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UK Prime Minister launches 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched an ambitious plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which promises to create 250,000 jobs. Though some question whether the planned £12bn of government investment goes nearly far enough, despite the expectation that it will spur three times as much private sector investment by 2030.

The much-anticipated plan will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, 10 years earlier than previously stated, and outlaw new hybrid vehicles five years later, to meet climate change targets. There will also be a significant expansion of grants for domestic energy improvements and new funding for nuclear and hydrogen power.

The measures are targeted particularly at the ‘industrial heartlands of the UK’, aiming to drive forward the ‘green industrial revolution and build green jobs and industries of the future’.

The 10-point plan is claimed to ‘build around the UK’s strengths’, namely:

  1. Electric vehicles – The government has brought forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by a decade to 2030. This is one of the earliest deadlines of its kind in the world. Hybrid cars can be sold until 2035 provided they can drive a ‘significant’ distance in zero emission mode. The government is also committed to consultation of phasing out new diesel lorries.
  2. Public transport – The government has already committed £2bn for cycling and walking as an alternative to the car, with thousands of miles of new cycle lanes. On public transport, money has been allocated for electric and hydrogen buses, with at least one town or city getting a fully electric fleet by 2025, according to The Times.
  3. Jet zero and greener maritime – In support of ‘difficult-to-decarbonise’ industries, more money is to be invested in research projects for zero emission planes and ships. Earlier this year Johnson convened the Jet Zero Council with representatives from the aviation industry and experts on how to create a zero emission long-haul plane. While short-range electric flight is already a reality for very small planes. Industry has also focused on developing hybrid-electric models, using jet fuel for take-off.
  4. Offshore wind – The plan reiterates the government’s commitment that the UK will produce more than enough electricity from offshore wind to power every home in the country by 2030. This will entail quadrupling how much wind the UK currently produces offshore to 40 GW by 2030 potentially creating up to 60,000 jobs. The government has said it will award subsidy contracts next year to support the next wave of offshore wind projects.
  5. Hydrogen – Tens of thousands of homes could be heated using hydrogen instead of natural gas by 2030 under the government’s plans. Home heating systems will need to be adapted, though some may use a mix of hydrogen and natural gas in the interim. The government has committed £500mn to support hydrogen. However, producing it cheaply and more greenly using renewable electricity is seen to be a challenge. Working with industry, there is an aim to generate 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes. Interestingly, the government is aiming to develop the first town to be heated by hydrogen by the end of the decade; Leeds is believed to be a front runner according to DNV-GL. About £240mn of the funding will go into new facilities to produce hydrogen, and is likely to entail using low carbon electricity to make hydrogen through electrolysis.
  6. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) – The UK aims to become a world-leader in CCS technology, with a target to remove 10mn tonnes of CO2 by 2030, in a bid to reduce global warming. The plan apparently doubles the ambition for how many sites will be developed. The government wants to see two CCS clusters developed by the mid-2020s, and two by 2030. This is anticipated to support 50,000 jobs in areas such as Humber, Teesside, Merseyside, Grangemouth and Port Talbot.
  7. Nuclear – A total of £525mn has been pledged to help develop large-scale nuclear and the next generation of small and advanced reactors. Rolls-Royce has already announced plans to get involved in production of small reactors if sufficient funding is provided by the government.
  8. Homes and public building – The government has pledged to install 60,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 as part of its plans to make homes, schools and hospitals greener. Ministers want to replace gas boilers with electric heat pumps, which extract heat from the ground or air surrounding a building. However, the technology is expensive and there is currently lack of sufficient trained installers. Earlier this year the government announced a £2bn green homes grant scheme, with vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving measures.
  9. Nature – The government has plans to plant 30,000 hectares of woodland a year, which it believes could help tackle unemployment.
  10. Finance and innovation – The government has pledged to make the City of London ‘the global centre of green finance’ supporting development of cutting-edge technologies.


So, what has been the reaction?

Commenting on the plan for a green industrial revolution, OGUK Chief Executive Deirdre Michie said: ‘We are pleased to see the government is committed to its ambitious plans for tackling emissions in spite of all the other challenges we face. Our industry is already taking action… and we were one of the first major sectors in the UK to embrace the government’s target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The good news for jobs and the economy is that with the right support, companies based here in the UK have the expertise to make us world leaders in tackling emissions, including through carbon capture and hydrogen production, both of which are key to the clean energy system of the future.’

Net Zero North West’s Executive Chairman Ged Barlow, which is preparing a roadmap to deliver the UK’s first low carbon industrial cluster by 2030, also welcomed the plan. ‘There has been a lot of talk about net zero but very little clarity on how as a country we get there. We welcome the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan but now we need to see the detail of the policy that sits beneath it. We have the technology to deliver on net zero but need a joined up and long-term policy framework to underpin
investment.’

Matt Rooney, the IMecE’s Engineering Policy Advisor said the 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution is ‘a collection of the various policies on decarbonisation that the government has been working on for some time’. And emphasised: ‘The challenge now is to bring this all together into a practical and deliverable plan with joined-up thinking across the whole energy system.’

Rachel Eyres, Business Unit Director Energy & Utilities at engineering consultancy Expleo believes Johnson’s green recovery plan is a ‘game-changer for the planet – particularly the focus on how we heat our homes and offshore wind – both of which are absolutely vital for reducing carbon emissions’. However, he admits: ‘strengthening our capabilities in this area won’t be easy’.

Anna-Marie Slot of law firm Ashurst says: ‘Boris’ plan sounds good; however, the real question is its impact. Government initiatives need to be funded and take the first risk on innovation and developing scalable solutions. These actions are a first step but they need to focus on real change in business ecosystems to create resilient, sustainable companies and economies and not just a feel good tree planting endeavour.’

Finally, Johnson’s new 10-point plan has been labelled ‘inadequate’ by critics like Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Shadow Secretary of State Ed Miliband who said: ‘The funding in the government’s long-awaited 10-point plan doesn’t remotely meet the scale of what’s needed… it pales in comparison to the tens of billions committed by France and Germany.’

The EI has a number of projects in hand relating to points 3–6 of the government’s plan. See the EI’s website at
www.energyinst.org and www.gplusoffshorewind.com

 

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