Britain’s New Energy Security Strategy Aims at 70 GW of Solar Capacity by 2035
The UK also aims to double its low carbon hydrogen production capacities to 10 GW by 2030
April 12, 2022
The United Kingdom has set out an Energy Security Strategy to accelerate the deployment of new renewable projects, including wind, nuclear and solar, to contribute to 95% of the electricity generated.
The strategy builds on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and, together with the Net Zero Strategy, is driving an unprecedented £100 billion (~$130.23 billion) of private sector investment into new British industries.
The strategy aims to tackle rising global energy prices, flamed by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Britain aims to cut off its reliance on fossil fuel imports subject to volatile gas prices set by international markets.
The strategy covers assisting consumers with their energy bills, increasing energy efficiency, supporting the oil and gas sector, and developing renewables.
As a part of the new strategy, the UK will review the existing regulations for solar projects, specifically the domestic and commercial rooftops. While the current installed solar capacity is 14 GW, the UK government aims to achieve five-fold growth in the sector by 2035.
For ground-mounted solar, the government intends to amend planning rules to strengthen policy favoring development on non-protected land and work on effective land use by encouraging large-scale projects to locate on previously developed or lower value land.
The government plans to encourage solar co-located with other functions (for example, agriculture, onshore wind generation, or storage) to maximize land use efficiency.
For rooftop solar, the strategy plans to bring down bills and increase jobs by radically simplifying planning processes with a consultation on relevant permitted development rights and considering the best way to make use of public sector rooftops.
The UK government has removed value added tax (VAT) on solar panels installed in residential accommodation in Great Britain and aims to facilitate low-cost finance from retail lenders to drive rooftop deployment and energy efficiency measures. As a part of the strategy, the government intends to design performance standards to make the installation of renewables, including solar, a requirement in new homes and buildings.
Under the new strategy, Britain aims to achieve 50 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, which is more than enough to power every household in the UK. Of the total capacity, floating offshore wind projects of 5 GW capacity will be installed in the deep sea. This is backed by investing up to £160 million (~$208.56 million) in ports and supply chains and £31 million (~$40.39 million) in research and development.
The strategy aims to reduce the approval time for new offshore wind farms to one year, previously four years. It also plans to work with the Offshore Wind Acceleration Task Force, a group of industry experts brought together to work with the government, Ofgem, and National Grid on further cutting the timeline.
The installed onshore wind capacity in the UK is at 14 GW, with a strong pipeline of future projects in Scotland. Britain will focus on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills. The plans include working associations with Scotland and Wales, where more land is available to develop wind projects.
The strategy is expected to significantly accelerate nuclear power capacity, with an ambition of up to 24 GW by 2050. This would represent up to around 25% of our projected electricity demand.
A new government body, Great British Nuclear, will be set up to bring forward new projects backed by substantial funding. The government also plans to launch the £120 million (~$156.40 million) Future Nuclear Enabling Fund. The government aims to deliver up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade, accelerating nuclear in Britain.
To reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the UK aims to double its low carbon hydrogen production capacities to 10 GW by 2030. At least half of this capacity will be derived from hydrogen and will help the industries in Britain evade the import or use of expensive fossil fuels.
The strategy aims to run annual allocation rounds for electrolytic hydrogen, moving to a price-competitive allocation by 2025 as soon as legislation and market conditions allow so that up to 1 GW of electrolytic hydrogen is in construction or operational by 2025.
It also includes designing new business models for hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure, essential to growing the hydrogen economy. The strategy intends on setting up a hydrogen certification scheme by 2025 to demonstrate high-grade British hydrogen for export and ensure any imported hydrogen meets the same high standards that UK companies expect.
Over time, the British Energy Security Strategy is expected to generate 90,000 new jobs in the offshore wind sector, 10,000 new jobs in the solar sector, and 12,000 new jobs in the hydrogen industry.
Mercom had reported that the European Commission proposed an outline of a plan to find alternative gas supplies in the next few months and boost energy efficiency while increasing greener sources of power in the medium to long term.