Energy White Paper Launched: comment from Clarke Willmott

Priscilla Hall, Head of Green Energy at Hinkley PSG member Clarke Willmott comments on the long-awaited Government Energy White Paper.

In mid-November, the Government outlined its 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution which set the scene for future political direction and priorities. Like many, I awaited with interest the publication of the Government Energy White Paper, which was released recently.

Clarke Willmott has welcomed the 170-page paper which provides more information and details incorporating the impact of Covid-19. I do hope that the UK can lead the way in terms of striving for NetZero with green energy making a valuable economic contribution. The three core pillars of the Government commitments are transforming energy, supporting a green recovery from Covid-19 and creating a fair deal for consumers.

Transforming Energy

Some of the seven main elements had already been announced such as the targeting of 40GW of offshore wind including 1GW floating wind by 2030, alongside the expansion of other low-cost technologies. Probably the two which caught my interest most was firstly the commitment to establish a new UK emissions trading system, giving businesses the certainty needed to invest in low-carbon technologies.

Secondly the aim of bringing one-large scale nuclear project to final investment decision most likely through a different funding model to that of Hinkley Point C, a point which Tom Greatrex, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association made.

“The Climate Change Committee has warned that our zero-carbon generating capacity is set to fall over the next 10 years, so the government’s commitment to an appropriate financing model for new nuclear capacity to cut the cost of capital, increase the pool of investors and reduce the price of electricity is key to unlocking the potential for thousands of clean energy jobs across the country.”

Supporting a Green Recovery from Covid-19

The aims in their simplest form are to grow the economy, supporting thousands of green jobs across the UK, in new green industries with ability to leverage international opportunities.  Potentially this could see the creation of 250,000 jobs by 2030 in offshore wind, hydrogen, nuclear fusion and other emerging green energy sub-sectors.

Probably the most important commitment is the investment of £1bn over the next four years to facilitate the deployment of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) in four industrial clusters, with the ambition to capture 10MtC02 per year by 2030.

Creating a Fair Deal for Consumers

With potentially significant investment by the Government over the coming two decades there could be a perception this will automatically lead to higher energy costs for consumers and businesses. The aim is to protect the fuel poor, providing opportunities to save money on bills, provide warmer and more energy efficient homes both existing and new whilst balancing investment against bill impacts.

In total there eight primary consumer led commitments the Government is looking to implement which will have implications for planners, funders, builders and improvers of property, energy providers amongst others. For example, the setting up of the future homes standard which will ensure that all new build homes are zero carbon ready and ensuring the retail market regulatory framework can cover the wider energy market.   

Energy White Paper: In summary

The Energy White Paper is another positive step in the direction of achieving Net Zero and rejuvenating the economy with ambitious plans with more detail and timelines provided. I would encourage all to review the document as it will impact everyone over the coming years and decades. As always, we will look to see further developments in the eighteen main commitments the Paper.  Some of these include National Policy Statements ensuring the planning policy framework reflects the White Paper polices, the outcomes of the Energy Data Taskforce which will publish its Energy Data Strategy in spring 2021 and how the impact of these policies will affect the role and governance of Ofgem.

With over twenty years of experience in the green energy sector our cross disciplinary team of solicitors will closely monitor changes in legalisation and regulation that are likely to result because of the White Paper. We are here to support our clients from landowners, investors, builders and operators to navigate through these exciting and changing times in green energy helping our clients achieve their goals.

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