The government is pursuing a “balanced approach” to net zero, energy and clean growth minister Kwasi Kwarteng has said, with Westminster keen to avoid picking winners at this early stage.
Speaking at today’s BNEF Summit in London, Kwarteng said it would be “foolhardy” for the government to pin its hope “exactly” on how it expects to meet its net zero obligations with the target still some 30 years away.
“30 years out… it’s impossible to be very prescriptive,” the minister said, stating that the government would be remaining “very open minded” regarding the technologies necessary to “get where we want to be”.
Kwarteng was, however, open in his advocacy of the role storage technologies and interconnectors stand to play. Storage technologies, both Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) and batteries would be “essential” to meeting any net zero target, Kwarteng said, while stating his expectation that the share of power demand met by interconnectors with Europe to grow beyond the 5% it currently holds.
Kwarteng also spoke of the continuing alignment between the green and economical agendas when it comes to net zero. While the two had been regarded as conflicting in the past – as some in the sector argued that the government could not achieve deep decarbonisation without stymying economic growth – it was now clear both can be achieved simultaneously.
One particular example that the minister pointed to was on the east coast of the UK, which he said had been “transformed” after areas such as Grimsby, Hull and Great Yarmouth became destinations of investment for the offshore wind sector, creating jobs and other societal benefits.
But, aside from mentioning both the upcoming energy white paper and national infrastructure strategy documents in passing, there was no specific update from the minister as to when the energy sector may receive more of a steer from government on the direction of travel.
Last week energy secretary Andrea Leadsom revealed that the much-anticipated energy white paper would finally be released in Q1 2020 having originally been slated for release in June this year.
Kwarteng only stood by that publication schedule when pressed earlier today, offering no further update.