UK’s target to decarbonise power by 2035 at risk, warns NAO

The lack of a delivery plan means the government cannot be confident its ambition to decarbonise power by 2035 is achievable, the National Audit Office has said

The UK risks not meeting its ambition to decarbonise its grid by 2035 because it lacks a delivery plan.

This is the key finding of a new report published today by the National Audit Office (NAO) which finds that the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) has made little progress with a long-term delivery plan for all electricity to be generated through clean energy sources.

The NAO suggests that the DESNZ has not established a ‘critical path’ to 2035 to understand when it will need to make decisions about which low carbon technologies to adopt and roll out to stay on track.

The absence of a clear plan could also lead to increasing costs for consumers as investors might increase the rates of return they require for backing new infrastructure.

The NAO report states that the government’s ambitions for the expansion of offshore wind, solar and nuclear power will require much faster deployment rates than have been achieved before.

For the government to meet its goal of achieving 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, DESNZ will need to oversee the deployment of nearly three times as much offshore wind capacity in eight years as it has in the last two decades, the NAO says.

The audit recommends that the government needs to set clear measures of overall progress with interim milestones and that those should be reported annually to Parliament.

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson told ELN: “Since the energy crisis caused by Putin’s illegal invasion our focus has been on delivering essential cost of living support, including paying half a typical household’s energy bills this winter, because this is the primary focus for families across the country.  

  

“At the same time, the UK is decarbonising faster than any other G7 country, having cut our emissions by 48% between 1990 and 2021. Building on this progress, we have launched world-leading blueprints, such as our British Energy Security and Net Zero Strategies, with many plans already implemented to ensure we are on track to achieve our 2050 net zero target.   

 

“Our targets are ambitious, however we haven’t taken our foot off the pedal and our commitment to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2035 remains resolute.”

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