Last reviewed 15 December 2020

The Government has released plans to transform the UK’s energy system to meet legally binding Net Zero commitments by 2050.

Building on the Prime Minister’s Ten point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, the Energy White Paper sets out specific steps the Government will take over the next decade to cut emissions from industry, transport, and buildings, in line with commitments to achieve net zero emission targets by 2050, based on baseline figures for 1990.

Launching the White Paper, Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said the plans are in line with government commitments on climate action and represent “a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources”.

“Through a major programme of investment and reform, we are determined to both decarbonise our economy in the most cost-effective way, while creating new sunrise industries and revitalising our industrial heartlands that will support new green jobs for generations to come,” Sharma added.

The White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future, sets out goals to reduce carbon emissions by 230 million metric tonnes, equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently.

An expansion of renewable energy and new nuclear power will be at the heart of a plan to transform the UK power system, with a further £240 Hydrogen Fund to support industry investment in a five gigawatts hydrogen production target by 2030.

£1.3bn will be spent on electric vehicle charging stations on motorways and A roads, as the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles comes to an end in 2030 and the anticipated growth in electric vehicles gathers momentum.

Up to £525 million will be used to support another large-scale nuclear plant. Talks are underway with French energy company EDF on a new £20 billion Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, identical to the new reactor at Hinkley Point, which currently has cost overruns of around £3bn and is behind schedule. A £385 million Advanced Nuclear Fund will also be available for small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors, alongside £220 million for nuclear fusion.

The White Paper also includes plans to invest £1 billion in four Carbon Capture and Storage clusters by the end of the decade, with two to begin construction by the mid-2020, which the Government estimates could capture up to 10 megatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030.

Other measures outlined in the White Paper including the new UK emissions trading scheme (UK ETS) which starts on 1 January, will run on similar rules to the current EU ETS. A 40GW offshore wind expansion is also planned, including 1GW of floating wind, both of which are expected to be fully operational by 2030.

In a statement, the Government said energy policies outlined in the White Paper will help build a more resilient green economy and support up to 220,000 jobs over the next decade across all four UK nations.

Further details outlined in the White Paper are available here.