Missed opportunity in government’s new energy strategy

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The government’s new energy strategy announced this month was another golden opportunity missed in the battle against climate change.

“Although there were some good ideas on offshore wind farms, solar panels and heat pumps to ensure up to 95 per cent of the UK’s electricity could come from low-carbon sources by 2030,” said Midlands green energy expert Ron Fox, “more should have been done on energy efficiency and insulation

He was pleased that ministers were going to consider reforming rules for installing solar panels on homes and commercial buildings to help increase the current solar capacity fivefold by 2035. 

“Also, I think looking at changing planning laws to speed up approvals for new offshore wind farms is a positive move, as is a £30m British ‘heat pump investment accelerator competition’ to reduce demand for gas,” he said.

The government has set a new target of producing up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of energy from offshore wind by 2030, which officials said would be more than enough to power every home in the UK.

“Allowing onshore wind farms to develop partnerships with ‘supportive communities’ to host turbines in exchange for guaranteed cheaper energy bills is imaginative,” added Ron, of Noreus Ltd at Keele University, Staffordshire. 

But ministers say there will be no “wholesale changes” to recent planning regulations for onshore wind turbines and pointed out that the UK already had about 30 GW of energy a year from that source.

Although it is one of the cheapest forms of power, there have been complaints that wind turbines are an eyesore and noisy.

Ron also agreed with doubling hydrogen production to help provide cleaner energy for industry as well as for power, transport and potentially heating. 

He also gave a cautious welcome to the government plans to build up to eight new nuclear reactors to cut the UK’s reliance on oil and gas with the pledge to deliver the equivalent to one nuclear reactor a year. 

A new body called Great British Nuclear will be launched with the aim of producing 24 GW of electricity from that source, which is 25 per cent of the projected electricity demand.

“But I totally disagree with a new licensing round for North Sea oil and gas projects being launched in the summer,” added Ron. 

“I accept that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than doing so abroad, but I still think it is a backward step and we should be putting this money and effort into developing green energy more.

“I also cannot believe there are no new policies of saving energy by insulating buildings, particularly as the UK has the least energy efficient housing in Western Europe.

“This is the cheapest and quickest way to give lower energy bills to people who are facing huge increases for their gas and electricity at the moment, at the same time as cutting harmful CO2 emissions.”

For more advice on solar panels, insulation and other green energy matters contact Ron on 0845 474 6641. 

Caption: Missed opportunity – The government’s new energy strategy announced this month ‘should have included more incentives to insulate buildings’.

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