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Britain eyes nuclear, wind, fossil fuels in bid for energy security


Alongside a ramp up in nuclear power, the British Energy Security Strategy envisages up to 50 GW of offshore wind and 10 GW of hydrogen – half of which would be so-called green hydrogen – by 2030.

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Although the U.K. government revealed some details about its “bold” and long-awaited energy security strategy, critics have criticized its use of fossil fuels, as well as what they consider a lackluster ambition.

In a release Wednesday, the government heralded a “major acceleration of homegrown power in Britain’s plan for greater energy independence.”

The plans — known as the British Energy Security Strategy — mean that more “cleaner” and “affordable” energy will be produced in Great Britain, the government said, as the country seeks to “boost long-term energy independence, security and prosperity.”

Now, the government wants to develop 24 gigawatts (or more) of nuclear power in order to meet its projected 2050 electricity demand. There could be eight reactors in the strategy.

Plans include nuclear power, up to 50GW offshore wind, and 10GW of low carbon hydrogen. At least half of this capacity would be “green hydrogen” by 2030. According to the government, solar power could grow fivefold between 2035 and 2030 from its current 14 GW.

When it comes to onshore wind — a divisive subject for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party — the government said it would consult on “developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills.”

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The government said that its strategy was to “support the production of domestic crude oil and natural gas in the nearer future”, triggering outrage from environmentalists. This fall, a round of licensing for North Sea oil and gas projects is scheduled for launch. It claimed that its strategy could lead to 95% of Great Britain’s electricity being “low-carbon” by 2030.

Kwasi Kwarteng is the country’s economic and energy secretary. He stated, “The simple truth of the matter is that we’re less likely to pay high prices for fossil fuels if we have more clean, cheap power within our borders.”

It is essential to maximize North Sea production and increase renewables as well as new nuclear. This will ensure that we have energy independence for the next few years.

This strategy was published at a moment when Russia’s invasion in Ukraine raised concerns over energy security. Russia is a significant supplier of oil-and gas. Its actions in Ukraine have prompted many countries to seek ways to lessen their dependence.

In response to the invasion, the U.K. has said it will “phase out imports of Russian oil” — which meets 8% of its total oil demand — by the end of this year. Russian natural gas, according to the government, made up “less that 4%” in its total supply. Ministers also said they were exploring options for reducing this.

Fool’s gold?

While Kwarteng, Business Secretary of the Treasury was positive about the strategy’s prospects and the plans for the future, some people were not so impressed.  

Danny Gross from Friends of the Earth said that “This strategy fails because it doesn’t do the most obvious thing that would lower energy demand and protect households against price rises.”

“Delving deeper into the UK’s treasure trove of renewables is the surest path to meeting our energy needs — not the fool’s gold of fossil fuels.”

Gross acknowledged that the increase in offshore wind projects was welcome, but he stated that ministers must “go further to make use of the vast resources onshore”

Lisa Fischer, the programme leader at E3G’s climate change think tank, said that renewables were the way forward for the North Sea.

She said that although a push to offshore wind is welcomed, the UK should not embrace oil and gas in the same way. This will slow down the country’s progress towards affordable and sustainable energy.

“Moral and economic madness”

In the same week as the publication of the British Energy Security Strategy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report.

The IPCC released a statement saying that to limit global warming, major energy sector transitions are required. The IPCC stated in a news release that this would require significant reductions in fossil fuel usage, increased energy efficiency and widespread electrification.

Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General, made no apologies for his comments on the report. He said that climate activists can sometimes be portrayed as “dangerous radicals”. He said, “But countries which increase the production of fossil fuels are truly dangerous radicals.”

According to the International Energy Agency, 2021 is expected by March. saw energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise to their highest level in history.The IEA discovered that energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide increased by 6% between 2021 and reached a record 36.3 billion metric tonnes.

Guterres also warned that planet Earth had come out of last year’s COP26 summit at Glasgow with “a certain naivety” in the same month. “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe.”