Little was announced as part of this afternoon’s Spending Review that directly related to the energy sector, despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak stating that the government was “setting the direction” for green energy.
A £4.3 million investment for a new Offshore Wind Enabling Actions Programme was outlined in supporting documents. Together the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the offshore wind industry will utilise the funding to remove barriers to expanding the technology.
“Our capital plans will invest in the greener future we promised,” said Sunak in his speech. “Delivering the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for climate change.”
The expansion of the offshore wind sector has formed a key point of several of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent pledges, including his Ten Point Plan released last week (18 November).
RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Melanie Onn said the “important initiative” will help to maximise opportunities, helping much-need new projects to come to fruition while protecting marine ecosystems.
“A well-resourced planning system is essential to reach the Prime Ministers target of 40GW of offshore wind by 2030. We’re determined to achieve this in an environmentally sensitive way which reflects our values as responsible developers.”
Beyond the support for offshore wind, wider infrastructure commitments were touched upon within Sunak’s speech. Support for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing was reiterated, with the government reiterating its plan to spend nearly £500 million along with other investments designed to further develop the sector, announced alongside the recent change to the ban of petrol and diesel vehicles.
The government is targeting the completion of its first All Electric Bus Town within the 2021-22 financial year, committing £120 million.
Additionally, Sunak’s Spending Review included a broad pledge of £100 billon capital investment for infrastructure through to 2022, ‘to kickstart growth and support jobs’.
Mark Brennan, director and head of Investments at Foresight Capital Management said the funding “represents a definitive commitment to substantial investment across social and economic infrastructure in the UK”.
“Crucially, the government remains firmly committed the role of private capital, and the establishment of a UK Infrastructure Bank in 2021 could be a transformative catalyst for crowding-in private investment.”
While few details were mentioned by the Chancellor, the National Infrastructure Strategy – also released today – provided further details around the £1.3 billion in charging infrastructure to accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles, £1 billion for carbon capture and storage, and £525 million to bring forward large-scale nuclear.