Powering Up Britain: The Net Zero Growth Plan
5 May 2023
On 30 March 2023, the Government published the ‘Powering Up Britain’ strategy, which is comprised of two plans. The first is the ‘Energy Security Plan’ and the second is the ‘Net Zero Growth Plan’, which is the main focus of this update. Both plans provide detail of how the Government claims it will improve the UK’s energy security and deliver on the Government’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2050.
After the High Court ruled that the Government’s original net zero plans were not sufficient to achieve net zero by 2050, the Net Zero Growth Plan has been published, partly as an official response to ‘Mission Zero’, the independent review on net zero strategy by former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore.
Mission Zero provided 129 recommendations across a variety of different sectors, which aim to capitalise on the opportunities offered by targeting and reaching net zero.
The Net Zero Growth Plan also sets out the next steps that the Government will take in relation to the transition to net zero. The Energy Security Plan builds on the objectives provided within the British Energy Security Strategy and Net Zero Strategy, with the aim of doubling the UK’s electricity generation capacity by the latter half of the 2030s and a full decarbonisation of the power sector by 2035.
Net Zero Growth Plan – key points
Details of the full strategy and both plans are available to read in full here, however ten particularly noteworthy points are summarised in this update:
- In response to one key recommendation in Mission Zero, the Government has responded by creating the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero which, as well as focussing on the two limbs within its name, aims to maximise the economic opportunities presented by the transition to net zero.
- As part of the Government’s aim to make the UK the world’s first net zero-aligned financial centre, the Government will consult on transition planning disclosure requirements for the nation’s largest private companies.
- The Government will deliver a UK Green Taxonomy, which will provide a framework that sets out which financial activities can be classed as environmentally sustainable and defined as ‘green’.
- The Government will develop and publish a series of roadmaps, including:
- A Solar Delivery roadmap to set out the deployment trajectory required to achieve the target of 70GW of solar energy by 2035.
- A Great British Nuclear (‘GBN’) roadmap to drive delivery of new nuclear projects in support of the target for nuclear capacity to be increased to up to 24GW by 2050.
- A Hydrogen Production Delivery roadmap aiming to be released by the end of the year, which will show how hydrogen production can be scaled up over the coming decade. The Government hopes that this will unlock up to £11 billion in private investment and support over 12,000 jobs by 2030.
- A Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (‘CCUS’) Investment roadmap to summarise the Government’s policies on CCUS and funding, as well as providing investors with further information on the Government’s approach to CCUS to support investment decisions.
- A roadmap to detail how the Government aims to increase the use of timber in construction across the UK, to be released this summer.
- A Net Zero Technology Roadmap in response to the Mission Zero recommendation to publish a roadmap detailing decision points for developing and deploying critical technologies to enable the net zero pathway to 2050.
- In its approach to nuclear energy, the Government claims it will expedite the setup of GBN, with its first priority being to launch a competitive process to select the best small modular reactor technologies.
- The Government will launch an energy advice service for small to medium sized enterprises in the UK. This includes any organisation that has fewer than 250 employees and a turnover of less than €50 million or a balance sheet total of less than €43 million.
- For packaging, the Government will introduce extended producer responsibility across the UK from 2024 and a deposit return scheme from October 2025 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Regarding electric vehicles, the Government has launched its final consultation on zero-emissions vehicles (‘ZEVs’) mandate regulations, which will apply from 2024.
- Another consultation on a new model overhauling the building physics model underpinning energy performance certificates (‘EPCs’) is scheduled later this year.
- The Government aims to set out a long-term pathway for the UK Emissions Trading Scheme and claims that it will commit to running it until at least 2050.
The Birketts view
Although the Net Zero Growth Plan has already been met with criticism from experts and environmental groups for not going far enough, political and social pressures mean that the net zero target remains a key objective for the Government. On tenders for public projects in particular, there will be increasing scrutiny on a bidder’s approach to de-carbonisation and businesses should be ready to highlight their commitment in order gain a competitive advantage.
If you have any queries on the issues highlighted in this article, please contract [email protected]k. Patrick is a Legal Director in our Construction and Engineering Team and member of Birketts’ Clean Energy sector group.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2023.