UK government publishes Energy White Paper

14th December 2020

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Karen Henderson

The UK government has today set out how it will support a “decisive and permanent“ shift away from fossil fuels and deliver net-zero emissions by 2050 in its long-awaited Energy White Paper.

The paper outlines how decarbonising the energy system will support 220,000 jobs over the next 10 years, delivering large infrastructure projects for nuclear and hydrogen power and carbon capture and storage, as well as a major programme of retrofitting homes.

It is hoped that this will cut UK emissions by 230 million metric tonnes – equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road – while slashing energy bills for consumers.

The document also claims that plans for generating emission-free electricity will see the UK enjoy “overwhelmingly decarbonised power“ in the 2030s.

“Today's plan establishes a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources that will put our country at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution,“ said business and energy secretary Alok Sharma.

“Through a major programme of investment and reform, we are determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come.“

Investing £1bn in “state-of-the-art“ carbon capture and storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 is among the proposals unveiled today, as well as £240m for a new net-zero 'Hydrogen Fund'.

There are also plans to boost competition in the energy retail market by tackling the 'loyalty penalty' – where long-standing customers pay more than new ones – and by providing at least £6.7bn in support to the fuel poor and most vulnerable over the next six years.

Moreover, the government confirmed that it is to enter negotiations with EDF in relation to the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, as it considers options to enable investment in at least one nuclear power station by the end of this parliament.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said that businesses “stand ready deliver the investment and innovation needed“ to turn these ambitions into reality.

“The proposals outlined in the Energy White Paper will give business further confidence to deliver new infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging, renewable power generation and low-carbon upgrades to people's homes,“ she added.

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