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UK energy strategy: Plans will not tackle spiralling bills for five years

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
UK energy strategy EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBR 29 A construction worker stands inside a welded steel dome that will be lifted and placed on top of the nuclear island, which houses the reactor, at Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant near Bridgwater in Somerset, as work on the project reaches the five year anniversary. Five years after getting the go-ahead, the number of people across Britain working on the Hinkley Point C power station has reached 22,000. The growing number includes 6,300 on site, compared to just 1,500 at the height of the pandemic last year. Picture date: Thursday September 23, 2021.
UK energy strategy: government plans eight new nuclear reactors to boost production. Photo:PA

The UK is to step up its nuclear power rollout under a new energy strategy designed as a "more of a medium term answer” and not an immediate response to the cost of living crisis.

The plan also includes plans to increase wind, hydrogen and solar production. Under the government's new strategy, up to 95% of the UK's electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030.

The government said up to eight reactors could be delivered by 2030 – including two at Sizewell in Suffolk – as the UK looks to move away from oil and gas.

Read more: Shell to write off up to $5bn on Russia exit

The strategy also confirmed the intention to push ahead with a nuclear project at the Wylfa site on the island of Anglesey, off the north-west coast of Wales.

A new body, Great British Nuclear, will oversee the delivery of the new plants. The aim is to increase nuclear capacity from 7 gigawatts to 24GW.

Targets for onshore wind and solar power generation will also be raised, in a push for 95% of Great Britain’s electricity to come from domestic renewable energy sources by 2030.

The offshore wind target raised from 40GW to 50GW (from 11GW today), solar could grow five times from 14GW to 70GW by 2035 and hydrogen power should deliver up to 10GW by 2030.

An “impartial” review into whether fracking is safe will also be launched.

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg downplayed the earthquake risks from fracking and suggested “every last drop” of oil should be extracted from the North Sea, while transport secretary Grant Shapps said he did not favour a vast increase in onshore wind farms as he said they “can create something of an eyesore”.

The government aims to reform planning laws to speed up approvals for new offshore wind farms.

A new licensing round for North Sea projects is being launched in the summer on the basis that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than doing so abroad.

A £30m competition to manufacture heat pumps is also to be launched, and there are ambitions to increase solar capacity with a consultation of the rules for solar projects.

Consumers are facing soaring energy bills after the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushed gas prices even higher.

Johnson said the plan will “reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills”.

“This plan comes in light of rising global energy prices, provoked by surging demand after the pandemic as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more: Energy price hike: 5 million English households to feel pinch from rising bills

“This will be central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels, which are subject to volatile gas prices set by international markets we are unable to control, and boosting our diverse sources of homegrown energy for greater energy security in the long term.”

There has been particular worldwide concern about the reliance on Russian oil and gas since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted that the energy strategy will not help to cut people’s bills for up to five years.

The business secretary said the energy roadmap was “more of a medium term answer” to the cost of living crisis.

On Sky News, e said: “You are right to say that the strategy is more of a medium term, three, four or five-year answer, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t address this.

“It’s really important that we get an energy strategy, an energy policy, that means we can have more security and independence in the year ahead.”

Watch: Why are gas prices rising

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