The ‘British Energy Security Strategy’ builds on the Prime Minister’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’ and the ‘Net Zero Strategy’. The plan comes in light of rising global energy prices, driven by post-pandemic surge in demand as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The strategy, which aims to boost the UK’s energy independence and tackle rising prices, also includes plans to increase wind, hydrogen and solar generation. But experts have called for a greater focus on energy efficiency and improving home insulation. Consumers are facing rising energy bills after the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushed gas prices even higher.
Under new government plans, up to 95% of UK electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030.
Industrialists react to the British energy security strategy:
Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “The Energy Security Strategy is the bold and ambitious plan we need to counteract our reliance on volatile oil and gas prices while walking firmly towards net zero. The exploitation of national resources is a necessary evil in the short term, but undoubtedly accelerating the introduction of clean energy is the right way forward.
“However, these projects cannot be delivered quickly and at a time of skyrocketing energy costs and myriad other financial burdens on businesses, the industry is in desperate need of urgent action from the part of the government to reduce energy prices in the short term.
“Make UK has already called for a reduction in the price of carbon via the cost control mechanism within the UK ETS, the removal of the additional carbon price support levy that only UK customers pay and the government is considering scrapping the climate change tax – all of which would reduce energy costs now.
“While the energy-intensive industries energy offset program is welcome, it still fails to help the bulk of the sector. In addition, small businesses are desperate to implement low-carbon measures , but have their hands tied by current costs. The manufacturing industry has a key role to play in this transition and is ready to do so. But it will need support to unlock its full potential and remove all barriers to enable it to invest in switching to clean energy sources.
Anthony Ainsworth, COO at npower Business Solutions, said: “Clearly any increase in locally generated electricity from low carbon sources is a welcome move to help the UK become more independent on the energy plan, less carbon-intensive and more resilient in the medium and long term.
“However, for companies – which are currently struggling with short-term cash flow problems and high bills caused by volatility in the wholesale market – today’s energy security strategy looks like a missed opportunity.
“For example, helping companies reduce their energy consumption through more innovative efficiency solutions is a real ‘no regrets’ action that could be taken. These can be implemented quickly and would result in immediate savings in both the bottom line and decarbonization efforts.
“Similarly, incentivizing businesses to become more self-sufficient through on-site renewable energy generation is a win-win solution. This would protect companies from market volatility and help them decarbonize. Additionally, businesses with on-site assets can provide a much-needed power source during times of high demand.
“Overall, unfortunately, today’s announcement does little to help companies address the short-term issues they currently face.”
Katherine Bennett, CEO of HVMC, said: “The government’s plan to update the UK’s energy strategy is to be applauded. It is right that policymakers and industry have made a strong commitment to energy independence in light of the tragic events in Ukraine.
“Securing our energy supply while reducing carbon emissions is one of the great challenges of our time. We need to make progress in transitioning to low-carbon electricity generation now. We need energy from sources that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. We need innovative and bold manufacturing solutions.
“The High Value Manufacturing Catapult and our centers, including Nuclear AMRC, are ready to help. Public investment in nuclear power, as well as hydrogen and renewables such as offshore wind, will be key to the journey to net zero and encourage industrial confidence to deliver.
Johnathan Dudley, Partner and Head of Manufacturing at Crowe, said: “Spiking energy costs are a huge challenge for the manufacturing industry. It’s not just a short-term cash flow problem, it’s about the competitiveness and survival of UK manufacturing. There is a very real risk that factories will be forced to close as they become unviable with too high energy prices.
“Yet it seems that manufacturing has been forgotten in this strategy. Companies receive no support with immediate costs and no incentive to invest in the long term. As governments in other countries step in with billions worth of support packages to prop up businesses during the energy crisis, we risk destroying our manufacturing base and seeing it go overseas.
“We need a balanced and affordable approach from government that supports UK industry in the short term and incentivizes investment for the future. It means grants as well as loans and it means listening a lot more to industry to inform policy making.
“Finally, it’s not good to be ‘clean’, while importing products from countries that are not. It only creates poverty at home while shifting the problem elsewhere. As well as prioritizing local electricity, we must prioritize local businesses and UK workers when it comes to making and building the energy infrastructure needed to deliver more home electricity.
Simon Oscroft, co-founder of green energy provider, So Energy, said: “As a 100% renewable electricity provider, So Energy welcomes any focus in the government’s energy security strategy to strengthen our supply. in green energy as a positive step forward.
“However, today’s strategy does nothing to help the millions of households thrown into fuel poverty on April 1 after the price cap was raised by £700 a year. The municipal tax refund scheme announced by the Chancellor in February only covers a fifth of this increased bill and therefore more immediate support is needed. This new strategy also does not offer support to the remaining energy suppliers in the market, who have all paid and will continue to pay the bill for increasingly loss-making tariffs between now and the next revision of the price cap. Improving the energy efficiency of the home is another cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption, reduce customer bills and gain greater energy independence, but there is also nothing in the current strategy.
“The cost of living crisis and associated projections for the October price cap increase have worsened significantly since the announcement of the February package. With nothing to address this issue in today’s strategy, we urge the government to come up with additional relief measures in the coming weeks.