On 18 November, the UK government outlined its Ten Point Plan towards a Green Industrial Revolution. Highlighting the creation of 250,000 jobs, the plan covers ten key focal points that will “allow the UK to forge ahead with eradicating its contribution to climate change by 2050”. These are: offshore wind; hydrogen; nuclear; electric vehicles; public transport, cycling and walking; jet zero and greener maritime; homes and public buildings; carbon capture; nature and innovation and finance. These can be categorised into four focuses: clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies.
While the plan boasts plenty of impressive targets and numbers, is it enough to put the UK on the path to net zero?
“The Ten Point Plan is a welcome boost to many parts of the green economy,” comments Renewable Energy Director Mike Kelly. “While it is a shame that it has taken the dual existential threats of the climate change emergency and a pandemic outbreak to finally incite a more comprehensive call to action, we are finally taking a big step in the right direction. Now it must be put into practice, which is the challenging part.”
In order to achieve the plan’s goals, £12 billion of government investment has been pledged overall. This includes c.£3 billion in immediate support of carbon capture and storage, low carbon hydrogen production and domestic use, and electric vehicle manufacturing and purchase.
“It is encouraging to see incentivisation and promotion of such important emerging technologies,” continues Mike. “Whilst this incentivisation is likely to see significant development activity in those specific technologies and sectors, which is very much welcomed, there still remains significant practical hurdles to negotiate with respect to issues like the generation of sufficient additional energy to meet demand (particularly renewable energy), transmission of that energy to where it is needed, and an efficient and proportionate policy and consenting structure.”
So, while the government’s press release is optimistic in its outlook, “These new commitments backed by government funding send a clear signal to industries across the British economy to invest in the UK,” the plan must evolve from “sending a clear signal” into demonstrating proven, concrete actions. And for this, practicalities must be considered, and longer-term investment will be required.
“The stated longer-term support for offshore wind as part of the Ten Point Plan is very much welcomed,” says Mike. “It will contribute significantly to that additional energy need, as will nuclear and the ongoing wave of onshore wind and solar PV development in the UK. However, the transmission and consenting of such generation are likely to remain significant hurdles.”
It seems that only time will tell whether the Ten Point Plan can be effectively put into practice. In the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the next year will be vital in demonstrating that the UK can not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk.
“Overall, this is a good starting point and a very positive step in the right direction,” concludes Mike. “The industry as a whole is committed to working hard, to developing innovative techniques, and to turning such incentives into reality. With continued government support, the ambitious targets are within our reach.”