Carter Jonas responds to the Government’s Energy Security Strategy
Date of Article
Apr 07 2022
Farms, estates & rural leisure

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Charles Hardcastle
Partner, Infrastructures
0113 203 1091 Email me About Charles
Charles is a Chartered Surveyor, RICS Registered Valuer and Head of the firm's Energy Team. He provides specialist advice on all manner of energy projects and associated infrastructure including: renewables, conventional oil and gas, shale gas, peak power generation and energy storage.Charles specifically advises landowners and developers on land referencing, site suitability, feasibility, technology selection and project delivery. He has specific expertise in site brokerage and negotiating option and lease, wayleave and access arrangements over sites for both landowners and developers. Charles also provides valuation and due diligence advice for secured lending, investment and agency purposes for renewable projects. Charles also advises private and institutional clients on all aspects of strategic rural, infrastructure and marine asset management.

Charles Hardcastle, Head of Energy at Carter Jonas responds to the Government’s Energy Security Strategy.

Released on Thursday, 7 April, the Strategy aims to boost long-term energy independence, security and prosperity.

Overview: long anticipated
“Highly anticipated, not least because its release follows several delays, the Strategy's publication, sets out a direction of travel for future energy security and is a positive step.”

Timing: no short or medium-term focus
“Clearly there is an immediate need to address rapidly-rising energy bills but this has not been addressed and as a consequence will leave most wanting more. In an interview with Sky News, the minister reluctantly admitted that this was a ‘medium three, four, five year’ strategy but in reality it is long term: new nuclear plants, for example, are unlikely to be online much before 2040.” 

Nuclear: cost to consumers
“Details of the costs involved in implementing the vision are notably absent. The construction costs could have a major impact on consumer bills, exacerbating the current crisis.

“Specifically, ambitions for more nuclear energy include proposals for as many as eight new nuclear power stations, plus two new reactors, will be costly. Efforts to accelerate the speed of delivery of new nuclear power stations will result in higher costs, making them significantly more expensive to build than Hinckley.”

Offshore wind: over-ambitious? 
“The government intends to ramp up British-made offshore wind developments, with the aim of significantly increasing capacity targets whilst shortening delivery times from four years to one. The costs of meeting such a proposal are unknown, and a question mark remains over the ability of the current supply chain, which is already struggling with growing demand from other major infrastructure projects, to deliver such an ambitious target.

“We also question the ability of the current supply chain to deliver at speed as it is already struggling with growing demand from other major infrastructure projects.”

Onshore wind: planning policy change urgently required
“It appears that onshore wind remains a thorny issue for the government. In contrast to the bold commitments elsewhere in this document, there was no announcement about the relaxing of the overly restrictive planning rules that are currently hindering progress. Instead, the strategy opens the door for “consultations on partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities” for the delivery of onshore wind. Here the government could have been bolder. Onshore wind remains one of the cheapest forms of energy generation in the UK and many believe it should have a key role in our energy strategy.”

Energy efficiency: recognition needed
“The strategy fails to mention energy efficiency schemes – such as those either retrofitted or implemented in new build developments. Initiatives such as these have potentially the greatest impact on energy bills: as the saying goes, the cheapest energy is the energy we don't use. This said, it would be difficult to argue that existing legislation and huge cost increases aren't incentive enough to drive delivery in this critical space.”

The Grid: our biggest constraint
“A new body, the Future System Operator (FSO) was announced yesterday following a consultation launched in July last year. This announcement did not receive the attention that has been given to nuclear, oil and gas in today’s strategy announcement and yet it could be that the FSO, as an important facilitator in the management and operation of our energy networks, makes the biggest impact in the short term. As anyone involved in the energy generation and development sector will know, delivery is less about planning and more about grid access, so more competition in a whole-system context is very welcome."

Overview: change is needed now
“The opportunities for enabling more clean, green, home-grown energy are substantial: there’s a big enough stick and a tasty enough carrot to make this happen already. The government must remove the obstacles that delay progress while remaining realistic. This requires a whole-industry approach and one which does not overlook important factors such as the potential for almost every building and manufacturing sector to increase further efficiencies.”