Strategy to Reinforce UK Energy Supply

The Energy Secretary, Claire Coutinho, and Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, have set out their actions to attempt to futureproof the country’s energy security. Find out more below:

In a press release from the government, Claire Coutinho has set out what is described as ‘common-sense action’ to help provide greater security for the UK’s energy as it transitions to net-zero. The central tenet of this action is the building of new gas power stations, particularly for days when the weather doesn’t power up renewables. The government argues that their approach will allow the UK to reach net-zero in a sustainable and pragmatic manner, whilst removing reliance on foreign dictators such as Putin. The document notes that the Climate Change Committee has itself acknowledged the need for continued unabated gas generation into the 2030s as a back-up for energy security and reducing costs.

Alongside the building of new gas power stations, Coutinho will also look to boost gas power capacity through the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements. The government will look to broaden existing laws requiring gas plants to be built net-zero ready and able to convert low-carbon alternatives in the future. Moreover, there will be requirements for these gas power plants to run less frequently as the UK continues to roll out renewables and increased reliance on electricity. The government highlights that this year it registered its one-millionth EV and that applications to the electric heat-pump scheme are up 50%, whilst also building the five largest operational offshore wind farms in the world. Combined these transitions are allowing the UK to phase-out coal generation.

Nevertheless, the government warns that although renewable energy will increase, they aren’t failsafe and future supply can only be based on estimations, it is for these reasons why the government argue that flexible power-generation is needed. The proposals also include a plan to reduce people’s bills across the country by allowing wholesale prices to match supply and demand, with much of the UK’s energy located away from areas of high demand. It is argued that the reforms could save households £45 off their yearly energy bill.

Critics have pointed out that that government’s plans for the new gas-fired power stations do not include measures for climate change-limiting carbon capture and could potentially threaten legally binding commitments for net-zero by 2050. The Green Alliance argues that the plan ‘flies in the face’ of the government’s promises and will make bills increase for the public in the long-run.