A new strategy on how the UK will produce more of its own energy is due to be announced this week after several delays.
The government has confirmed that it will release the “Energy Security Strategy” on Thursday to help tackle soaring energy prices and reduce dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Boris Johnson promised the plan in ‘days’ on March 9 but the date was pushed back – it is believed the Treasury was unhappy with the long-term costs involved, particularly with nuclear options.
Although the full plan has yet to be released, ministers have revealed some of the proposals.
But critics said the government was failing to address some key issues.
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What do we know about plans?
The government has already announced part of the plans to tackle soaring costs, with the average family’s energy bills rising by 54%.
As wholesale energy prices have risen, the energy price cap has been raised to £1,971 and is expected to rise again in October to take average household bills to around £2,300.
To try to cushion the blow, the government is offering a £200 rebate on all household bills from October, which will be repaid over five years.
And AD council strip homes will get a £150 cut on their council tax bill this month.
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Renewables will play an important role in the plan, especially wind farms.
The offshore wind generation target is set to be boosted, with more offshore farms and a possible increase to the current target of generating 40GW – 25% of the UK’s power – by 2030 from wind.
And the current strict planning rules for onshore wind farms are set to be relaxed, despite the Cabinet split on the issue.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng reportedly seeks to double onshore wind power by 2030 and triple it by 2035, but Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “I am not in favor of a big increase in onshore wind farms.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said onshore turbines should be built where they are “locally supported”. The Prime Minister, however, appears to have shifted his support to offshore wind due to onshore concerns from his colleagues.
Solar power should be part of the plan, with suggestions for tax incentives and grants to help lower costs in poorer neighborhoods. However, the wind should be more of a focus.
Earlier this month, Mr Johnson wrote: “We will do more to harness the potential of solar power. Even in this country, solar power is remarkably cheap and efficient.
“We are going to modernize our grid and our distribution networks.”
There will also be a focus on nuclear power, with the government planning to draw up more detailed plans for building smaller modular reactors that take less time to build.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the Sunday Telegraph a few days ago that up to seven new nuclear power stations could be built by 2050.
On Thursday, the government is expected to pledge to support the construction of at least two new large-scale nuclear power plants by 2030, in addition to small modular reactors.
Oil and gas from the North Sea and the Middle East
Ministers are also expected to announce a plan to wean the UK off oil and gas from Russia as part of an interim plan to completely reduce dependence on hydrocarbons.
They will seek to expand the UK’s own gas and oil supplies by pumping more from the North Sea, with the issuance of licenses for six new projects to be showcased.
And MPs expect to hear the outcome of ministers’ recent talks with Middle Eastern suppliers such as Saudi Arabia. Labor has accused the government of going “cap in hand” to dictators over this approach.
A new energy task force is set to be announced, with UK fossil fuel production as its main mission.
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The government made a dramatic U-turn in its stance on hydraulic fracturing in 2019, when it imposed a moratorium on the practice of pumping water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to fracture rock shale and release trapped oil and gas.
His decision came after a new scientific study warned that ‘unacceptable’ consequences for people living near fracking sites could not be ruled out.
But fracking has reared its head again as the government tries to secure its own supplies and cut energy bills, with the PM expressing support for halting plans to seal the UK’s two remaining wells. United.
On Monday, Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg downplayed earthquake risks from fracking and suggested that “the last drop” of oil should be extracted from the North Sea.
Downing Street appeared not to rule out fracking as it said the moratorium ‘still remains in place’ but said the war in Ukraine means the government must ‘consider all possible options to improve the national energy supply’ .
However, Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “Hydraulic fracturing is not the answer to short-term problems.”
The Prime Minister has pledged to end coal-fired power generation by October 2024, but The Times reported that Number 10 is in talks with EDF to assess whether its Nottinghamshire power station, which is due to close in September, could extend its operations.
Are there any other issues the government could look into?
Labor said the government should also tackle insulation as a way to save energy and cut bills, but the Treasury and other departments ruled out the possibility.
The opposition party said it would retrofit 19 million homes to make them warm, energy efficient and cheaper to heat if it were in power.
Shadow Environment Secretary Jim McMahon says the Tories are ‘allowing taxpayers to bear the brunt of spiraling costs’ after changes to energy efficiency programs in 2013 saw installations plummet by 92 % that year, according to a Carbon Brief report.
Labor and the Lib Dems have proposed a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies so their large profits can be used to ease the energy bills of vulnerable people.
However, the government ruled out this possibility as it said it would prevent companies from investing and that these oil and gas companies employ thousands of people in the UK and support thousands more UK jobs.
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