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Labour calls for ‘national sprint’ to green energy in five point strategy

Labour is calling for the solar power target for 2030 to triple. Image: Getty.

Labour is calling for the solar power target for 2030 to triple. Image: Getty.

The Labour Party has unveiled a five point plan to increase energy security in light of the energy crisis.

Announced on Thursday 10 March, as shadow secretary of state for climate change and net zero Ed Miliband visited Manchester, the plan calls for a “national sprint” to build a clean, green, secure energy.

“Energy security is national security. Homegrown, clean power is the cheaper, more secure route to energy security and sovereignty,” said Miliband.

“The Conservatives’ decade of failure on renewables, nuclear, and energy efficiency has left us vulnerable to the global fossil fuel market. The Government said they were ‘cutting the green crap’ but it was a disaster - with bills for working families £2.5bn higher as a result.”

The first point of the plan focuses on energy efficiency and targets providing upgrades to 19 million homes over the next decade through £6 billion in investment annually.

This would help cut energy bills by up to £400, cut gas imports by 15% and cut fuel poverty, Miliband wrote in a twitter thread on the plan.

He also highlighted the drop in the number of houses undergoing energy efficiency improvements over the last ten years, pointing to research from Carbon Brief that suggested in 2012 2.25 million homes received loft or cavity wall insulation, compared with just 72,082 homes in 2021.

The second point of Labour’s plan focuses on the need for more home-grown renewables, calling for onshore wind capacity to double to 30GW by 2030. It criticised the Conservative party’s effective ban on the technology in 2015, when it was controversially removed from the contracts for difference auctions.

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Third, Labour says the government should be going “further and faster” on both fixed and floating offshore wind, almost doubling its targets by 2035.

Other forms of renewables should also be expanded, with the fourth point focused on tripling solar and developing tidal energy. Additionally, there should be further investment in the hydrogen economy.

Finally, the party is calling on the government to end the delay on nuclear power, including confirming Sizewell C and backing Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology.

The plan comes as power prices have become increasingly volatile in recent weeks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Power prices have already been at record highs throughout the start of 2022, on the back of a gas shortage at the end of 2021.

In response to this, Ofgem is increasing the tariff cap by 54% for the summer period, rising to £1,971, it is expected to push 6.3 million households into fuel stress.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a support package including a one-off repayable £200 loan, a £150 council tax rebate and a discretionary fund to help households manage the increase over the summer.

However, with the increased volatility, the cap for the winter period is now predicted to jump by a further 50%, with some analysts expecting it to go over £3,000.

On Monday 7 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he was to unveil a new energy strategy in response to the volatility and surging power prices, and emphasised the importance of renewables and nuclear as well as the potential for further expansion of the UK’s hydrocarbon operations.

The surging gas prices have reawakened the discussion around fracking in the UK, with a group of MPs from the Conservative Net Zero Scrutiny Group publishing an open letter in the Sunday Telegraph calling for the controversial hydraulic fracturing process to be pursued to increase energy security through self-production for example.

Whilst announcing the five point plan, Miliband underlined Labour’s opposition to new fracking.

“Business as usual, or false solutions such as fracking will not bring down bills or achieve security,” said Miliband. “Only Labour can deliver the national energy security plan we need to cut bills, safeguard our energy supply, and provide security for future generations by tackling the climate crisis.”

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