Prime Minister Boris Johnson has released his eagerly awaited Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial revolution, setting out pledges to create 250,000 jobs.
The plan covers offshore wind, carbon capture and storage (CCS), heat pumps, hydrogen, and electric vehicles (EVs), including bringing forwards the ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to 2030.
Johnson said that although 2020 had take “a very different path to the one we expected”, the government hadn’t lost sight of its ambitious plans to “level up across the country”.
“My Ten Point Plan will create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050.
“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”
Many in the energy sector have welcomed the plan, with Frank Gordon, head of Policy at the REA calling it “a major day for the building of green industries in the UK.”
But there is also concern that policies are reiterations of previous pledges, and have some notable absences in particular solar and storage.
Ban of ICE vehicles brought forwards to 2030
In a long anticipated move, Johnson confirmed that the ban of the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles will be brought forwards to 2030, ten years earlier than the original date.
The move follows extensive consultation with car manufacturers and sellers, and includes the caveat that the sale of hybrid cars and vans will still by allowed up till 2035. The government had previously moved the ban of all petrol and diesel cars, including hybrids, from 2040 to 2035.
Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles said this was a “landmark moment” for the UK.
“Tesla has transformed the market with brilliant electric cars. As others race to catch up, it's an important signal to the market that the UK will no longer welcome dirty diesels and petrol cars from 2030 - in turn, creating thousands of green jobs while saving motorists billions of pounds, and showing the UK's leadership position in our low carbon future.”
To support the transition, the Prime Minister announced £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of chargepoints for EVs in homes, streets and motorways across England.
Additionally, there will be £582 million in grants available for buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles to incentivise the uptake of EVs. And nearly £500 million will be spent up to 2025 to develop and scale up production of batteries. This forms part of the government’s £1 billion commitment to boosting manufacturing bases such as the Midlands and North East.
A consultation will be undertaken to phase out new diesel HGVs, to place the UK in the “vanguard of zero emission freight.” No date has yet been set for this however.
Ambitious heat pump target of 600,000 a year
Another key area to receive support from the ten point plan is making homes, schools and hospitals ‘greener, warmer and more energy efficient’.
In particular, this will see the UK target 600,000 heat pumps being installed every year 2028. This is a particularly big step up, given research that suggested it will take the UK 700 years to move to a low carbon heating system at the speed it has been moving. The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) announced an inquiry into heat pumps in response to the damning research.
Targeting 600,000 heat pump installs will help to create 50,000 jobs by 2030, Johnson said. The government will invest £1 billion in the next year to make homes and public buildings more efficient.
Bean Beanland of the Heat Pump Federation said: “The PM’s statement is excellent news for the heat pump sector. However, a clear and stable medium to long-term policy framework from the Government will be required to ensure that private investment funds, which we know to be available, can be drawn into the industry.
“The heavy lifting must start now to ramp up the manufacture of heat pumps in the UK and their increased deployment in people’s homes up and down the country. Working in partnership with Government, there is also a job to do to communicate the benefits of heat pumps to consumers.”
Additionally, the Green Homes Grant is being extended up a year, allowing more people to access the funding pot for technologies like heat pumps and solar thermal, as well as insulation. This has been welcomed, with the scheme having proven popular, and was set to be oversubscribed with 65% of homeowners interested in taking advantage of it.
Onshore wind, solar and storage remain conspicuously absent
Little was dedicated to the generation of electricity in Johnson’s ten point plan, with the main focus on offshore wind. In October, the Prime Minister announced his intention to have every home in the UK powered by the renewable technology by 2030, quadrupling production to 40GW by 2030.
At the time, he committed £160 million to support the development of a supply chain, adding that the offshore wind sector will be able to support up to 60,000 jobs.
The inclusion in the plan of a number of previously announced pledges drew particular scorn from Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary.
“Only a fraction of the funding announced today is new. We don’t need rebadged funding pots and reheated pledges, but an ambitious plan that meets the scale of the task we are facing and – crucially – creates jobs now.”
Indeed, elements of the carbon capture, EV and hydrogen pledges have also been previously announced by the Conservative party.
Beyond offshore wind, the only generation technology mentioned in the ten point plan was nuclear, with £525 million announced to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants. This includes research and development for advanced modular reactors, which will help to grow the nuclear sector to support 10,000 jobs.
Onshore wind, solar and storage were conspicuously absent from the plan, with Solar Trade Association chief executive Chris Hewett calling the absence “disappointing”.
“Not only is it set to be the cheapest power source for years to come, it also provides good jobs and business opportunities up and down the country.”
“Whilst the Prime Minister might have a blind spot for solar, decisions in the market are likely to outpace his thinking. Today the City of London signed a 15-year deal to fund a new solar park, residential solar installations have already bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, all major utilities are expanding their solar ambitions and costs continue to fall. Delivering net-zero is now as much about economics as it is policy.”
Further support for CCS and hydrogen
Beyond EVs and green heating, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to carbon capture, adding an extra £200 million of funding to create two carbon capture clusters by the mid-2020s, and another two by 2030.
This has been a particular focus for the UK’s government in recent years, with the first CCUS hub – the Zero Carbon Humber cluster – currently awaiting funding allocation. It added that the increased funding will help to support 50,000 jobs in areas like the Humber, Teesside, Merseyside, Grangemouth and Port Talbot.
Hydrogen will receive up to £500 million to trial its use for heating and cooking, starting with a Hydrogen Neighbourhood in 2023, then a Hydrogen Village by 2025, and moving onto a Hydrogen Town before the end of the decade. This will eventually see the equivalent of tens of thousands of homes taking part in the trials, with £240 million dedicated to new hydrogen production facilities.
Clare Jackson, co-lead of the Hydrogen Taskforce Secretariat explained that “hydrogen has the potential to play a key role in decarbonisation across our economy, ranging from transport to domestic heating to industrial processes, this resource is well positioned to play a leading role in the UK’s transition to a cleaner and lower-carbon energy system.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrates that the Government shares our vision for hydrogen, and we remain committed to working with government departments and politicians of all stripes to ensure that this country reaches Net Zero.”
A good start, but gaps remain
While the plan has been largely welcomed by the energy sector, there are some clear gaps remaining. This includes the transmission and distribution system, and the need for increased flexibility to manage growing renewable generation and demand from EV adoption.
Dr Jonathan Marshall, head of Analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said that the points “tick off a number of the major policy decisions needed to get the UK demonstrably back on track to its net zero target.”
“However, gaps still remain. Onshore wind and solar energy remain unsupported, long shots such as modular nuclear power and direct air capture may not pay off, and natural solutions to climate change – planting trees and restoring peat bogs – remain largely overlooked and ignored."
Going forwards, the energy White Paper remains eagerly awaited, as the sector continues to wait for clear details on the roadmap for net zero beyond offshore wind.
The government stated that the ten point plan marks the beginning of the UK’s path to net zero, with further plans set to be released over the net year in the run up to the COP26 climate summit.