UK Energy Strategy Published
8 April 2022 • Sarah Medcraf
The strategy, which aims to boost UK energy independence and tackle rising prices, also includes plans to increase wind, hydrogen and solar production.
Consumers are facing soaring energy bills after the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushed gas prices even higher.
Under the UK government's new plans, up to 95% of the UK's electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030.
It outlines, for example, the hope of producing up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of energy through offshore wind farms, which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) said would be more than enough to power every home in the UK.
The government's energy strategy has been much-delayed, with one of the big points of contention reported to have been the construction of onshore wind turbines.
Key points of the new energy strategy:
- Nuclear - The government plans to reduce the UK's reliance on oil and gas by building as many as eight new nuclear reactors, including two at Sizewell in Suffolk. A new body will oversee the delivery of the new plants.
- Wind - The government aims to reform planning laws to speed up approvals for new offshore wind farms. For onshore wind farms it wants to develop partnerships with "supportive communities" who want to host turbines in exchange for guaranteed cheaper energy bills.
- Hydrogen - Targets for hydrogen production are being doubled to help provide cleaner energy for industry as well as for power, transport and potentially heating.
- Solar - The government will consider reforming rules for installing solar panels on homes and commercial buildings to help increase the current solar capacity by up to five times by 2035.
- Oil and gas - A new licensing round for North Sea projects is being launched in the summer on the basis that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than doing so abroad.
- Heat pumps - There will be a £30m "heat pump investment accelerator competition" to make British heat pumps which reduce demand for gas.
No new nuclear power stations will be built in Scotland as part of the UK government's plans to boost energy independence, it has been confirmed.
UK ministers want to install eight new reactors at existing sites to help reduce reliance on oil and gas.
But the Scottish government is opposed to nuclear energy, and could block any new developments via planning powers.
Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said there were "no plans to impose nuclear reactors in Scotland" in future.
His Scottish counterpart Michael Matheson said the focus should instead be on accelerating the decarbonisation of the network and ramping up investment in energy efficiency.