Nuclear and renewables at heart of UK’s Net Zero Strategy

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled the country’s Net Zero Strategy, which places power generation from renewables and nuclear at the heart of efforts to strengthen energy security and decarbonise Britain.

Boris Johnson, credit: BEIS.gov

The strategy was unveiled 12 days before the UK hosts global leaders in Glasgow for the COP26 climate negotiations, which carry an unprecedented importance to deliver action to curb carbon emissions.

Johnson said he wants the strategy to “build a defining competitive edge in electric vehicles, offshore wind, carbon capture technology and more”.

“With COP26 just around the corner, our strategy sets the example for other countries to build back greener too as we lead the charge towards global net zero.”

The economy-wide plan prioritises decreasing vulnerability to sudden price rises caused by fluctuating fossil fuel markets and promotes the use of cheap British, clean energy.

The strategy states that a net zero electricity system will be composed mainly of wind and solar generation, with the offshore wind sector alone seeing over £20 billion in private investment by 2030. The UK has committed to two purpose-built manufacturing ports and five offshore wind turbine component factories in order to reach wind-related goals.

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The increased capacity from wind and solar will be complemented by nuclear power and CCUS, as well as flexible technologies such as interconnectors, storage and demand response.

Some £120 million has been committed to the development of nuclear projects through the Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, retaining options for future nuclear technologies, including Small Modular Reactors, with a number of potential sites including Wylfa in North Walesand.

And a £140 million Industrial and Hydrogen Revenue Support scheme aims to accelerate industrial carbon capture and hydrogen.

Additional key policy action points include:

  • Accelerate deployment of low-cost renewable generation through the Contracts for Difference scheme by undertaking a review of the frequency of the CfD auctions;
  • Deliver 40GW of offshore wind, including 1GW of innovative floating offshore wind by 2030;
  • Implement a Dispatchable Power Agreement to support the deployment of first-of-a-kind power CCUS plant(s).
  • Secure a final investment decision on a large-scale nuclear plant by the end of this Parliament while taking measures to inform investment decisions during the next Parliament on further nuclear projects;
  • Adopt a new approach to onshore and offshore electricity networks to incorporate new low carbon generation and demand in the most efficient manner;
  • Provide £380 million for offshore wind, investing in supply chains, infrastructure and early-coordination of offshore transmission networks;
  • Explore the system need and case for further market intervention for long duration storage and hydrogen in power.

Ultimately, the Net Zero Strategy sets out to unlock £90 billion in investment in 2030 as the country ends its contribution to climate change by 2050.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “There is a global race to develop new green technology, kick-start new industries and attract private investment. The countries that capture the benefits of this global green industrial revolution will enjoy unrivalled growth and prosperity for decades to come – and it’s our job to ensure the UK is fighting fit.”

The full report is available online.

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