‘Green Day’: the industry responds

Ana Musat, Executive Director of Policy, RenewableUK:
“These announcements do not go far enough to attract the investment we need in the renewable energy sector – we need much bolder action to secure Britain’s clean energy future. Global competition for investment in renewable energy projects is fiercer than ever, and the UK risks falling behind and surrendering our global lead.
“The government has highlighted some important steps forward in existing policies and schemes, but we need much more than a “business as usual” approach to kickstart investment on the level we need to boost energy security, cut consumer bills and reach net zero. Without that, we won’t land the UK-wide economic benefits of building up new clean energy supply chains, as they will go elsewhere where the investment environment is more conducive and attractive”.
“The government’s long-awaited announcement that it is opening its £160 million Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Scheme to bidders is an important first step in accelerating much-needed port upgrades around the UK and stimulating manufacturing opportunities in innovative floating wind technology, in which the UK is a world leader. However, the Floating Offshore Wind Taskforce, led by RenewableUK, has identified the need for £4 billion of investment by the end of this decade to ensure that ports are ready for the mass deployment of floating wind, which would bring jobs and growth to coastal communities as we build up new supply chains. So we need Government to step up and raise its level of ambition if we are to secure these economic benefits”.

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, chief executive, Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA):
“Despite positive moves that will get vital renewable technologies delivered, we still need stronger ambitions to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in our sector. The UK is now in an international race for investment and needs to keep pace, as well as urgently delivering on Net Zero ambitions.
“Highlighted by the recent CCC and IPCC reports, it could not be clearer that we need to move faster, and today’s announcements leave significant gaps in vital policy that will provide a route to market for the speedy decarbonisation of power, heat and transport, while moving to a circular economy and addressing the joint climate and energy crises. A full range of renewable and clean energy technologies are needed to decarbonise our energy systems, many of which continue to be missing from today’s plans.
“Whilst making this clear, we do recognise that a number of ambitious measures have been released today which highlight that Government are finally committing to several programmes long awaited by industry. The REA welcomes government’s recommitment to Net Zero and green industries in Britain.
“The REA look forward to working with government to see delivery of today’s announcements and to address the substantial policy gaps that remain.”

Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group:
“Delivering net zero will require simultaneous and carefully co-ordinated action across multiple parts of the economy. It is therefore encouraging to see policy and funding interventions being announced today in a wide range of sectors from energy efficiency, heat pumps and grid infrastructure to carbon capture and hydrogen. It is positive to see the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer rightly recognising that the net zero transition is a key part of achieving the UK’s energy security and economic policy goals.
While many announcements move in the right direction, there is still much work to do to meet the economic and environmental ambition called for in the recent Skidmore review and the latest IPPC report. In particular, further policy detail in areas like home energy efficiency and heating, heavy industry and surface transport is urgently required to meet the challenge presented by increased global competition from the US and the EU, and attract the scale of private investment needed in the UK’s low carbon infrastructure. Plugging these outstanding policy gaps must be accompanied by the creation of a Net Zero Delivery Body as recommended by the Skidmore review. This body has a vital role to play in ensuring the necessary levels of co-ordination across Whitehall to hit the UK’s net zero target.”

Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive, Energy Networks Association:
“Investment and innovation in Great Britain’s electricity and gas networks is crucial if we are to reach net zero in time. That’s why we have thousands of innovation projects under way and are investing billions over the next decade to get our grids net zero ready. The clock’s ticking and we need planning, regulation and policy to keep pace. It’s great to see this being recognised by government today.”
“Alongside the immediate steps our members are already taking, we hope the Electricity Commissioner’s review of planning and connections will help identify and remove barriers for customers looking to connect to the grid and speed up the development of vital energy infrastructure.
“Alongside massive amounts of electrification, developing our hydrogen economy is crucial if we are to decarbonise industry, businesses, transport and homes. Decisions on hydrogen still remain, especially around hydrogen blending and business models for hydrogen transport and storage. We need to see progress there.”

Kate Gilmartin, chief executive, British Hydropower Association:
“While we welcome the government’s support for new and unproven technologies, like CCUS and Hydrogen, the government also needs to ensure that proven technologies like hydropower continue to be deployed, mitigating the risk if these technologies are not delivered on time. The announcements in the last few weeks are great examples of industry and the Welsh Government investing in putting hydropower back on the agenda. To make real progress, it can’t be industry or government making the move but both, working in partnership, and we will continue to champion this collaborative approach to ensure that we deliver energy security and a fair net zero transition for all.”

Greg Jackson, CEO and Founder of Octopus Energy:
“We’re delighted the Government is looking to remove outdated levies from electricity bills. A cheaper, greener, more secure future is an electrified future – and ending these taxes on increasingly clean electricity is essential.
“The government redoubling its commitment to heat pumps is hugely welcome. These are the most efficient way to heat a home and the UK could create hundreds of thousands of clean jobs as we make our homes warmer, more comfortable and cheaper to heat.”

Ruth Herbert, Chief Executive, CCSA:
“We have repeatedly made clear to the government that it needs to move forward boldly on CCUS or risk losing the UK’s supply chain to countries who are now joining the industrial decarbonisation race with major interventions. If the project list published today is too timid, we may well see investment in the wider CCUS project pipeline fall away, unless the government provides reassurance that unsuccessful projects and new clusters and projects will have a clear route forward in the near-term.”
Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary, Prospect union:
“This Powering Up plan is a paring down of ambition. The long overdue launch of Great British Nuclear is welcome, but needs to be backed by proper funding for a nuclear new-build programme that invests in gigawatt-scale plants alongside SMRs to be a success. Without it, this launch is just a recycling of old announcements.
“Ministers are allowing the UK to fall behind in the global race for green jobs and industries. They are doing too little to address the race to the bottom on costs in the offshore wind industry that is putting clean energy projects at risk. We are also yet to see a comprehensive strategy for decarbonising the power sector by 2035, which depends on rapidly accelerating investment in our energy networks.”

Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP, chair, Welsh Affairs Committee:
“On the back of last week’s announcement on freeports, it is very welcome that the Government has now launched a funding scheme to encourage investment in infrastructure to support Floating Offshore Wind. This could turbocharge efforts to see open up the Celtic Sea to the green energy revolution, offering enormous economic opportunities for Welsh communities. It is essential that Welsh ports receive a fair share of the £160 million package.”
“For some time the nuclear sector has called for greater clarity on the government’s ambitions, and the policy announcements today on nuclear energy is in line with what we have been calling for. The full launch of Great British Nuclear should go some way to reassure the sector and motivate them to invest. I wish its interim Chair and Chief Executive the best in their endeavours, and look forward to seeing the detail of the Small Modular Reactor technology competition when it launches. It is absolutely right that the government is looking to match global competitors so we are not left behind in establishing and reaping the benefits of gigawatt scale nuclear, as well as from small modular reactors.”

Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, chair, Environmental Audit Committee
“From boosting low carbon heating to harnessing renewable energy, and addressing carbon leakage to furthering hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, the Government outlines some promising ideas today. The Committee will carefully consider the policy announcements set out within the Energy Security Plan, the government’s response to Chris Skidmore’s Net Zero Review and the Green Finance Strategy. We shall be looking carefully at the detail to see whether these new policies have added flesh to the bone on long-term plans to achieve Net Zero Britain.”

Martin McTague, National Chair, Federation of Small Businesses:
“FSB has led a cross-industry campaign for a small business support scheme that matches practical information to reduce energy use, alongside funding for green improvements that small firms cannot afford. Our proposals were backed by a dozen leading business groups across the economy and adopted as one of Chris Skidmore’s 25 recommendations in his Net Zero Review. We are pleased to see it adopted today, in the form of the SME energy advice service alongside an audit and grant scheme – as a pilot. We are keen to help the Energy and Business and Trade Departments’ outreach to the community to make sure the pilot is a success, and to get it up and running as soon as possible – certainly in time before energy use rises next winter.”

Andy Willis, founder, Kona Energy:
“The biggest obstacle on our path to net zero remains unmoved. Without significant grid connection reform, vast potential of clean energy development will linger trapped behind red tape and bureaucratic delays. Investment and funding into the industry is not the issue – it’s connecting these projects to the grid where the real frustration lies. Kona has approved battery storage facilities that could be built and pumping power into countless homes in a matter of months, but due to the archaic system that will now take years. It is not uncommon to hear of connection dates in the late 2030s. This is entirely unsustainable to expect international investment to keep coming if it won’t see returns for almost twenty years.
“The time for consultations and committees is over – the industry needs to see comprehensive and well-funded action to retain trust in the government’s commitment to net zero. An action plan ‘later this year’ is not good enough.”

Rachel Skinner, Executive Director, WSP:
“Many of the measures announced today are welcome and we support the government’s ambition and focus. Progress towards a diverse, clean energy supply and decarbonisation of our housing stock are clear priorities, so continued support for offshore wind and nuclear power, acceleration of carbon capture and hydrogen, and provision for increased home energy efficiency, is all positive.
“What we must not lose sight of, however, is the pace, direction and scale of change required and the twinned complexity of decarbonisation and climate resilience when set against the ever-shorter time to act, not only in the UK but globally. The recent IPCC and Climate Change Committee reports could not be more clear: we are losing the battle to limit global warming to 1.5C and we are unprepared for the impact this change will have on our infrastructure, natural resources, supply chains and daily lives. The slower we are to respond to these immense challenges, the higher the cost and risk will be as we try to cope with the issues they create in the years to come. Focused action and investment at a faster pace will help to unlock the full economic potential of net zero for the UK.”

Bean Beanland, Director of Growth & External Affairs, Heat Pump Federation:
“The target for 600,000 domestic heat pump installations by 2028 remains but is now underpinned by enhanced policy. The commitment to significant progress on gas vs. electricity price rebalancing by the end of 2024 has been a core Federation ask, and is fundamental. The extension to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme out to 2028 will drive investment in the supply chain and skills; it is now up to industry to partner with government in boosting awareness and uptake. Couple these to the confirmation of the intention to phase out installations of new and replacement fossil fuel heating systems in buildings off the gas grid, starting from 2026, and the full implementation of the Future Homes Standard in 2025, and the target remains in the sights.
“There is a huge amount of material still to digest, but it’s already clear that the electrification of heat at all scales is now the embedded strategy in government, which Heat Pump Federation members support and welcome, enabling them to invest in growing skills and capacity in a policy environment that is now that much more certain.”

Kieran Sinclair, Heat Network Policy Manager, ADE:
“It is clear that zero carbon heat networks will have to become the mainstream way of heating buildings in the near future, and the ADE is glad to see Government recognise the importance of taking action now, not later, to accelerate their adoption. Combined with the heat network zoning powers and regulation that will put into law this year, this funding will help heat networks to rapidly scale up across the country and provide cheap, green heat to homes and businesses.”

Tom Williams, Head of Energy & Infrastructure, Downing LLP:
“The UK Government’s revamped plan to reach net zero is more a tortuous route map. While we welcome the ambition to fully decarbonise the domestic power system by 2035 and recognition of energy supply security, we question why such security needs to be a caveat to decarbonisation. We do take some comfort from the Government’s decision to go against potential planning rules that would constrain solar development. It now remains to be seen whether the rest of the report’s recommendations will come to fruition and deliver concrete action quickly.”

Chris Pateman-Jones, chief executive, Connected Kerb:
“Accessibility, reliability, and convenience are three crucial elements to a successful nationwide charging network, particularly for those unable to charge at home. The LEVI Fund will allow local authorities all over the country to deliver on ambitious net zero targets and accelerate us towards every UK resident living within a few minutes walk from a charging point. At Connected Kerb, we are continuing to deliver infrastructure at scale, and we hope the LEVI Capital Fund will give local authorities the confidence they need to deliver thousands of charge points, not hundreds.”

Mick Gornall, Managing Director, Cavendish Nuclear:
“Moving UK nuclear onto a path of deployment can revitalise the industry nationally. The Xe-100 builds on the long experience we have in high-temperature gas reactor technologies, leveraging local and national experience in operations as well as manufacturing and construction. X-energy and Cavendish Nuclear are ready to engage with UK regulator on generic design assessment.”

Anthony Ainsworth, COO, npower Business Solutions:
“..one point in the corresponding Net Zero Growth Plan that will be of interest to business is the potential extension of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF). Although this is currently ‘subject to business case approval’, increasing funding to £500 million and opening a Phase 3 of funding in 2024 is a welcome move.However, at the moment it looks like there aren’t any additional incentives for businesses that are keen to accelerate their energy efficiency efforts right now. The government has acknowledged the crucial role businesses and private investment will play in both our energy security and net zero ambitions. We know from our Business Energy Tracker that they believe in net zero and are proactively investing in sustainability and energy reduction measures – hopefully the policies announced today will help drive action even further.”

Jeff Vander Linden, Chief Operating Officer EQTEC:
“The drive to encourage the development of green hydrogen is welcome, although there needs to be more support specifically for production of low carbon hydrogen beyond electrolysis, and more pressingly, for renewable natural gas as an immediate alternative to natural gas obtained through legacy means. The UK’s energy security would be better served utilising its own waste to deliver local-for-local energy solutions, rather than depending on imports or expensive and carbon-intensive alternatives from offshore. There needs to be more recognition from government on the role that waste-to-syngas technology will play in achieving the UK’s net zero targets.”

Chris Wickins, Technical Director, Field:
“There are a lot of very welcome initiatives in here, but beyond the UK British Infrastructure Bank stepping up its focus, specific mention of the energy storage sector is conspicuously absent. To meet net zero and build a reliable, flexible and green grid, we need to massively invest in energy storage, alongside wind and solar generation. While we welcome the focus on the infrastructure needed to reach net zero in here today – especially efforts to speed up planning processes – it seems storage has somehow fallen off the grid.
“We’d also have liked to see more on investment in the grid that’s needed to connect the generators supported today. National Grid and Ofgem have been making good progress on grid connection reform here and the Government would do well to throw their weight behind that crucial initiative.”

John Kent, Chief Energy Transition Officer, energy services business Kent:
“The mess the government has made of the outward positioning of their climate policy should not overlook the fact that the UK is still one of the world leaders in renewable energy sources, particularly offshore wind, hydrogen and committing to carbon capture technology. As well as the additional investment in their energy security plan, they have promised to reform the planning process of energy infrastructure, specifically citing solar and offshore wind, to speed up the process and attract investment. For those involved in making a renewable energy future a reality, like Kent, this is a critical piece of the puzzle and must not be overlooked.”