside the Energy White Paper, the government has also confirmed that it is to enter negotiations with EDF in relation to the Sizewell C project in Suffolk as it considers options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament. If the project proceeds, it could create thousands of new jobs during construction and operation.

Core parts of the Energy White Paper include:

  1. Supporting up to 220,000 jobs in the next 10 years. This includes long-term jobs in major infrastructure projects for power generation, carbon capture storage and hydrogen, as well as a major programme of retrofitting homes for improved energy efficiency and clean heat.
  2. Transforming the UK’s energy system from one that was historically based on fossil fuels to one that is fit for a net zero economy, changing how we heat our homes and travel, doubling our electricity use, and harnessing renewable energy supplies.
  3. Keeping bills affordable for consumers by making the energy retail market truly competitive. This will include offering people a simple method of switching to a cheaper energy tariff, and testing automatically switching consumers to fairer deals to tackle “loyalty penalties”.
  4. Generating emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see us have overwhelmingly decarbonised power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat.
  5. Establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) from 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the Transition Period. It increases ambition on reducing emissions, and provides continuation of emissions trading for UK businesses and certainty on how they operate.
  6. Continuing to explore a range of financing options for new nuclear with developers including the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model, which could help secure private investment and cost consumers less in the long run. Given the scale of the financing challenge, we will also consider the potential role of government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.
  7. Delivering ambitious electricity commitments through our world-beating commitment to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1GW of floating wind, enough to power every home in the country – while attracting new offshore wind manufacturers to the UK.
  8. Investing £1 billion in state-of-the-art carbon capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 – sucking carbon out of industrial processes to stop emissions escaping to the air. Four low carbon clusters will be set up by 2030, and at least one fully net zero cluster by 2040, stimulating the market to attract new investors and manufacturers to reinvigorate our industrial heartlands.
  9. Kick-starting the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030, backed up by a new £240m net zero Hydrogen Fund for low carbon hydrogen production.
  10. Investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways as well as up to £1 billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass-production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles. The rollout has levelling up at its heart, and will support economic growth across the UK – including in our strong manufacturing bases in the Midlands and the North East – while supporting the 169,000 jobs in our world-leading automotive sector.
  11. Supporting the lowest paid with their bills through a £6.7 billion package of measures that could save families in old inefficient homes up to £400. This includes extending the Warm Home Discount Scheme to 2026 to cover an extra three quarters of a million households and giving eligible households £150 off their electricity bills each winter. The £2 billion Green Homes Grant announced by the Chancellor has been extended for a further year in the Ten Point Plan.
  12. Moving away from fossil fuel boilers, helping to make people’s homes warmer, whilst keeping bills low. By the mid-2030s we expect all newly installed heating systems to be low carbon or to be appliances that we are confident can be converted to a clean fuel supply.
  13. Supporting North Sea oil and gas transition for the people and communities most affected by the move away from oil and gas production, ensuring that the expertise of the oil and gas sector be drawn on in developing carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production to provide new green jobs.

Responding to the publication, Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Today’s White Paper clearly establishes the Government’s intention to shift the UK from a fossil fuel economy towards one powered by clean, green energy sources; with renewable energy acknowledged as delivering the cheap, low-carbon energy we need to achieve this.

“Scotland is already at the forefront of the energy transition with the equivalent of 90 per cent of its electricity consumption generated by renewable energy resources. The next priority is to decarbonise heat and transport and the White Paper provides the supporting context needed to ensure Scotland’s abundant onshore and offshore wind resource is harnessed to address this.

“Scotland’s renewables industry is currently worth £5.5 billion per year, with each additional gigawatt of renewable energy creating 1,500 jobs and adding £133 million GVA to the economy. Our industry will be critical to ambitions to fulfil the North Sea energy transition with Scotland ideally placed to deliver a growing percentage of the clean electricity and green hydrogen we need for the green economic recovery and to create new jobs.

“The ambition to grow heat pump installations to 600,000 per year by 2028 plus the commitment to place affordability and fairness at the heart of our reforms will also benefit Scottish home owners, especially those in remote rural areas where heating costs are disproportionately high.”

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