Government unleashes ten point climate plan: Industry responds

The Prime Minister has set out the UK’s ten point plan to tackle climate change, deliver net zero and launch a ‘green industrial revolution’ – but what does the industry think?

The Prime Minister has set out the UK’s ten point plan to tackle climate change, deliver net zero and launch a “green industrial revolution“.

Boris Johnson says the new plans will create and support up to 250,000 British jobs while allowing the UK to “forge ahead with eradicating its contribution to climate change by 2050” in the lead-up to the COP26 climate summit being hosted in Glasgow next year.

But what does the industry think?

Major day for green industry

Frank Gordon, Head of Policy at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said: “This is a major day for the building of green industries in the UK. The electric vehicle charging infrastructure sector stands ready to roll-out enough charge points to meet demand so long as a supportive regulatory regime is in place. Renewable transport fuels will play a critical and complementary role to this policy, and will be needed in greater volumes to ensure that we maximise emissions reductions from the millions of petrol and diesel cars and vans already on our roads, not just from new ones.”

He noted that while the REA welcomed the extension of the Green Homes Grant, it also believes it should be extended to cover more technologies such as energy storage and thermal batteries.

He added: “It is great to see the role of Organics recognised in protecting and restoring the natural environment.”

Welcome commitment, but not without its challenges

Maria Bengtsson, EY Director and Electric Vehicle (EV) specialist, said she was happy to hear the government’s announcement to accelerate the electrification of vehicles and branded it a “welcome commitment that will help boost the focus, investment and roll out of EVs across the UK”.

She acknowledged: “However, it presents some significant, but not unsurmountable challenges.

“Overall capacity in the grid will likely need to increase and the capacity which is there currently does not necessarily reflect where capacity needs to be to charge vehicles in the future. To ensure effective roll-out, there will need to be regional plans with national oversight to ensure that adequate capacity will be in place when it is needed.”

Vital steps are now being taken

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “A 2030 deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans is a vital step to help the UK meet our net zero target. It’s an important signal to the market, and one we’ve been calling for since we assessed the UK’s biggest infrastructure challenges two years ago.

“We’ve also recommended a 2040 ban on the sale of new diesel HGVs, and welcome government’s plans to consult on this question.

“Among the various proposals on green energy, it is encouraging to see government preparing to place a strategic bet on hydrogen across a wide range of uses. Replacing gas as our primary heat source is probably the single biggest net zero challenge we face and the new target on heat pump installation is an important step up in ambition.

“Today’s announcement offers positive steps on a number of fronts, but to ensure industry can plan for the long term these initiatives need to be set within a wider strategy that prepares our infrastructure for the challenges of tomorrow. We look forward to seeing a comprehensive National Infrastructure Strategy in the near future.”

Net zero must be hard-wired into COVID recovery

National Grid Electricity System Operator stressed it is crucial that net zero is hard wired into any recovery plans from COVID-19 and emphasised it welcomes the government’s announcements.

Director Fintan Slye said: “During the challenges posed by the pandemic reliable electricity supplies have taken on a heightened importance. Our focus is keeping our people safe and the lights on, but as well as day to day operation, we are working in partnership with the energy industry to see how it can deliver an electricity system that contributes to the UK meeting its net zero commitments by 2050.

“It’s great to see investment and clear policy direction for offshore wind, energy efficiency and new green technologies – as well as plans to accelerate the growth in electric vehicles. Rather than placing a strain on the grid EVs can play a key role in decarbonising both transport and electricity supply, with smart charging and vehicle to grid technology helping us use renewable energy more efficiently, charging when the sun shines or the wind blows and discharging back to the grid at times of peak demand.

“If delivered, these commitments can have the dual effect of stimulating the economy, focused where possible in the areas of society most affected, while also accelerating the UK along the path to Net Zero.  We will work constructively with all parties to drive forward change, keeping the lights on and helping to deliver a safe and secure electricity system that works for all.”

A step in the right direction

Gavin Graveson, Executive Vice President, Veolia UK and Ireland said: “Driving investment to low carbon innovations and alternatives; supporting employment growth in more sustainable sectors; and ensuring that all businesses align their strategies with national climate goals is the right direction for us to take as a nation to ensure we solve the climate change challenge for future generations to come.”

He added that he was in full support of the plan and suggested the focus on innovation and technological developments will allow for real growth and encourage all sectors to make more sustainable choices.

Disappointing lack of solar focus

STA Chief Executive Chris Hewett said: “It is disappointing that Number 10 has yet to grasp the opportunity presented by solar in the UK. Not only is it set to be the cheapest power source for years to come, it also provides good jobs and business opportunities up and down the country.”

“Whilst the Prime Minister might have a blind spot for solar, decisions in the market are likely to outpace his thinking. Today the City of London signed a 15-year deal to fund a new solar park, residential solar installations have already bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, all major utilities are expanding their solar ambitions and costs continue to fall. Delivering net-zero is now as much about economics as it is policy.”

Infrastructure and regulation changes must be prioritised

Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “The Prime Minister’s recognition that renewable energy is at the heart of a green industrial revolution is to be welcomed. It remains vital, however, that the infrastructure and regulation changes required to underpin the required shift are prioritised, with proposals to alter to the way the electricity network is paid for currently meaning Scottish generation faces a complex future.

“Overall it is important that the UK’s energy future is powered by the renewable energy technologies which are already providing environmental and economic benefits across the country, and we look forward to working with both the UK and Scottish Governments to overcome the barriers to realising that vision.”

Delighted to see commitments on clean heat

Laura Bishop, Chair of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association said: “I am pleased to see ground and water heat pumps figure so prominently in the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan.  Increased deployment of heat pumps in homes and businesses is vital if the UK is to deliver Net Zero.  It will provide a massive stimulus to job creation across the country.  Working with the Government, investment in training and skills development will be hugely necessary to achieve this massive change.”

Welcome step at start of green journey

Madeleine Greenhalgh, Policy Lead for the Electricity Storage Network said: “While we’ve seen high levels of ambition on decarbonisation from this government, we’ve been waiting some time for a delivery plan of how to reach those ambitions; this announcement is a really welcome step at the start of that journey.

“The plan rightly looks to new innovation, but we already have the technologies at our fingertips, such as storage, to get us a long way towards net zero, given the enabling policies and plans to deliver them. We eagerly await the long-overdue Energy White Paper and the Heat and Buildings Strategy to detail this support.”

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