The government's energy white paper was released yesterday (15 December), detailing its plans to support decarbonisation across the economy.
It covers pledges such as a new Call for Evidence on how the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme could evolve past 2021, plans for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), long-duration storage and commitments to implement all of the Energy Data Taskforce’s recommendations.
Here, the energy industry has its say on the white paper:
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA):
“While there is little new on the renewables side, the commitment to EV funding, and recognition of biomass as a ‘strategic sector’ is welcome as is certainty on the successor ETS scheme for the UK.
“This white paper, though, comes after the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon budget recommendations for the need to bend the Green House Emissions ‘curve’ sooner rather than later and the need to accelerate our low carbon transition.
“Ideally, we would have seen more on the government’s plans for decarbonising the hard-to-treat heat and transport sector, so today’s announcement should be seen as another step on the journey rather than a be all and end all publication.”
Hugh McNeal, chief executive at RenewableUK:
"Today’s white paper provides greater clarity to the companies investing across the UK to deliver our net zero emissions target. Wind and renewable energy will be at the centre of our future energy system, providing the clean electricity and green hydrogen we need to decarbonise our economy.
“The next generation of onshore and offshore wind farms will bring tens of billions of pounds of investment to support a green recovery and create thousands of jobs across the country as we transition away from fossil fuels. To meet the goals set out in the white paper, it’s clear that we have to double-down on renewables as the main source of energy for our homes, transport and industry."
Graham Halladay, operations director at Western Power Distribution:
"The energy white paper is a welcome step forward, giving the industry greater certainty on the government’s aims for energy. This will allow the industry to move forward with confidence to make long-term investment decisions that will create jobs while developing the network capacity and flexibility needed to deliver net zero by 2050.
“With regards to the mass adoption of electric vehicles, the rollout of charge points across the UK will be vital to ensuring drivers have the confidence to make the switch over to EVs before the ban on new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect.
“The industry is making great strides in developing and testing innovative new technology that utilises the existing electricity grid and build new capacity in the most efficient way to meet this growing demand.”
Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive at Energy UK:
“Today’s white paper reveals the scale and opportunity of the energy transition, with aims in it to at least double the amount of clean electricity produced today, start making our homes warmer and greener, and help the switch to electric vehicles.
“The energy industry will do our bit to innovate, supporting our customers so that they benefit from the net zero transition and investing in the green infrastructure we need – but clear policies from government help us do that. This is what the white paper – and other publications over the next year – should provide."
Ben Spry, head of flexibility services at npower Business Solutions:
“Given the anticipation around its publication, today’s energy white paper had to be ambitious and add some crucial ‘meat on the bones’ of the recent Ten Point Plan, particularly in terms of the delivery of transformative technologies such as hydrogen and CCUS as well as the huge increase of renewable generation needed to decarbonise the power sector and wider industry.
“By and large, it delivers. It is a vital piece of the net zero jigsaw to turn ‘climate ambition into climate action’ and for many business energy users, the white paper should provide them with more confidence to invest in their own road to net zero through green infrastructure such as on-site renewable generation and EV charging, as well as procuring energy from renewable sources.
“All in all, there is a lot to welcome, and we look forward to taking part in further consultations to support business energy users in 2021."
David Smith, chief executive at Energy Networks Association:
“Together with Prime Minister's Ten Point Plan, the Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget and now the energy white paper, we have clear policy around how the UK can decarbonise. More digitalisation and smarter electricity systems, more renewable generation and a shift to hydrogen and biomethane will help support jobs while slashing emissions from the way we heat our homes, power businesses and travel round the country.
"At the heart of this transition are the energy networks, which make up the backbone of our energy system and support over 30,000 jobs directly, and thousands more up and down the country through supply chains. We’re working harder than ever to support the fundamental shifts needed to deliver a system fit for the future energy consumer and we look forward to continuing to work with the UK and devolved governments to support a net zero future.”
Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry:
“The energy white paper is an important next step in our plans to reach our net zero emissions target. Action is needed now, and the welcome focus on job creation around the country, developing sustainable low-carbon industries, and ensuring the transition is fair for consumers will all help us achieve our ambitious climate goals.
“Business stands ready to deliver the investment and innovation needed to turn ambition into reality, and the proposals outlined in the energy white paper will give business further confidence to deliver new infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging, renewable power generation and low-carbon upgrades to people’s homes.”
Steve Scrimshaw, vice president, Siemens Energy UK&I:
“This long-awaited document provides further clarity on how the energy sector will need to adapt to meet the net zero challenge. Having a clean, secure and stable electricity system will drive decarbonisation in many other sectors and it is right to use a mix of technologies to achieve it.
"As we move away from fossil fuels, innovation and investment in new technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture will be vital to securing jobs and economic growth, through the creation of new roles as well as reskilling the current workforce. The steps and policy outlined in the white paper will give the UK’s energy supply chain the confidence to invest in these technologies to deliver net zero.”
Kyle Martin, head of market insight at LCP:
“The energy white paper sets out policies for addressing some of the biggest challenges standing in the way of achieving net zero. The proposals for the power sector will allow big infrastructure projects such as new nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen production facilities and renewable generation to be developed and, most importantly, to attract private finance. LCP has estimated that to meet net zero by 2050 a total of £350 billion of investment will be required across power generation capacity alone. As such, it is crucial that the market framework delivers this investment at lowest cost.
“This investment in power assets needs to be done in conjunction with building out network capacity to transport energy around the country to where it is needed. Since January 1 2020, Great Britain has turned down enough wind power to have powered over 800,000 homes for the whole year. Achieving net zero will mean ensuring we can use and store the renewable power we generate, and this will require co-ordination between Ofgem and BEIS to deliver whole system solutions.”