UK bill aims to drive clean energy transition

New measures to propel the UK’s transition to a cleaner, affordable, home grown energy system has been introduced in a move the government said will further boost the country’s energy security and better protect consumers.

The Energy Security Bill, announced as part of the Queen’s Speech, was presented to Parliament by business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

It follows immediate support from the government to help people with rising energy costs and puts into law measures to boost long-term energy independence, security, and prosperity including in the British Energy Security Strategy announced earlier this year.

“The Bill will help drive an unprecedented £100 billion of private sector investment by 2030 into new British industries that are built to last and help diversify our domestic energy supply, including hydrogen and offshore wind, and support around 480,000 green jobs by the end of the decade,” said the government in a statement.

Kwarteng said: “To ensure we are no longer held hostage by rogue states and volatile markets, we must accelerate plans to build a truly clean, affordable, home-grown energy system in Britain.

“This is the biggest reform of our energy system in a decade. We’re going to slash red tape, get investment into the UK, and grab as much global market share as possible in new technologies to make this plan a reality.

“The measures in the Energy Security Bill will allow us to stand on our own two feet again, reindustrialise our economy and protect the British people from eye-watering fossil fuel prices into the future.”

Measures set to be introduced include those to support the deployment of low carbon technologies at scale such as carbon, capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen, helping drive investment by giving businesses the certainty they need. The government is determined to ensure Britain secures a ‘first mover advantage’ in seizing the global market share in these technologies, helping to attract new private capital into the UK which will create jobs and reindustrialise parts of the country.

“Measures included in the Bill, such as those encouraging the deployment of heat networks and driving down the cost of ultra-efficient electric heat pumps, will help scale up the installation of key clean technologies for the future – reducing the UK’s dependency on global fossil fuel markets and exposure to volatile gas prices,” the statement added. “Research shows that, on average, heat network consumers pay a lower price for their heat than those on an individual gas boiler, while replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump can reduce a home’s energy use by well over 50%.

“Other new powers will enable the extension of the energy price cap beyond 2023, shielding millions of customers across the country from being overcharged. The price cap limits the amount suppliers can charge for each unit of gas and electricity and for the daily standing charge.”

To prevent fuel supply disruption, such as from industrial action, malicious protest and for reasons of national security, the Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to pre-emptively prevent potential disruption to the downstream oil sector. The Bill requires industry to take measures to improve their own resilience, requires industry to provide vital information to ensure government can identify potential disruptions, and other reforms to ensure continuity of supply.

Chief Executive of National Grid, John Pettigrew, said: “The Energy Security Bill builds on the positive steps the government outlined in its British Energy Security Strategy. National Grid plays a vital role at the heart of the energy transition, and we look forward to continuing to work together with Government to realise its bold net zero goals including delivering 50 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and establishing an independent system operator and planner.”

Director of External Affairs at the Energy Networks Association, Ross Easton, said: “As the first dedicated energy legislation in nearly a decade, today’s Energy Security Bill is a welcome opportunity to enable a cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy system. With record levels of electric vehicles, renewable energy capacity and heat pumps being introduced, alongside new technologies such as low carbon hydrogen, the role of our energy networks in integrating these technologies into the energy system has never been more important.”

CEO of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Ruth Herbert, added: “Carbon capture, utilisation and storage has a critical role to play in reducing the UK’s emissions and in the development of our industrial regions, where investment in new infrastructure can put us at the forefront of the global net zero transition.

“The CCSA has worked with the UK government on a credible investment framework for CCUS deployment and we are pleased to see the Energy Security Bill laid in Parliament today to implement it.  We look forward to confirmation of the first wave of carbon capture projects and a clear plan for subsequent projects to move ahead as soon as possible, given their vital role in our future low carbon economy, driving inward investment and maintaining and creating green jobs for the future.”