Green Energy – Looking to the future
Dale Edwards, shares his thoughts on the importance of the UK Government creating, developing, and implementing a clear green energy strategy for the future.
At a recent Conservative Party conference Boris Johnson claimed the UK would become a world leader in green energy by announcing £160m of investment in infrastructure to increase electricity generation from offshore wind.
The ambition to increase offshore wind capacity significantly by 2030, along with new jobs creation and part of the UK levelling up agenda, is very welcome, but much more detail is needed. This promise, according to the Government, is the first stage of a ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, with more information to be communicated later in the year. It will be interesting to see what will be announced in the coming weeks and months to supplement the start of the green industrial revolution ambition and how it will be achieved along with the long-awaited energy white paper.
In the days after the conference I asked a range of friends and business connections to describe what green energy means to them and what the other nine-points could include. Their responses were varied but the core of most of the answers focused on generating electricity from renewable sources, with wind and solar power dominating responses. Many who were asked did not automatically include generating power from alternative green sources such as nuclear, bioenergy, hydroelectric and district heating schemes, all established sources of low carbon energy generation. I learnt a valuable lesson; that just because I have been involved in green energy for a number of years, it does not mean that all are aware of what the sector consists of currently and in the future, along with the value in terms of achieving NetZero, jobs and economic output.
The future in renewable energy
When talking about the future, there are many innovative ideas and solutions being brought forward including tidal, wave, hydrogen and fusion. Some have received increasing government interest and seed funding along with supply chain enthusiasm. It will be interesting to see if any of these will be part of the 10-point green industrial revolution, as potential solutions for the future could bring long term economic growth for the UK.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about hydrogen being introduced to the green energy mix. Whilst significant work lies ahead, hydrogen has the potential of being a game changer in the battle with climate change. Already we have seen trials in the UK of using hydrogen as a form of power for trains and I look forward with interest to see how this will be scaled up to make a solid commercial and environmental case.
EDF is exploring small scale production of hydrogen as part of its plans to build a new nuclear plant at Sizewell to kick start the hydrogen economy by powering an electrolyser, which could provide fuel for construction vehicles amongst other applications. Nuclear hydrogen production technologies have significant potential and benefits over other sources that might be considered for growing the hydrogen share as part of the UK green energy strategy, dependent on the type of the individual nuclear power plant. However, alternative use of hydrogen including busing, road haulage and developing district heating schemes should not be forgotten.
Therefore, there are two fundamental questions which need answering by the Government. Firstly, will we go for tried and tested green energy technologies or embrace the potential of the future? Secondly, what practical support including planning, funding, investment in skills and supply chains will the Government provide to enable the new green industrial revolution to take shape for the benefit of the environment and economy? Irrespective, it is great news that green energy is front and centre of the post COVID-19 recovery plans.
Clarke Willmott’s nationally rated team of green energy specialist solicitors from a wide cross section of disciplines has extensive experience of delivering seamless, sector-focused advice on all aspects of energy generation and are excited in what the future could be. We have built longstanding relationships in the low carbon energy sector over the last 20 years working with landowners, developers, contractors and operators and are looking forward to supporting businesses with the green recovery. In the coming months we will be organising a series of insightful and engaging webinars in collaboration with partner businesses and organisations, discussing a range of green energy related topics to help greater understanding and develop new opportunities.