Investing in clean energy is key to solve the global energy crisis
“A true breakthrough moment” is how experts have described some exciting work coming out of the United States in nuclear fusion.
Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have announced that they have achieved the “holy grail” of getting more energy out of a fusion reaction than it took to trigger it.
Experts have said this could bring limitless clean energy and help the fight against climate change.
People should be in no doubt that we are making massive progress in this area. Whilst these are challenging times on energy policy, this is also an opportunity to innovate.
I saw some incredible work on nuclear fusion happening right here in the United Kingdom last week on a visit to the UK’s fusion research programme at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire.
Greater energy security combined with energy efficiency is the only way to stop ourselves being at the mercy of global gas prices out of our control
The site is the headquarters of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), one of the world’s leading fusion research laboratories, and is using the process that powers the sun to generate potentially limitless carbon-free energy. It’s been making headlines around the world for its record-breaking fusion experiments in recent months.
Climate change and the importance of diversifying our energy supply means the race is on to find alternative, sustainable technologies to supply a growing global population.
And this has only been exacerbated by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and subsequent skyrocketing energy prices which is leaving governments around the world searching for solutions to protect their citizens.
We know that households across the UK are worried about their energy costs, which is why we’re helping homes and businesses with their bills this winter with one of the largest support plans in Europe – including at least £1,200 of cost-of-living support to 8 million of the most vulnerable.
But we need to do more if we want to bring bills down long-term.
As the Chancellor has been clear, greater energy security combined with energy efficiency is the only way to stop ourselves being at the mercy of global gas prices out of our control.
That means insulating our homes and buildings to permanently reduce energy bills, but also generating more clean, affordable, home-grown power within the UK and for the UK – like offshore wind and nuclear.
Whist in Oxfordshire, I was heartened to meet Liz, a 41-year-old single mum who is already feeling the benefits of energy efficiency measures being installed in her home, making it warmer and cheaper to heat.
Funded by the government’s Home Upgrade Grant, which is part of our £12bn Help to Heat schemes, cavity wall and loft insulation and solar panels are expected to save her hundreds of pounds per year off her bills.
The Chancellor announced at the Autumn Statement a new ambition to reduce the UK’s final energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15 per cent by 2030. This is alongside £6bn of new government funding for from 2025 to 2028 for businesses in the energy efficiency sector to invest and grow.
This will mean more people like Liz can reap the benefits of low-carbon heating.
We are also committed to increasing public Research & Development spending to a record £20bn a year by 2024/25 – which includes funding to build future green technologies – like the amazing innovations at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.
As the Chancellor has said, our commitment to the British people is, over time, to remove this single biggest driver of inflation and volatility facing British businesses and consumers.
We do need to raise revenue to support households, which is why levers like the Energy Profits Levy strikes a balance between funding cost of living support while encouraging investment in order to bolster the UK’s energy security.
Whether it’s investing in future green technology or incentivising investment in North Sea oil and gas, we will need to be flexible on our journey to greater energy independence, as the world moves towards clean, sustainable energy.
James Cartlidge MP is Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.
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