Boris Johnson energy strategy branded ‘a missed opportunity’

Boris Johnson’s future energy strategy has been dismissed as “missed opportunity” that does not do enough to tackle the soaring cost of bills now while making the wrong choices for the next generation.

The plan was rushed through Whitehall after the Russian invasion of Ukraine to make the UK more self-sufficient in energy production.

Eight new nuclear power stations are planned in the strategy unveiled on Thursday which aims to boost UK energy independence and tackle rising prices.

It also includes plans to increase wind, hydrogen and solar production but Ministers have admitted it will do little to take the edge off soaring energy bills right now.

Under the UK government’s new plans, up to 95 per cent of the UK’s electricity could come from low-carbon sources like offshore wind farms by 2030.

But experts have called for a bigger focus on energy efficiency and improving home insulation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Hinkley Point C

The Scottish Government has delayed its own energy strategy while awaiting the outcome of the UK plan.

But the SNP and Green coalition in Holyrood is outrightly opposed to new nuclear power plants and has the planning powers to prevent any going ahead.

Speaking at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant, Boris Johnson said the nuclear strategy would benefit the whole of the UK.

He said: “The jobs that we will be creating with the energy security strategy will number in the hundreds of thousands, because you are looking at loads of new nuclear plants, you are looking at a colossal amount of offshore wind, and you are looking at a big, big project to fix our networks.”

Johnson added there would be a renewed focus on the North Sea.

He said: “If you talk to people in the energy sector, one the most important things we have got to do is make sure when we get the juice coming in from the North Sea that it is handled properly, there is no wastage, and it is done in a way that is efficient.

“All of that is going to involve high-wage, high-skilled jobs for a long time to come.”

A new licensing round for North Sea projects being launched in the summer has been welcomed by industry leaders as an “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to ensure an orderly transition to net zero.

But Stephen Flynn, the SNP energy spokesman and Aberdeen South MP, said the failure to back the Acorn carbon capture and storage project in Aberdeenshire would “go down like a bucket of cold sick” in the north east.

Flynn added: “The Treasury will reap the rewards of inflated oil and gas prices, with around £13.6 billion of additional income generated from Scotland’s resources, and a further £6 billion earned from the Emissions Trading Scheme.

“This should have been used in the strategy to invest in the Scottish Cluster if we are to meet our emissions reduction milestones, and for a just transition to net zero, not just for Scotland, but across the UK.”

‘People are paying higher bills as a result’

Labour's Ed Miliband criticized the government for its plan
Labour’s Ed Miliband criticized the government for its plan

Labour’s Ed Miliband, accused Tory backbenchers of stopping the development of onshore wind farms as the cheapest, quickest form of energy.

He said: “It’s been blocked since 2015 because of Government rules, not because of the views of the population but because a few Tory backbenchers are holding the Government’s energy policy to ransom, and people are paying higher bills as a result.”

The Lib Dems said household energy bills will rise by another £96 per year because of the cost of plans to build eight new nuclear power plants.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “Instead of rapidly reducing energy costs by expanding onshore wind and insulating homes, the government’s nuclear plans will add almost £100 to annual household bills.

“This is an energy betrayal that will add to the pain facing households on the brink. Instead of offering the help families need, the Conservatives seem happy for people’s record energy bills to get even higher.”

what’s in

The report backs investment in nuclear, offshore wind and hydrogen to ensure 95 per cent of UK electricity is low carbon by 2030, and deliver “40,000 more jobs in clean industries” within that timeframe.

One nuclear reactor a year instead of one a decade by 2050, using small, modular reactors. Two new reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk during this parliament and sites in Anglesey and Cumbria named as candidates to host plants in the next parliament.

Offshore wind expected to hit 50GW by the end of the decade, much off it on the Scottish coastline.

Hydrogen production will double to 10GW, with at least half coming via “green” hydrogen, using excess offshore wind power to bring down costs.

what’s not

Lack of support for carbon capture and hydrogen production plans in north-east Scotland branded a “missed opportunity”.

No windfall tax on healthy North Sea oil and gas profits while average household bills are rising by £700 following a price cap increase from regulator Ofgem.

No mention of insulating homes to cut energy costs does little to solve the cost-of-living crisis now.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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