Grant Shapps to announce multi-billion pound ‘energy revolution’
Grant Shapps is set to announce a multi-billion pound investment in what the government has dubbed an "energy revolution", with a shift towards more affordable and clean power.
In a major speech, the energy secretary will unveil a “radical shift” in the UK’s energy system away from fossil fuels.
This includes the announcement of the first projects in the carbon capture project, a £160m fund to support floating offshore wind projects, and opening a fresh round of a scheme designed to incentivise investment into renewable electricity.
However, the announcement on Thursday will be limited in scope after chancellor Jeremy Hunt admitted on Wednesday that the government will not lay out its response to the US and EU green industrial strategies until the autumn.
Asked at the Treasury Committee if there was a risk of the UK being squeezed out by the US and EU, Mr Hunt said: “I said in the budget that I would return in the autumn statement with a fuller response and there was a reason for that, which is I want the UK to remain competitive.
“And I needed to see – which I wasn’t able to do at the [March] budget – what the EU response was going to be before we formulated our full national response. So we will return to this, and we’re doing a lot of very detailed work.”
It comes as the chancellor accused US president Joe Biden of leading a “distortive” green subsidy race and warned that the UK will not go “toe to toe” with the United States or EU in offering billions in the way of green subsidies or tax breaks.
Writing in The Times, Mr Hunt said that Britain would focus on a “pro-growth regulatory regime” which he hopes will incentivise private investment and ensure the UK market is competitive.
Mr Hunt’s admission means that today’s policy unveiling by Mr Shapps - that was unofficially dubbed green day - is focused solely on energy security, and does not have the plethora of climate and energy policies expected by business leaders.
Greenpeace UK’s head of climate, Mel Evans, said that “Green Day has turned into Groundhog day” and the government had yet again failed on climate action.
Ms Evans said: “As climate chaos hits our shores and millions struggle to pay their bills, ministers have again spectacularly failed to rise to the challenge. This piecemeal, re-heated and confusing announcement is just not enough to meaningfully tackle climate change or to provide secure, affordable energy for households.
“Hundreds of thousands of homes will remain uninsulated by next winter. Cheap wind power is still effectively banned onshore in England. There’s no net zero mandate for the energy regulator. And our policy on electric vehicles remains - at best - stuck in second gear.
“Ministers talk about leading the world, but the UK is not even making it to the starting blocks of the green tech race. A good government would go all in on renewable, efficient energy to give millions of people warm homes, clean air, lower bills and a safe climate - but Powering Up Britain is a far cry from what this country needs.”
Ed Miliband, Labour’s Shadow Climate and Net Zero Secretary, described Mr Shapps’s plans as “weak and feeble” involving “no new announcements, no new investment and reheated policy.”
He added: “This confirms once and for all that, after thirteen years of failed energy policy, that Britain under the Conservatives will be stuck with higher energy bills, energy insecurity, lost jobs and climate delay.
“These announcements are most notable for their glaring omissions: no removal of the onshore wind ban which is costing families hundreds of pounds on bills , no new investment for energy efficiency which could cut bills and imports, no response to the Inflation Reduction Act which could help Britain win the global race for clean energy jobs.”