Last reviewed 7 April 2022

The Government’s long-awaited energy security strategy reveals plans to boost nuclear power, increase fossil fuel production and build more windfarms, but with little commitment to improve energy efficiency measures.

The new energy strategy is set to be unveiled in full today and comes amid rising international fossil fuel prices and surging energy costs for businesses and households.

In a press briefing today, the Government says the plans will “supercharge clean energy and accelerate deployment, which could see 95% of Great Britain’s electricity set to be low carbon by 2030”.

Announcing the new strategy, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said the plans would strengthen energy self-sufficient and “reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control”.

“We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain — from new nuclear to offshore wind — in the decade ahead,” Johnson added.

The strategy includes a major increase of nuclear power capacity; with eight new reactors generating up to 24GW by 2050 and representing around 25% of projected electricity demand, Small Modular Reactors will form part of the nuclear project pipeline.

Offshore wind capacity will also be expanded up to 50GW by 2030 — 10GW more than current plans. New planning reforms aim to cut approval times for new offshore wind farms from four years to one year. But expected proposals to increase new onshore wind power are much less ambitious and limited to “a number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind” subject to further consultation.

The Government has also announced a new licensing round for new North Sea oil and gas projects planned to launch in autumn, which it says is important to our energy security. Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has also ordered a review into the fracking ban just over two years after the Government imposed the ban because of concerns over earthquakes linked to the Lancashire exploratory sites.

The inclusion of fossil fuels and a lack of any further commitment to energy efficiency measures has disappointed politicians, green business leaders and climate experts alike.

Commenting on the strategy, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: “Handing out new fossil fuel licences, when we should be sending a message that no new oil and gas developments or fracking wells are compatible with keeping below 1.5°C heating, flies in the face of all the Prime Minister's rhetoric at COP26 last November.”

Labour also argued that the plan does nothing to support millions of people now facing an energy bills crisis. Ed Miliband, Shadow Climate Change Secretary, said: “No reversal of the ban on onshore wind and not a penny more on energy efficiency. These decisions will force households to pay hundreds of pounds more for their energy bills and keep the UK dependent on imported gas for longer.”

The Government said it plans to continue working with industry in the coming weeks to drive forward its energy security strategy “as fast as industry can deliver”.