Government sets out clean energy plans in Energy White Paper

A huge home retrofit programme and a £6.7bn package to make bills more affordable are among the plans outlined in the Energy White Paper.
The business secretary Alok Sharma. Credit: Chris McAndrew/Creative Commons.

The UK government has set out its plans to give homes cleaner energy and make consumer bills more ‘affordable’ in its new Energy White Paper.

Affordability was a key part of the government’s rhetoric surrounding the white paper as it outlined its plans to boost competition in the energy retail market and provide at least £6.7 billion in support to the fuel poor over the next six years.

Building on the prime minister Boris Johnson’s Ten Point Plan outlined last month, the Energy White Paper sets out the steps the government will take over the next decade to cut the UK’s carbon emissions and support over 220,000 new ‘green’ jobs.

The proposals contained in the white paper form part of the government’s plans to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

The business and energy secretary Alok Sharma MP said: “Today’s plan establishes a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources that will put our country at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution.

“Through a major programme of investment and reform, we are determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come.

“At every step of the way, we will place affordability and fairness at the heart of our reforms – unleashing a wave of competition so consumers get the best deals possible on their bills, while protecting the vulnerable and fuel poor with additional financial support.”

Among the key elements of the Energy White Paper for housing are major infrastructure projects for power generation, carbon capture storage and hydrogen, as well as a major home retrofit programme for improved energy efficiency and clean heat.

The UK will also have its own Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as of 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU scheme at the end of the Brexit transition period.

The government has set the aim of ‘overwhelmingly decarbonising’ power by 2030 with the aim of generating emissions-free electricity by 2050.

The lowest paid will be supported with their household bills through a £6.7 billion package of measures, which includes extending the Warm Home Discount Scheme to 2026 to cover an extra 750,000 households. The £2 billion Green Homes Grant has already been extended for a further year.

All newly installed heating systems will be low carbon or convertible to low carbon by the mid-2030s, while the government will also invest £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of electric vehicle charging points for homes, streets and motorways.

The Energy White Paper has been welcomed by representatives from the energy and business sector who called it an ‘important next step’ to hitting the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive at the energy sector trade association Energy UK, said: “Today’s White Paper reveals the scale and opportunity of the energy transition, with aims in it to at least double the amount of clean electricity produced today, start making our homes warmer and greener, and help the switch to electric vehicles.

“The energy industry will do our bit to innovate, supporting our customers so that they benefit from the net zero transition and investing in the green infrastructure we need – but clear policies from government help us do that. This is what the White Paper – and other publications over the next year – should provide.”

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “The Energy White Paper is an important next step in our plans to reach our net zero emissions target. Action is needed now, and the welcome focus on job creation around the country, developing sustainable low-carbon industries, and ensuring the transition is fair for consumers will all help us achieve our ambitious climate goals.

“Business stands ready to deliver the investment and innovation needed to turn ambition into reality, and the proposals outlined in the Energy White Paper will give business further confidence to deliver new infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging, renewable power generation and low-carbon upgrades to people’s homes.”

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