The launch today of a ten-point action plan to deliver a green industrial revolution in the UK has been widely welcomed by Britain’s energy sector (catch up with the full story here if you missed it).

Here industry insiders deliver their expert opinion.

Rachel Eyres, Energy & Utilities director at consultancy Expleo
Boris Johnson’s ten-point green recovery plan is a game-changer – particularly the focus on how we heat our homes and offshore wind. Both are absolutely vital for reducing carbon emissions.

But strengthening our capabilities in this area won’t be easy.

As well as the obvious logistical challenges with replacing gas boilers inside people’s homes with heat pumps, there are also challenges with introducing hydrogen into the gas network.

When incorporating a new gas into our system we need to be able to monitor and track its performance. This will require an increased use of IoT devices and new field technologies, better data and analytic capabilities – an “internet of pipes” if you will. 

So, despite the virtues of hydrogen, the grid is going to need to undergo an immensely complicated digital upgrade before we’re ready to reap its benefits.

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Offshore wind
With offshore wind, the obstacles again hinge around infrastructure. Offshore wind connects into electricity network, but the current system is just not yet sophisticated enough to handle the characteristics of an increase in this type of generation.

Industry analysis of Britain’s Green Industrial Plan

Just look at the problems caused by the Hornsey 1 outage last year – the grid is already having to plan to manage things differently because of this error, and with more offshore wind the risks will only increase.

It’s important we learn from lessons like this, and start transitioning to a smart, flexible grid, that’s actively managed, as soon as possible, so we can learn to live with a less predictable, bidirectional power system whilst also keeping the lights on.

The government’s proposal today is most welcome… but putting these changes in place is going require a lot of system and process change.

Because the energy market is so disaggregated many of these change programmes will need to be centrally managed – independent assurance will help to ensure that they deliver fast and well.

Steven Sorrell, Professor of Energy Policy in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School
This is a really important statement.  It is a clear signal of the priority given to tackling climate change, and a significant step on the road to COP 26.

The ban on new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030 is game changing – one of the most ambitious targets in the developed world.

The proposals demonstrate the opportunities opened up by innovation over the last few years.  To be effective and politically feasible, policy must link industrial, economic and environmental objectives.  These proposals seek to do that.

Five potential hydrogen game-changers

I’m very pleased to see the funding for CCS and hydrogen.  Both are essential for meeting the 2050 target and can help support broader system transformation.  The UK has a rather dismal history of supporting CCS, so I hope these proposals give the certainty and scale of support that is required.

The commitment to install 600k heat pumps per year by 2028 is a huge increase on the current rate of installation, and looks to be of the scale required to retrofit up to 20 million homes by 2050.  It is also encouraging to see a commitment to carbon pricing within the text.

The proposals on energy efficiency and other measures are difficult to judge without seeing further details.  Undoubtedly, their scale and ambition will be less than is required to meet our 2050 goals.  Nevertheless, we appear to be heading in the right direction.”