Five ways towards net zero, while ensuring critical energy for today
In volatile times, how can the UK reach net zero, while securing energy today? Through, first and foremost, a stable fiscal climate that unequivocally encourages investment, says Shell UK Country Chair David Bunch
Cast your mind back to COP26. Back then few would have imagined a war in Europe three months later. Nor that, inside six months, spiralling global energy prices would leave one in five households in fuel poverty, as domestic electricity and gas bills soared.
The invasion of Ukraine is a horrific human tragedy. For those away from the conflict zone, it has also been a stark reminder that affordable and reliable energy is not a given. Instead, it has shown how complex and fragile the world’s energy system is. A system that is hard to change.
But we must change it. For the UK’s energy security. For the plight of people in this country. For the future of our planet. And in these times of unprecedented global volatility, companies like mine look to government to instil stability.
Shell UK, will of course, do its part. We intend to invest between £20 and £25 billion in the UK over the next decade, subject to board approval. More than 75% of this is intended for low and zero-carbon products and services including offshore wind, hydrogen and electric-vehicle charging. But this requires a stable policy and regulatory framework. Our intent is focused in five core areas.
First, we will play our part in keeping the country’s energy flowing, helping to make Britain’s energy system stronger and more self-reliant. Our Jackdaw project recently received government approval and could produce 6.5% of the UK’s North Sea gas – enough to heat 1.4 million homes later this decade.
Second, we intend to accelerate the development of new low-carbon power and renewable energy sources across the UK’s industrial heartlands. Together with our partner ScottishPower, for instance, we plan to build and operate two of the world’s first large-scale floating offshore wind farms off the coast of Scotland, bringing clean energy to power the equivalent of six million UK homes.
Third, we aim to lead a nationwide rollout of charging infrastructure to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, so that, by 2030, 90% of UK drivers are no more than 10 minutes from a Shell rapid charger. Specifically, we aim to have 100,000 public chargers installed across the country by 2030.
Fourth, we want to provide more, certified renewable electricity to customers, both at home and on the move. We aim to supply five million UK customers by 2030. And finally, we want to invest £100m over the next decade in what we call “generation net zero”. Through this programme we aim to help 15,000 people in communities across the UK gain employment with a focus on the energy transition.
These changes cannot happen alone. Businesses, the government and society all need to pull together. As well as a stable tax and investment climate, we need policy frameworks that incentivise the development of low-carbon technologies at pace and scale. Policymakers must also build on the North Sea Transition Deal to support a stable and speedy regulatory regime and transition to a broad range of energy assets, including gas and offshore wind.
I hope that, together, we can grasp this moment and drive big changes to transform the UK’s energy system, propelling the country towards its 2050 net zero target, while ensuring the critical energy supply needed to keep the UK moving today.
This article was published in The Path to Net Zero, a special report to mark Net Zero Week 2022, with contributions from Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Alex Burghart MP and Kerry McCarthy MP. Read more here.
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