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Huge disappointment for onshore wind in 2022 Energy Security Strategy

Wind Farm

The UK government has today, published its Energy Security Strategy in response to rising energy costs in the UK. The government’s aim with the updated Energy Security Strategy is to achieve energy security and independence in a more uncertain global energy market.

The strategy pledges to increase renewable and low-carbon energy production with the aspiration of meeting 95% of energy demand from renewable and low-carbon sources. While low-carbon energy production has been fast-tracked, many are describing the energy security strategy as a missed opportunity that jeopardises net zero ambitions and does not provide any short term solutions to tackle rising energy costs.

The UK Energy Security Strategy outlines ambitious plans to boost low carbon energy production through fast tracking the development of offshore wind by reforming planning laws. Plans include approving the development of eight new nuclear reactors. These reforms are designed to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels, which are the primary cause of climate change through the emission of vast quantities of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, with the Prime Minister aiming for 100% of the UK’s energy to be produced from clean energy sources by 2035.

In light of the rising energy prices, the updated UK energy strategy has been described as an ‘enormous disappointment’ and does little to offer short term solutions that allow the rapid development of affordable renewable energy capacity such as onshore wind. Furthermore, reaching 100% of energy production by 2035, looks unrealistic with the long development and construction times imposed on onshore wind, while offshore and nuclear are more expensive and have additional construction challenges.

Onshore and Offshore wind

Wind power was a hotly debated topic ahead of the publication of the new energy strategy with many hoping for development boosts for offshore and onshore wind. With the Prime Minister aiming for 100% of energy production from clean energy sources by 2035, it is estimated that offshore wind capacity would need to quadruple and onshore wind developments would have to double by 2030. With strict planning controls leading to long development times, planning reforms would be a huge benefit to the wind industry.

Onshore wind energy is currently the cheapest form of renewable energy, with the price of onshore wind dropping by 30% over the last four years alone and with sky rocketing energy prices, the further rollout of onshore wind energy would represent the best economical, technical and environmental solution. Yet. Development of onshore wind farms has reduced by 94% since 2015, due to the end of government subsidies and the introduction of stricter planning regulations resulting in the development of onshore windfarms taking up to seven years.

RenewableUK commented on the Government’s new Energy Strategy stating: “We are disappointed that reforms to the onshore market in England do not go further. The past few weeks have shown that despite all industry's hard work, we have not done enough to change hearts and minds in the Conservative Party. However, we will work with the government to maximise the opportunity in the community projects and build on this”.

Oil and Gas Exploration

Despite the Governments much lauded approach to tackling emissions and reaching net zero by 2050, culminating in hosting COP26 in Glasgow last year, the government has committed to further oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea, claiming it has a lower carbon footprint than importing from abroad and will be cheaper for the UK consumer. Yet, 80% of oil and gas production within UK waters is exported and with the long development time frames of new productions, it is likely that any new development won’t start producing oil and gas until closer to 2050, which seriously jeopardises the UK’s net zero targets.

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