What we need to see in the UK’s Energy Security Strategy
In anticipation of the Energy Security Strategy being announced tomorrow, we have some core proposals. Outlined here by Susannah Wood, VP Public Affairs.
- Improving energy efficiency is an obvious measure. It’s inexpensive and would make a meaningful difference to large numbers of hard-hit bill payers in advance of next winter.
- Whilst longer-term offshore wind projects are developed, focus should be given to onshore renewables; the quickest and cheapest means to wean us off expensive fossil gas for good. Onshore wind in England is important, but too much attention is going to this part of the debate. Scotland and Wales have the best wind resource in Europe so let’s speed up what’s already in the pipeline with the most efficient technologies available – without compromise to community engagement or environmental impact. Priority should be to reduce the administrative elements of planning, ringfence bigger teams and resource, and make grid costs fairer.
- It’s great to hear government support for solar. Solar is cheap, scalable, and quick to deploy. We can deploy more and increase the pace – again with no compromise to community engagement and environmental impact. We can do this by increasing the size at which local authorities can approve projects, and by improving sequencing, such as moving archaeological inspections to post planning rather than pre planning.
We should have a common sense approach to use of land; a 10 fold increase in solar farms would still not equate to the amount of land used for golf and would have a negligible impact on agricultural output. Even setting aside health, climate or ideological considerations, it would be better to cut down our meat consumption – the combined land area for rearing beef and lamb for UK consumption alone, is larger than the land mass of the UK itself.
- More renewables means increased flexibility requiring interconnection, demand side response and battery storage. Deployment of storage is racing ahead in the UK versus other countries, but it’s still not at the pace needed to reduce dependency on gas quickly.
- Let’s put some pace behind the hydrogen strategy and give more attention to green hydrogen rather than blue. Ringfence an ambitious green target. Keep support mechanisms simple for smaller green hydrogen projects, such as the ROC/FiT schemes. This is an area where mid-sized onshore wind in England could really make a difference.
- And for transport, let’s switch focus to support zero emission vehicles instead of marginal incremental reductions via increased renewable fuel blending.