How ‘green leveling’ can ensure Britain’s energy security after war in Ukraine – Juergen Maier

Last Wednesday, the Chancellor said he would reduce VAT on energy-efficient materials such as solar panels, heat pumps and insulation, as part of his plan to help families struggling with bills which are soaring.

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It’s a step in the right direction, but we’re still a long way from a sufficiently ambitious plan for a net-zero transition that could transform the northern economy, strengthen our security, and reduce bills.

Professor Juergen Maier CBE, vice-chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, previously ran Siemens in Hull, which is now at the heart of Britain’s green energy revolution.

The next energy security plan must be as focused on how it can help level the country through dependent energy and industrial jobs as it is on the short-term pressures of gas and oil price spikes – which will persist. until we reach net zero.

There is currently not enough capacity to provide the scale of housing and building renovation required. Nor are there enough incentives for companies to upskill or re-skill workers to install green technologies and more sophisticated energy-saving measures in homes.

On top of that, many organizations and households end up drowning in paperwork, and by the time they’ve signed the last green energy efficiency deal, the program is scrapped and replaced with a new one. There have been far too many of these failed initiatives over the past decade.

Poorly targeted programs create uncertainty that makes it harder for the private sector to put its full weight behind emerging green energy sectors. It’s a common concern I hear from business leaders, who say we need to do more to connect the dots between skills, creating market demand, creating the local supply chain, regulatory frameworks and R&D.

Professor Juergen Maier CBE is Vice Chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

We have understood this well before. A market demand generation mechanism called contracts for difference has helped boost the UK offshore wind market and created the scale needed to reduce industry costs. The Siemens wind turbine blade factory in Hull is proof of this.

It was real green leveling. Wind is now the cheapest form of energy in the UK on a large scale; it is now five to six times cheaper than gas. Building onshore wind turbines (where communities want them) could help further reduce energy bills. This gas – not North Sea gas – is now the engine of energy and prosperity in the UK. This is exactly what we need to do now. Stimulate exciting new green energy markets such as the huge hydrogen opportunity.

A few weeks ago, I joined forces with northern mayors Tracy Brabin, Dan Jarvis, Andy Burnham and Jamie Driscoll to advocate for a green industrial revolution in northern England. With growing concerns about energy security, rising bills and the voices of climate change skeptics growing louder by the day, we knew we had to come up with an ambitious and thoughtful plan for how net zero could create skilled jobs and boost our low productivity.

As the industrial engine of the UK (Humberside alone produces 40% of the UK’s total industrial emissions), the net zero challenge is greater here in the North, but that means the opportunity is also greater. here.

Professor Juergen Maier CBE, vice-chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, previously ran Siemens in Hull, which is now at the heart of Britain’s green energy revolution.

The North now produces more than half of the country’s renewable energy. In Yorkshire alone, we have Dogger Bank (once the largest offshore wind farm in the world) off the East Coast, Drax pioneering carbon capture and storage technologies in Selby, and ITM Power in Sheffield producing the equipment to produce green hydrogen and supply the UK’s hydrogen energy. revolution.

Rolls Royce SMR is developing its fleet of small modular reactors for nuclear power, working with Sheffield’s CDMA nuclear catapult and using components made at companies like Sheffield Forgemasters. Alongside batteries and hydrogen-based energy storage, nuclear can provide the base load to replace gas when wind or solar alone cannot withstand the pressure of an economy of more more dependent on electricity.

Our decision to start subsidizing these green energies a few years ago means that we are now reaping the dividends. Every year, the cost of renewable energy decreases more and more. Meanwhile, gas prices are climbing higher and higher to reach new all-time highs.

The truth is, the net zero transition only becomes profitable, becomes world-leading, becomes economically transformative only if we put our all into it. Half-measures and short-term strategies simply will not suffice.

Professor Juergen Maier CBE is Vice Chairman of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

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