Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Amber Rudd set out the Government’s future direction for energy policy yesterday, 18 November.
Speaking at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, she explained her vision is for an energy system that puts consumers first, delivers more competition, reduces the burden on bill-payers and ensures enough electricity generation to power the nation.
“One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions in electricity is by replacing coal fired power stations with gas,” said Ms Rudd.
“I am pleased to announce that we will be launching a consultation in the spring on when to close all unabated coal-fired power stations. Our consultation will set out proposals to close coal by 2025 - and restrict its use from 2023. If we take this step, we will be one of the first developed countries to deliver on a commitment to take coal off the system.
“But let me be clear, we’ll only proceed if we’re confident that the shift to new gas can be achieved within these timescales".
Ms Rudd also outlined the role nuclear power stations and offshore wind have to play in the energy mix.
“Opponents of nuclear misread the science. It is safe and reliable. The challenge, as with other low carbon technologies, is to deliver nuclear power which is low cost as well. Green energy must be cheap energy,” she said.
“We should also support the growth of our world leading offshore wind industry.
“Today I can announce that – if, and only if, the Government’s conditions on cost reduction are met – we will make funding available for three auctions in this Parliament.
“On current plans we expect to see 10GW of offshore wind installed by 2020.
The industry tells us they can meet that challenge, and we will hold them to it. If they don’t there will be no subsidy. No more blank cheques.”
The full text of Ms Rudd's speech can be found here.
Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Association stated: “Today the Government has outlined its intentions for the energy market of tomorrow. While there is an over-emphasis on supply-side solutions, there are a number of welcome remarks in today’s speech.
“The Secretary of State describes energy efficiency as one of the best means to cut bills and carbon emissions and this is to be welcomed. The full range of sustainable energy technologies, applied in buildings are a key route to making our economy more efficient and productive. They remain an insufficiently tapped resource which can assist the Chancellor deliver secure his long-term economic plan.
“Greater ambition with regard to energy efficiency represents a greater appetite for delivering this long term improvement and overhaul of our economy.”
RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “It’s vital that we have a broad energy mix, and that means ensuring we utilise all our renewable energy resources. Wind power provided almost 10% of the UK’s electricity last year, and that is set to double by 2020. We’re a windy country and we shouldn’t turn our back on this great resource.
“Today’s speech provides clarity on where the Government stands on the future of offshore wind, which will give developers the confidence to invest in the British economy. Industry has already shown it can rise to the challenge of reducing costs and offshore wind companies are confident they will be cost competitive with new gas and new nuclear by 2025.”
Juliet Davenport OBE, chief executive of renewable energy company Good Energy said:
“While we welcome the phasing out of coal, the government needs to be much braver in its energy policy. A commitment to gas raises questions over our legally binding decarbonisation targets by locking us into more long-term reliance on fossil fuels.
“I’d challenge the government to offer a truly level playing field for all technologies. Before the government changed the policy goalposts, onshore wind and solar were on track to be the cheapest sources of UK power with the potential to be subsidy-free by 2020. The government’s apparent preferred options of nuclear and gas, and an old fashioned grid are not cheap and will not be subsidy free for decades.
“The government wants to be a world leader but the truth is, the UK will get left behind other countries like the United States and China if it doesn’t continue to modernise the grid, and support renewable technology which is low carbon, low cost and highly popular with the British public.”
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