UK’s Green Industrial Strategy: What’s missing?

The announcement today of a UK ten-point blueprint to accelerate a green energy transition has been welcomed across the energy sector.

However, there are some who, while praising the plans, also highlight gaps in its strategy.

Full details of ten-point strategy here

Luke Murphy, Head of the Environmental Justice Commission at think-tank the IPPR, said: “What has been announced does not yet amount to the action and investment that is needed to get the UK on track for net zero and restore nature.”

He said IPPR analysis had revealed that the government is “currently only investing a little over a tenth of the funds needed to meet net zero and restore nature, and what is being announced today will not bridge the gap”. 

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“The government must quickly bring forward a full plan to deliver a fair transition to net zero,” added Murphy. “This must include a net zero and nature rule, so that every new policy meets our wider environmental objectives, and a skills strategy to support workers in carbon intensive industries and the young unemployed to move into clean and well-paid jobs.” 

While welcoming all of today’s investment news, he urged the government “to also commit to investing the full £33 billion that is needed each year to meet our climate goals”. 

“For instance, the target for the delivery of 600,000 heat pumps is welcome but is not underpinned by either the strategy or investment that is required to deliver it. The investment planned for sustainable public transport and nature are also still significantly short of what is needed.”

‘Courtesy nod’
Ian Griffiths, energy partner at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, also believes the plan under-delivers.

“It is unclear as to whether this plan will give sufficient impact where it is needed, and the inclusion of carbon capture does not address the immediate needs we face.”

As an example he cites funding for currently-accepted nuclear reactor designs and renewables such as solar, wind and tidal. “Although better than nothing, this plan doesn’t make up for the continuing absence of the [delayed again] full Energy White Paper and the detail it should provide, particularly on infrastructure funding models.

He said renewable energy “must be a main priority for the government, and while this plan has given a courtesy nod to the direction of travel, the industry needs further details in the form of a White Paper and engagement on the infrastructure funding requirements necessary”.

“We are beyond the point of 10-Point Plans and repeated announcements of relatively small development grants.”

Local ecosystems
Severine Trouillet, a global affairs director at energy software company Dassault Systèmes, said the strategy’s wind energy targets were “fantastic news”.

Severine Trouillet

But she added that “it’s important to remember that the industry needs to take many steps to implement the plan and ensure it meets future requirements to produce enough wind energy to power every home in the UK by 2030, without impacting local ecosystems”.

“This requires careful planning and assessment of the various routes to take, from identifying the areas in which to deploy floating wind farms to designing buildings in the most carbon-neutral friendly way, and ensuring that power is delivered to homes all over the country effectively.”

“It also means having the right people for the job – technical but also soft skills linked to collaboration – and upskilling many to become green energy experts, which will create a raft of new jobs.”

She added that Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan “is a first step that will help turn the UK into a sustainability champion, enable companies, large and small, to create new services that bring new business avenues while benefiting the public and the planet, and provide a blueprint for the rest of the world”.

“It’s now time for the industry to assess the next steps and deliver on this vision. And embrace technology such as virtual twins as an enabler and catalyst.”

Policy detail
Net Zero North West is an industry-led collaboration launched last month to drive investment into the net zero economy and post-COVID-19 green recovery. Its executive chairman Ged Barlow welcomed Prime Minister’s plan but added that now he wants “to see the detail of the policy that sits beneath it”.

“We have the technology to deliver on net zero but need a joined up and long-term policy framework to underpin investment.”

He said the northwest of England “has an unrivalled and diverse number of projects already happening, from hydrogen and CCUS to tidal power and nuclear, which will deliver industrial decarbonisation and protect and grow the many manufacturing jobs that have made this region thrive”.