The Government’s energy policy needs a radical change in direction. Following the demise of the Wylfa and Moorside nuclear power projects, carbon reduction deadlines are looming under the Climate Change Act. Public demand is also growing for bolder UK climate leadership to deliver on the Paris Agreement and ‘net zero’ emissions.
Business Secretary Greg Clark acknowledged in the House of Commons on 17th January 2019 that the cost of renewable technologies has dramatically fallen while nuclear costs have risen. As such, nuclear is being outcompeted and it is clear there is no other plausible pathway to deliver a heavily decarbonised power sector by 2030 than through renewables doing the heavy lifting.
Added to this, electrification of heat and transport needs to happen at a much faster pace – including a phaseout of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. This is necessary to deliver on legally mandated carbon commitments and ensure the Government steps up to the moral urgency of climate change. This adds to the demand for high volumes of renewable power, coupled with an evolution of the power grid through increased interconnection, demand response, smart grid and storage to ensure security and flexibility.
It is therefore clear that large volumes of renewables need to be built in the 2020s to meet legally binding carbon targets and maintain the UK’s global climate leadership. This means unlocking onshore wind and solar, whilst boosting offshore wind to a much greater degree than currently planned in the Offshore Wind Sector Deal. These technologies will need to deliver the majority of low carbon power by 2030. Current ambition in all of these sectors is severely lacking; wind and solar generation needs to be tripled over the next decade from 2020 levels.