Wind, solar, hydrogen, nuclear and efficiency: Labour unveils five-point energy security plan
The Labour Party has outlined a five-point plan for accelerating the end of fossil fuel imports and protecting consumers from rising bills, ahead of the publication of the Government's promised Energy Independence Strategy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday (7 March) that his Government will be launching an Energy Supply Strategy or Energy Independence Strategy by the end of the week, in response to the energy price crisis. While prices have been rising since the latter half of 2021, Russia’s war in Ukraine has exacerbated the challenge.
Johnson hinted that his plans will include measures to increase North Sea oil and gas production – a decision he was recently advised against taking by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) on both economic and emissions grounds.
Several tabloids and broadsheets are also reporting that Johnson is considering a reversal of plans for the UK’s fracking wells to be sealed. This is despite reported opposition from within his own Cabinet, and from communities in Lancashire, where the wells are based. This also goes against CCC advice.
The Labour Party has, therefore, set out its own views on how the UK should approach energy independence and combat skyrocketing bills. Its inclusions make it clear that the opposition is not accepting of the Conservatives’ approach to fracking or offshore oil and gas production.
Labour’s five-point plan begins with a promise to deliver an “energy efficiency revolution”, with the Government subsidising a mass-retrofit programme that would install insulation in 19 million homes this decade.
Johnson’s Government has been under much fire recently over building energy efficiency. Its 2019 General Election manifesto promised £9.2bn of funding for energy efficiency, but schemes worth millions have been launched and scrapped since Johnson became Prime Minister, including the Green Homes Grant.
Organisations to have called on the Government to announce more support for energy efficiency in its response to the energy price crisis include Age UK, the Association for Decentralised Energy and the MCS Charitable Foundation. The Federation of Master Builders and the UK Green Building Council have also voiced support for this approach.
Four energy generation pledges
The other points in Labour’s plan are around increasing domestic clean energy generation. They are:
- Increasing onshore wind capacity to 30GW by 2030, up from 15GW at present
- Increasing offshore wind capacity to at least 75GW by 2035
- Tripling solar generation capacity by 2030
- Increasing investment in tidal power and low-carbon hydrogen
- Confirming the go-ahead for Sizewell C and also increasing support for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)
In comparison, the current Conservative government:
- Has no formal target for increasing onshore wind capacity
- Is targeting 40GW of offshore wind by 2030
- Has no formal target for increasing solar generation capacity
- Has recently begun investing in tidal power again and is targeting 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen generation capacity by 2030
- Recently announced £100m of funding for Sizewell C and has pledged £210m for SMRs. For context, one Rolls-Royce SMR will cost up to £2bn
These commitments may well be updated when the Energy Independence Strategy is published. If not, there are likely to be more updates later this year, as Ministers flesh out plans to deliver on a commitment to end unabated electricity generation from fossil fuels by 2035.
Unveiling Labour’s plans, Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net-Zero Ed Miliband said: “From home energy efficiency to onshore and offshore wind, hydrogen and tidal to solar and nuclear power, it is time to turbocharge the shift to green energy. This is the safest, quickest route to national energy security. In doing so, we can create good jobs and a vibrant economic future for the whole nation.”
Some Labour unions, including Momentum, are calling on the party to go one step further and re-nationalise energy companies.
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3,200 MW Sizewell C will cost 20 billion. 3,200 MW of Rolls-Royce UK SMR will cost 12.25 billion.
When the one and only name of the game is affordable, low-carbon, 24/7/365, safe, dispatchable, energy-secure electricity for all, SMRs are the future of nuclear power in the UK, and should be the basis of the vast majority of our energy needs.
To deliver the same lifetime quantity of electricity as a 1.8 billion R-R UK SMR would require 15 South Kyle-sized onshore wind farms, costing 4.8 billion and delivering a not-fit-for-purpose product requiring a duplicate installed capacity of gas-fired power plant, for when the wind don’t blow.
For offshore wind, the figure is 6.2 billion and the same applies. When the PM gets his 40 GW of offshore wind installed by 2030, we’ll need the extra duplicate generating capacity of gas-fired power plant, because (contrary to what the PM might believe) offshore wind farms are often starved of wind too.
With solar pv ‘parks’, like Cleve Hill, with its 10.7% capacity factor, the cost is insane. 23 Cleve Hill-sized solar parks are needed, costing 10.5 billion. If the CCC get their 22 GW, that would be 63 Cleve Hill-sized solar parks.
The PM may not need to wear a hair shirt in Downing Street, but if he and the CCC get their way, the underprivileged and poorest among us will be needing two or three each.
Spot-on Colin. It seems to be believed in many sectors that wind is cost free and available 24/7/365. It is’nt. Yes, nuclear power is the future, it was even when I joined Harwell in 1954!!!
This wonderful "clean energy" generation, wind and tidal, is all "grab it while you get it".
I would rather have the reliable product!!!