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Industry pushes for ‘substantive move’ from government following Net Zero Strategy

The strategy detailed the government's plans for reaching net zero by 2050. Image: Getty

The strategy detailed the government's plans for reaching net zero by 2050. Image: Getty

Yesterday, the government published its highly anticipated Net Zero Strategy.

It included detail on new EV charging funding, a review of the frequency of Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions and green finance and innovation commitments among other measures to help reach a net zero by 2050.

Here, companies, groups and organisations operating in the energy industry give their reactions:

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA):

While I welcome and support the ambitions laid out in the strategy, I am increasingly concerned by the lack of meaningful progress on a whole range of issues.

We need to see clear routes to market; a holistic circular economy approach; support for a range of clean tech and renewable technologies; best practice standards; tax reform to unlock investment, such as the removal of VAT on renewables and clean tech; and we need more flexibility and investment in the energy system and grid networks.

There is still time for the government to make a substantive move on net zero. The upcoming Spending Review is a chance to deliver the investment needed to make the energy transition a reality.

Dan McGrail, CEO of RenewableUK:

The Net Zero Strategy makes clear that renewables will do the heavy lifting in making our energy system zero carbon. While the government is clearly committed to a world-leading transition to renewable energy, the strategy still leaves some gaps that need to be filled in on how we achieve that.

For example, we need a detailed strategy on how to accelerate the growth of renewable hydrogen as this will provide vital flexibility in a range of areas which have been difficult to decarbonise. We also need to see more ambitious target on floating wind – Ministers should double their current aspiration of 1GW by 2030 to 2GW as a key step towards net zero.

We know what the end goal is, but now we need to focus on the speed of delivery. Rethinking how quickly we can invest in and deliver new infrastructure is crucial, as the heat pumps and EVs of the future will need clean, cheap renewable power to make this a successful and low cost transition.

David Wright, chief engineer at National Grid:

In the lead up to COP26, the UK has certainly raised the bar on ambition to tackle climate change – and we now need to see what this means in practice. Today’s strategy builds on the 10 point plan, the energy white paper and a number of strategies that have been published in recent months, outlining what is needed to deliver a net zero future.

Now the focus needs to be on implementation and investment in infrastructure and technologies. We’re at a critical stage in the journey where net zero is possible with the technologies and opportunities we have today and, in order to deliver on this, we have to accelerate and ramp up efforts to deploy long-term solutions at scale.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of TUC:

The UK can be a world leader in creating good, green jobs. But this strategy is a huge let down.

The government has failed to implement many of the main recommendations of its own green jobs taskforce - just two weeks before it hosts the UN climate change conference.

That’s not the way to show global leadership - it’s self-sabotage.

Today’s spending commitments will do little to address the yawning investment gap needed to get British industry ready for net zero.

Unless ministers do more to future-proof and decarbonise energy-intensive industries, hundreds of thousands of jobs in UK manufacturing and supply chains will be in jeopardy.

We cannot let that happen.

Amit Gudka, founder of Field:

The government's pledge to fully decarbonise our power system by 2035 is a positive step towards reaching net zero in the UK. But progress on the renewable energy infrastructure needed to deliver this ambition is a long way behind where it needs to be.

The government’s Net Zero Strategy highlights the importance of scaling up long-duration electricity storage, but sets out no clear vision for how this will be achieved, despite it being so central to the future success of renewable energy in the UK. We need to massively accelerate the build out of battery storage so we can store renewable energy for when it's needed, creating a more reliable, flexible and green grid.

Mats Persson, partner in EY Parthenon:

The strategy demonstrates clear ambition and puts the UK at the forefront of the global race to net zero. However, the documents reveal two critical questions that have to be addressed sooner rather than later, if the UK is to achieve its carbon ambitions.

Firstly, who pays? The government, businesses and consumers are still largely expecting the others to foot the bill, particularly on the supply side, illustrating the need for more collaboration on innovative public-private commercial models.

Secondly, declining fossil-fuel production is out of sync with the speed at which low carbon energy alternatives are coming online, risking significant supply constraints. While some uncertainty around delivery and technologies, particularly around homes and heavy industry, is inevitable, there needs to be a clearer sense of the right sequencing to anchor the net zero strategy in sound supply- and demand-side economics.

Patrick Reich, co-founder of Bonnet:

The additional £620 million shows the government's real commitment to delivering a net zero carbon economy. Focusing on public charging infrastructure investment and pushing carmakers to sell a certain proportion of EVs every year will help make the country’s transition to these green clean vehicles a reality.

Public charging provision is one of the tallest hurdles to climb before the 2030 ICE ban. Around 40% of households don’t have a private driveway, meaning they would rely on public chargepoints to be able to charge and drive. Investing in this infrastructure is vital, while also making sure charge point providers make it as simple and reliable for drivers to use their service.

This investment is a great step towards making sure charging anxiety for drivers making the switch to EVs reduces. Through investment and a use of innovative technology, consumers will feel comfortable in making this switch.

Sushil Purohit, president of Wärtsilä Energy and EVP at Wärtsilä Corporation:

The strategy rightly puts renewable energy, supported by flexible assets, at the centre of its plan. However, the proposed 40GW of wind capacity by 2035 does not go far enough. Our recent modelling shows the UK must increase wind capacity by three times the current rate to reach 112GW by 2035. This is the most effective way of ensuring that the UK’s electricity is 100% renewable, on time and on budget. We are simply too far into the climate crisis to take chances on potentially uncertain scenarios and risk missing our climate goals.

To future-proof the energy sector and achieve a truly green electricity network by 2035, greater commitments must therefore be made to rapidly deployable technology, including flexible thermal generation and energy storage. While the strategy does outline the importance of energy flexibility, a greater commitment must be made to increasing capacity.


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