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Flexibility, onshore wind and innovation: The industry's hopes for the energy white paper

“The energy white paper is set to be a foundational document for our sector."

“The energy white paper is set to be a foundational document for our sector."

The long awaited energy white paper is still due to be published just before the end of Q1, Baroness Bloomberg has confirmed.

Following a question about the role on nuclear and the plans to increase its capacity during a session in the House of Lords, the Baroness, who has sat on the Science and Technology Select Committee, stated that the white paper will be out by the end of March and will “address some of those concerns".

Originally due in the summer of 2019, the energy white paper is set to outline the roadmap for net zero for the UK’s energy sector.

But with climate change driving the speed of the transition, many are anxious that it sets the right precedent.

Current± spoke to the energy industry, NGOs and political parties to find out what they want from this crucial document.

Daniel Brown, policy manager at the Renewable Energy Association:

“The energy white paper is set to be a foundational document for our sector and expectations are high that it will take some big-picture decisions on the strategic direction of the energy industry. Key high-level asks for us include giving a clear decarbonisation mandate to Ofgem, and introduction of a ‘Net-Zero Treasury Test’.

“For electricity, we’re calling for flexibility to be at the heart of the future power system requiring the creation of deep and transparent markets, plus a definition for energy storage in primary legislation.

“With coal and much nuclear coming offline, the UK is in need of a significant volume of new power generation capacity and the government should be removing the ban on onshore wind, re-opening Pot 1 CfD auctions, supporting a route-to-market for wave and tidal technologies, and creating a favourable regulatory and grid pricing framework for low-cost, decentralised, variable renewable power sources such as solar. The Capacity Market should also be amended with an escalating emissions threshold to push out the threat of dirty diesel generators being contracted.

“Lowering VAT on clean tech should be a priority, following last year’s hike on new domestic solar & battery storage installations. Reducing VAT for battery electric vehicles and electricity sold at public EV charge points would also be prudent policy.

“With ultra-rapid public EV charging beginning to make its mark on the power system, and vehicle deployment ramping up, government should help fund the development of an ultra-rapid network along the strategic motorway system.”

Ross Easton, director of external affairs, at the Energy Networks Association:

“The energy white paper will be one of the most important for decades. There are some big decisions to be made and no time to waste.

“First, there needs to be a clear decision that, when it comes to energy networks, it’s not just about a binary choice between innovation or investment. Investment drives forward innovation, and innovation drives down the cost of investment. It’s vital the government sends the right signal to the regulator in that respect.

“Second, we need a commitment to rolling out the world’s first zero-carbon gas grid. That’s important so we have a whole-system approach that uses our gas and electricity networks working in partnership. If the policy issues we face when it comes to decarbonisation are interconnected, then so must the solutions.”

Councillor Andrew Cooper, energy spokesperson for the Green Party:

“It's clear that the only way we are going to reduce our impact on the climate is if we stop burning fossil fuels, and so the government has to set out a clear path for how we do this.

“The UK has an abundance of the wind, tides, sun and rivers needed to become self-sufficient in energy. If the government wanted to it could make the investments that would unleash this potential.

“We also need to see a huge reduction in energy demand in homes and buildings through a mass insulation and energy efficiency programme.

“We are talking about HS2 levels of investment here, but which will impact many more people by ensuring that everybody has a warm home and cheaper bills.”

Alethea Warrington, renewables campaigner at climate change charity Possible:

“Public concern over climate change is at record levels, along with support for clean, renewable energy. In the year in which we host the COP climate summit, it's time for ambitious action to speed up the UK's transition to carbon-free electricity. The energy white paper provides the government with a golden opportunity to align the UK’s energy policies with public priorities and the need for urgent action to reach our climate targets.”

ClientEarth energy lawyer Charlotte Hanson:

“This white paper must clarify how BEIS and Ofgem will contribute to getting the UK to net zero emissions by 2050 – including meeting vital interim targets. The law must make sure that BEIS and Ofgem are prohibited from making decisions that stop or delay the UK meeting that net zero goal.

“Part of getting to net zero is about a new approach to how we get and manage our energy. Recent decisions by Ofgem have dented incentives for decentralised renewable energy and demand response. So the White Paper should detail the opportunity and business case for demand response and decentralised renewables generation, including how to reduce the entry costs for smaller energy suppliers – for example, the cost of complying with industry codes.”

A spokesperson for Greenpeace:

“The climate emergency, the failure of nuclear power, and dramatic price drops of renewables requires that over the next decade the UK’s energy system must be realigned to deliver approximately 80% power from renewables by 2030.

“The government should urgently rethink providing any further financial or policy support for new nuclear power - including via a Regulated Asset Base model, which increases risks to bill-payers - unless they can provide a clear demonstration of need and value for money, set against the alternatives.

“The energy white paper should thoroughly reappraise the founding assumptions of the UK’s energy policy. The profound changes that have taken place in renewables costs, digitisation, storage and transport technologies, as well as the ever-growing urgency of decarbonisation, must all be properly factored into future decision-making, which would also drive greater investor confidence.

"The white paper should not be a ‘quick and dirty’ internal government review but involve wide consultation on the best way forward.”


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