The UK and US governments have signed a new energy agreement to bolster energy security and accelerate the transition to renewables.
Dubbed the “UK-US Energy Security and Affordability Partnership”, the bi-national agreement will see the two nations strive to reduce the global dependency on Russian imported fossil fuels by scaling renewable generation and nuclear energy.
In doing so, the two governments believe sufficient energy generation will be created in a bid to wean the countries off imported fossil fuels. This will both increase energy security concerns surrounding energy whilst also contributing to the widescale decarbonisation of the energy systems in both countries.
Energy security was thrust into the global spotlight, particularly in Europe, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw fossil fuel imports ceased from the aggressor. The result of this saw wholesale gas prices skyrocket with the industry having already seen strain from the previous winter period.
As a result, the UK government placed energy security as a priority and released its anticipated British Energy Security Strategy in April. This saw several targets set for renewable and nuclear generation. Despite this, the strategy was met with criticism from the industry with it labelled as a “missed opportunity”.
The partnership will additionally look to explore potential options to develop clean hydrogen in the UK in a bid to boost energy security measures. The clean energy carrier is touted as a diverse technology that could be instrumental in playing a complementary role in the decarbonisation of various hard-to-abate sectors within UK industry.
“Together the UK and US will ensure the global price of energy and the security of our national supply can never again be manipulated by the whims of a failing regime,” said Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister.
“We have the natural resources, industry and innovative thinking we need to create a better, freer system and accelerate the clean energy transition. This partnership will bring down prices for British consumers and help end Europe’s dependence on Russian energy once and for all.”
The partnership will build on the work of the UK-US Strategic Energy Dialogue led by energy ministers, with a focus on gas supply, energy efficiency, civil nuclear and clean energy.
On civil nuclear, the partnership will promote nuclear energy as a safe and reliable part of the clean energy transition. This includes deepening global collaboration on nuclear fuels and advanced nuclear technologies.
The UK government has been increasing its funding within the nuclear space with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) having committed over £120 million to spearhead nuclear fusion innovation in late November. It also set a target of up to 24GW of nuclear energy generation by 2050.
Nuclear energy forms part of the government’s long-term plans to harness new technologies to build what it described as a “strong, home-grown energy sector” that reduces reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices.
Despite its promising aspects, nuclear plants take years to develop and thus many indicate that the benefits from investing in the creation of nuclear plants will not be of benefit to the short-term future.