Soaring energy prices are helping to create a cost-of-living crisis, which hasn’t been far from front pages over the winter. Coupled with this, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and concerns about security of supply have only added to public concern and this perfect storm has pushed the need for clean energy development back to the top of the government’s agenda. As a result, everyone is now eagerly await the release of the government’s energy and security strategy. Ahead of its publication the Independent has this week reported on the results of a recent poll, which shows that there is strong public support for increased renewables.
According to media reports, there is an expectation that, alongside other announcements, there may be increased targets for offshore and onshore wind, changes to the planning regime to remove barriers to wind in England (whilst still ensuring communities have a meaningful say) and potentially amendments to the AR4 parameters. Recent industry research shows that the UK can more than double its total onshore wind capacity from 14 gigawatts now to 30 gigawatts by 2030 and this would add £45bn to the economy.
However, in order for the strategy to lead to increased deployment of renewables at the rate required, the strategy also needs to focus on some of the key underlying issues that are currently delaying or curtailing development. These include grid constraints, network charging and forward-looking regulation for our energy system that focuses on long-term market design and the transformation away from fossil fuels.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary, recently said on Twitter: “This is no longer about tackling climate change or reaching net-zero targets. Ensuring the UK’s clean energy independence is a matter of national security. Putin can set the price of gas, but he can’t directly control the price of renewables and nuclear we generate in the UK.”
A key enabler for this change will be ensuring there are sufficient details in the energy and security strategy alongside targets and high-level policy pronouncements.
Ahead of the government’s long-awaited energy and security strategy, which will set out how the government aims to keep the lights on while also hitting its legally binding net zero by 2050 deadline, almost two-thirds – 61 per cent – of people said they believed renewables were the most important solution.