The Labour Party has unveiled a new five-point plan that is aimed at securing the UK’s energy supply through a ‘green energy sprint’
Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK and other nations around the world have been vowing to wean themselves off of Russia’s main exports – oil and gas. That is having a knock-on effect on the energy market, with prices rising rapidly as a result.
These rising prices are because the UK and other nations have long been reliant on the natural resources that Russia provides, and quitting cold turkey is going to have some significant short term impacts. However, this event has made the UK Government realise that it needs to be more reliant on the domestic market for ensuring the country’s homes are both heated and powered.
The UK Government has promised to outline its vision for how it plans to reduce energy bills in the future while ensuring the country can produce enough electricity and heat homes. However, while we wait for the UK Government’s plan, the Labour Party has announced its vision for the future, which it is dubbing a ‘green energy sprint’.
Labour’s five-point plan is quite simple; the UK needs to stop relying so heavily on hydrocarbons and transition to a greener future, which doesn’t only include decarbonising the way we generate our electricity, but also ensuring that homes in the UK use energy more efficiently.
So, what are Labour’s plans for the UK?
Step 1: Energy efficiency improvements
There’s no denying that the UK’s housing stock is far from being the most energy-efficient in the world. In fact, according to the latest figures, the average home in England would score just 66 points on an Energy Performance Certificate, while homes in Wales would achieve a score of just 64. That means the average home in England and Wales is rated D for energy efficiency.
While the UK’s housing stock has seen a mild improvement in recent years, it’s still not enough if the UK Government wants to ensure that it reaches net zero by 2050, or even just ensuring the security of the UK’s energy supply. After all, the less energy UK homes use, the less that needs to be produced.
It’s obvious that we need to address the lacklustre energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock, but what exactly does Labour have in mind? Well, it wants to start with insulation. As part of a 10-year upgrade plan costing £6 billion a year, Labour says that it would be able to upgrade 19 million homes, cutting energy bills by up to £400 and cutting gas imports by 15%.
Step 2: Increasing onshore wind power
It’s pretty obvious that the more renewable electricity the UK generates at home, the less it will rely on foreign imports of gas. That’s why Labour wants to double the UK’s onshore wind capacity to 30GW by 2030, enough to power an extra 10 million homes.
This is an area where Labour argues the current Government has failed to capitalise on. Ed Miliband, the Shadow Climate and Net Zero Secretary, noted that the Government’s moratorium on new onshore wind has wasted seven years, with the growth of onshore wind crashing in 2018.
Step 3: Increasing offshore wind power
The UK is a world leader in offshore wind, but the Labour Party argues that there’s still a lot more work to be done. The party argues that the UK can also almost double its offshore wind targets by 2035, while arguing that the Government should be going further and faster on both fixed and floating wind.
The recent ScotWind auction, which secured almost 25GW of offshore wind power, showcases the interest private companies have in installing new wind farms off the coast of the UK. That could easily be replicated in other areas of the sea surrounding the UK, further securing the country’s ability to generate its own electricity without needing foreign imports.
However, there is one bone of contention the Labour Party has with the current way offshore wind powers are installed and maintained. Miliband noted that, “We also have to end the offshoring of offshore jobs,” agreeing with GMB and Unite that jobs in the UK’s renewable industries cannot be offshored.
Step 4: More diverse renewables
Of course wind power isn’t the only way to generate more electricity. The Labour Party also wants to see the UK install more solar panels, as well as “finally getting on with tidal.” The Party also wants to see further investment in the UK’s hydrogen industry, which it describes as “world-leading.”
Step 5: Nuclear power
While renewable electricity is often regarded as a relatively affordable way to generate electricity, the Labour Party is also a big proponent of nuclear power as a way of generating a lot of electricity. That’s because it’s often cited as a more reliable and stable energy source, although that could easily be questioned.
As part of the Labour Party’s support for nuclear, it notes that a decision on Sizewell C needs to be faster, while the country should also ‘get on with’ installing Small Nuclear Reactors.
So, that’s Labour’s plan for the UK to improve its energy security – we’ll soon find out how similar it is to the UK Government’s own plan. However, one area in which the two parties appear to significantly differ is the continued use of fossil fuels.
While Boris Johnson appears to want to achieve net zero by 2050, some in his party want the UK Government to commit to increased fracking to ensure the UK can produce more of its own natural gas. Miliband argued that, “Business as usual, or false solutions such as fracking will not bring down bills or achieve security.”