The UK is targeting more nuclear, wind and fossil fuels in a bid for energy security

Besides increasing nuclear power, the UK’s Energy Security Strategy envisages up to 50 GW of offshore wind capacity and 10 GW of hydrogen, half of which is called green hydrogen, by 2030.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images News | fake photos

The UK government has revealed details of its long-awaited “bold” energy security strategy, but critics have derided its inclusion of fossil fuels and what they see as a lack of ambition.

In a statement on Wednesday, the government announced a “significant acceleration of domestic power in Britain’s plan for greater energy independence”.

The government said the plans, known as the British Energy Security Strategy, meant producing more “clean” and “affordable” energy in Britain, as the country seeks to “advance energy independence, security and prosperity around the world”. term”. “

The government is now targeting up to 24 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2050, which it said would make up about a quarter of the country’s projected electricity demand. The strategy could see the development of up to eight reactors.

In addition to nuclear power, plans include up to 50 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity and 10 gigawatts of “low carbon” hydrogen capacity, at least half of which will be so-called green hydrogen, by 2030. The government also said solar power could double by one-fifth. times by 2035, compared to 14 gigawatts today.

When it comes to onshore wind energy, a divisive issue for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, the government said it would consult on “developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities willing to host new onshore wind infrastructure against utility bills”. Guaranteed lowest power. . “

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However, in a move that sparked outrage among environmental activists, the government also said its strategy would be to “support domestic oil and gas production in the short term,” with a round of licenses for new oil and gas projects in the North Sea. scheduled. For release this fall. The government has claimed that its strategy could lead to 95% of Britain’s electricity being “low carbon” by 2030.

“The simple truth is that the more clean energy we generate within our borders costs us, the less exposure we will have to the eye-watering fossil fuel prices set by global markets that we cannot control,” said Kwasi Quarting, Minister of Energy and Business of the Arab Republic of Egypt. country. , saying.

“Increasing cheap renewables and new nuclear power, while maximizing production from the North Sea, is the best and only way to ensure our energy independence for years to come.”

The release of the strategy comes at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened concerns about energy security. Russia is a major supplier of oil and gas, and its actions in Ukraine have prompted many economies to try to find ways to reduce their dependence.

In response to the invasion, the UK said it would “gradually stop imports of Russian oil”, which meets 8% of its total oil demand, by the end of this year. The government says Russian natural gas makes up “less than 4%” of its supply, adding that ministers were “exploring options to reduce it further”.

Stupids gone?

While Business Minister Kwarteng was optimistic about the strategy and its prospects, the plan angered some quarters.

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“This is a failure as a strategy because it is not doing the most obvious things that would reduce energy demand and protect households from higher prices,” said Danny Gross, energy activist for Friends of the Earth.

“Digging deeper into the UK’s renewable energy treasure is the surest way to meet our energy needs, not foolish fossil gold.”

While the acceleration in offshore wind developments is “welcome”, Gross said ministers needed to “go further and make the most of the UK’s vast onshore wind resources”.

Meanwhile, Lisa Fisher, program lead at Climate Change Research Center E3G, argued that the future of the North Sea lies in renewables rather than oil and gas.

“We welcome the boost in offshore wind energy, but embracing oil and gas at the same time will act as a drag on the UK’s leap towards a clean and affordable energy future,” he said.

Economic and moral madness

Britain’s Energy Security Strategy was published the same week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest report.

“Reducing global warming will require major transformations in the energy sector,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a press release. “This will include a significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the spread of electricity, improved energy efficiency, and the use of alternative fuels (such as hydrogen).”

Commenting on the report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres did not hit any blows. “Climate activists are sometimes portrayed as dangerous extremists,” he said. “But the really dangerous extremists are the countries that are increasing fossil fuel production.”

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In March, the International Energy Agency reported that in 2021 energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose to an all-time high. The International Energy Agency found that global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 6% in 2021 to a record 36.3 billion metric tons.

The same month also saw Guterres warning that the planet emerged from last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow with “a certain naive optimism” and was “sleep-walking toward climate catastrophe”.

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