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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

To secure a net zero future, the UK must recognise its place in the world


6 min read

Wind turbine and construction vessel at sea Photo: Shutterstock
The rapid development of offshore wind is one of the UK’s success stories to date, but there is doubt that ambitious future targets can be met

Photo: Shutterstock

The UK was a decarbonisation pioneer, particularly in replacing coal-fired power generation with renewables (and gas). But the country is rather less well placed to build on its initial success and faces considerable investment challenges, writes Mark Williams, Senior Analyst with trade association Energy UK.

We have a tendency in the UK to label our successes as ‘world-leading’. This might help flatter a weary electorate, but superlatives like this cloud our ability to look beyond the past and focus on the challenges we face today. This is particularly true when it comes to the energy transition.


The UK has made genuinely impressive progress in a relatively short amount of time. But as Energy UK is exploring in its The Clean Growth Gap series, our past successes are no indicator of future prospects when it comes to the rollout of clean energy. The UK is no longer at the front of the pack, and international developments are likely to erode our position further unless we recognise the challenges that face us, play to our strengths, and make the most of the opportunities presented by the energy transition.


The temptation to boast about the UK’s progress is easy to understand. In reducing emissions from our power sector by two-thirds since 1990, the UK genuinely has been in the vanguard of decarbonisation. A large part of this success (alongside phasing out coal) has been our deployment of offshore wind, which truly is among the best in the world, behind only China.


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