UK Government’s Energy White Paper outlines emission reduction plans

Cleaning up the UK’s energy system, supporting 220,000 new jobs, and keeping bills down are among the key goals of the UK Government’s Energy White Paper.

Building on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the Energy White Paper sets out the specific steps the government will take over the next 10 years to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings by 230 million tonnes – equivalent to removing 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently.

The government said it will put affordability at the heart of the UK’s shift away from fossil fuels by boosting competition in the energy retail market to tackle the ‘loyalty penalty’, which sees longstanding customers paying more than new ones, and providing at least £6.7 billion (€7.36 billion) in support to the ‘fuel poor’ and most vulnerable over the next six years.

Core parts of the Energy White Paper include:

  • Supporting up to 22,000 jobs over the next decade, including long-term jobs in major infrastructure projects for power generation, carbon capture and storage and hydrogen, as well as a major programme of retrofitting homes for improved energy efficiency and clean heat

  • Transforming the UK’s energy system so it is fit for a net-zero economy, changing how homes are heated and how people travel, doubling electricity use, and harnessing renewable energy supplies

  • Keeping bills affordable for consumers by making the energy retail market ‘truly competitive’

  • Generating emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see the UK have overwhelmingly decarbonised power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of the UK’s transition to a net-zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat

  • Establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme from 1 January to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the Transition Period

  • 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.

  • Delivering 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1 GW of floating wind, enough to power every home in the country, while attracting new offshore wind manufacturers to the UK

  • Investing £1 billion (€1.09 billion) in state-of-the-art carbon capture and storage in four industrial clusters by 2030. 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 the UK’s industrial heartlands

  • Kick-starting the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5 GW of production by 2030, backed by a new £240 million (263 million) net-zero Hydrogen Fund

  • Investing £1.3 billion (€1.43 billion) to accelerate the rollout of electric vehicle charge points in homes, streets, and on motorways, as well as up to £1 billion (€1.09 billion) to support the electrification of cars

  • Supporting the lowest paid with their bills through a £6.7 billion (€7.36 billion) package of measures that could save families in old, inefficient homes up to £400 (€440). This includes extending the Warm Home Discount Scheme to 2026 to cover an additional 750,000 households and giving eligible households £150 (€165) off their electricity bills each winter. The Green Homes Grant has been extended for a further year.

  • Moving away from fossil fuel boilers. By the mid-2030s, the government expects all newly installed heating systems to be low-carbon or to be appliances that can be converted to a clean fuel supply

  • Supporting North Sea oil and gas transition for the people and communities most affected by the move away from oil and gas production, ensuring sector expertise can be drawn on in developing carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production to provide new green jobs.

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said: “I’m delighted that over the coming year the government will establish the role of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in reducing emissions. The Energy White Paper rightly recognises negative emissions and sustainable biomass as a vital technology to achieve net zero by 2050.

"Next year will be critical to build on the momentum of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan. At Drax, we’re ready to invest in and deliver BECCS at our power station in North Yorkshire as well as in expanding our pumped storage at our hydro plant at Cruachan in Scotland. This will help meet net-zero, while creating jobs, skills and demonstrating global leadership at COP26.”

"With UK electricity consumption set to double by 2050, we welcome the UK Government’s latest plan to target net-zero generation," commented Gavin Graveson, executive vice-president at Veolia UK & Ireland.

“By addressing industrial, commercial, and domestic energy efficiency, we already have the proven ways to make major cuts in emissions today and are ready to apply the emerging new technologies to help achieve the target ahead of 2050.

“Through embracing a true circular economy and expanding recycling further we can also preserve vital natural resources and cut the carbon impact.

“We need to act today. We can all go further, and by having a bold vision we can reap the environmental and financial benefits zero-carbon can bring.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said: “We welcome the continued commitment to renewables and the green transition, especially the recognition that energy efficiency must be prioritised alongside new capacity.

“While there is little new on the renewables side, the commitment to electric vehicle funding, and recognition of biomass as a ‘strategic sector’, is welcome as is certainty on the successor ETS scheme for the UK.

“This White Paper, though, comes after the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget recommendations for the need to bend the Green House Emissions ‘curve’ sooner rather than later and the need to accelerate our low-carbon transition.

“Ideally, we would have seen more on the government’s plans for decarbonising the hard-to-treat heat and transport sector, so today’s announcement should be seen as another step on the journey rather than a be all and end all publication.”

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