Daily Express

NOT ANOTHER ENERGY BILLS SHOCK!

PM reveals power strategy to help end fuel ‘blackmail’, but we face 3 years of pain

- By Macer Hall

BRITAIN faces crippling energy bills for at least three years.

Despite the Prime Minister’s “much praised” power strategy revealed yesterday to reduce our

dependence on foreign gas and oil, there will be no immediate relief from the pain of soaring fuel costs.

Boris Johnson said the UK needed to generate its own power to stop the country being “blackmaile­d” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The PM pledged “clean, affordable, secure power for generation­s to come” in his plan for building a homegrown energy industry.

But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng conceded the proposals do little to help cut soaring bills in the next two or three years.

He said: “The strategy is more of a medium-term, three, four or five-year answer but that doesn’t mean that we can’t address this. It’s really important that we get ...an energy policy that means we can have more security and independen­ce.”

Both Mr Johnson and Mr Kwarteng said further measures would be taken to help households tackle rising energy bills.

The pledge is set against a backdrop of spiralling prices. Consumers were warned yesterday they may be £900 worse off this year due to an “historic fall” in living standards.

Analysts at accountant­s PwC warned the lowest earners face a £1,300 blow but the hit may be worse if the Ukraine crisis escalates.

While finance giant Goldman Sachs said the increased cost of wholesale gas would impact GDP growth. The firm is assuming that energy prices will rise another 55 per cent rise in October – with a 90 per cent increase possible should there be a total shutdown of fuel imports due to the war.

Burdens

Firms and campaigner­s expressed disappoint­ment at the delay before the British Energy Security Strategy cuts bills.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufactur­ers’ body Make UK, said: “These projects cannot be delivered quickly and at a time of spiralling energy costs and a myriad of other financial burdens.

“Industry desperatel­y needs urgent action on the part of the Government to reduce energy prices.”

Alex Veitch, head of policy and public affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The transition to the cheaper, cleaner energy sources of tomorrow is vital. However prices are soaring today and businesses need support now.”

Key measures in the Government strategy include up to eight more nuclear power stations and a streamlini­ng of planning laws that will allow an expansion of solar power and offshore wind power generation.

The stations could be approved for existing sites, including decommissi­oned facilities at Wylfa on Anglesey plus Oldbury, Glos and Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. Nuclear facilities are also designated for Moorside, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; Hinkley, Somerset; Heysham, Lancs and Hartlepool.

Ministers aim to ensure that 95 per cent of UK electricit­y comes from low-carbon sources by the end of the decade. The strategy also calls for 50 gigawatts of capacity to be sourced from offshore wind by 2030 – enough to power every home in the country.

Some 5GW should come from floating offshore wind sites in deeper seas. Planning reforms would slash approval times for building wind farms, from four years to one.

The plan was more cautious about onshore wind power generation, reflecting Tory MPs’ concerns about the effects of turbines on the countrysid­e. Ministers vowed to work with local communitie­s on expanding the onshore sector. Ambitious targets were set for high-tech future fuels. The strategy aims to double the

Government’s goal of 10GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030, with at least half in “green” hydrogen produced from renewable electricit­y rather than from natural gas.

A £30million contest to manufactur­e heat pumps will be launched, and there are ambitions to increase solar capacity with a consultati­on on the rules for such projects.

But Mr Johnson’s strategy also sees oil and gas playing a key role in energy supply for many years. A fresh licensing round for North Sea projects is planned for the autumn to cover the “nearer term”, despite this week’s UN report calling for rapid big cuts in fossil fuel use, to stop dangerous warming.

The Prime Minister wrote in the 12-page document: “If we’re going to get prices down and keep them there for the long term, we need a flow of energy that is affordable, clean and above all secure.

“We need a power supply that’s made in Britain, for Britain – and that’s what this plan is all about.We can’t simply pull the plug on all fossil fuels overnight without the lights going out all over Europe. We’re going to make better use of the oil and gas in our own backyard by giving the energy fields of the North Sea a new lease of life.

“For years, government­s have dodged the big decisions on energy, but not this one. We’ve got the ambition, we’ve got the vision – and, with this plan, we’re going to bring clean, affordable, secure power to the people for generation­s to come.” Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the strategy was “too little, too late” to help families with rising costs.

He wrote it off as “a cobbled-together list of things that could and should have been done over the last 10 to 12 years, and it doesn’t even tackle really important things like insulating homes, which could save £400 on everybody’s bill”.

Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastruc­ture Commission, said: “The Government should be credited with its scale of ambition to expand offshore wind and solar generation.The challenge is to take these stretching targets and turn them into delivery of cheaper electricit­y into people’s homes as quickly as possible.”

Mike Thompson, of Government advisers the Climate Change Committee, said: “The Government has doubled down on its Net Zero Strategy.” Prof Peter Bruce, vice-president of the Royal Society, called the plan “a step in the right direction, but the words are the easy bit”. While Tamara Sandoul, from the Chartered Institute of Environmen­tal Health, warned: “Energy security that is based on fossil fuels can only be short term.”

BRITAIN now has an energy strategy to ensure we can keep the lights on while avoiding dependency on dictators. The country will harness a broad range of energy sources, with nuclear and offshore wind playing vital roles. This will allow us to slash carbon emissions while ensuring security of supply.

The Ukraine crisis has demonstrat­ed why Britain must not rely on the exports of foreign powers to heat our homes and run our businesses.The good news is that plentiful and affordable clean energy is within our reach, and it would be foolish not to grasp this opportunit­y.

No, the strategy will not tackle the immediate crisis caused by rocketing energy bills. That is a parallel challenge; this strategy is about ensuring that children grow up in a country that is not in danger of being plunged into darkness.

It is essential the document serves as a springboar­d for action. In hindsight, we might wish that much more progress towards energy dependence had been achieved by past government­s. Investment must be unlocked so that new offshore wind turbines and the best possible nuclear power stations are constructe­d.

We can approach this mission with optimism; the pace at which breakthrou­ghs in renewable technology have arrived is astonishin­g and should only accelerate. This energy revolution will generate new jobs, support hi-tech industries and help make levelling up aspiration­s a reality.

 ?? ?? Guided tour tour... Boris Johnson on site visit with Hinkley Point C boss Stuart Crooks
Guided tour tour... Boris Johnson on site visit with Hinkley Point C boss Stuart Crooks
 ?? ?? Measures...Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday
Measures...Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday
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