In light of high global energy prices, provoked by surging demand and Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, the Prime Minister has been clear that it’s right we move away from dependence on Russian gas and increase our self-reliance for energy security.
I welcome that the Government’s Energy Security Strategy sets out plans to accelerate the deployment of wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen, while supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term – which could see 95 per cent of electricity being low carbon by 2030.
The Government has already announced that the import of Russian oil and oil products will be phased out by the end of this year, which makes up roughly eight per cent of UK demand. Further, while the proportion of gas we import from Russia is less than four per cent, I know that the Government is keen to end this altogether. Recognising the importance of these fuels to our energy transition and energy security, and that producing gas domestically has a lower carbon footprint than importing, a licensing round for new North Sea oil and gas projects is planned to launch in Autumn.
I also warmly welcome the new ambition to produce up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 – more than enough to power every home in the UK – of which up to 5GW will come from floating offshore wind sites in deeper seas. This will be underpinned by new planning reforms to speed up approvals for new offshore wind farms. I know the Government is also looking to increase the UK’s current solar capacity, which could grow up to 5 times by 2035, and aims to double our ambition for low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
The strategy will also see the acceleration of nuclear power, aiming to produce up to 24GW by 2050, which could mean delivering up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade. My ministerial colleagues assure me that nuclear presents a safe, clean, and reliable source of power and I am encouraged that a new government body, Great British Nuclear, will be set up immediately to bring forward new projects, backed by substantial funding, including a £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund.
The Energy Security Strategy builds on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, and, together with the Net Zero Strategy, is driving an unprecedented £100 billion of private sector investment into new British industries and will support 480,000 new clean jobs by the end of the decade.
Cleaner, more affordable, domestically produced energy will be key to boosting our long-term energy independence and prosperity, and I look forward to witnessing the Strategy's long-term benefits.