Labour will set out its stall for a massive uplift in green energy as the way to boost economic growth and prevent disastrous climate induced costs in the future.
- Labour targeting a fossil-free power system by 2030 and accelerating the green transition in industry.
- If elected it plans a massive expansion of wind power, especially offshore, solar, hydrogen, battery storage, and nuclear.
- Putting the green deal firmly on a platform focuses political attention back on the merits of the argument, which have got lost in the economic turmoil of Brexit and the cost of living crisis.
In a clear ideological divide from the Tories, Labour’s leader Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeve, say they will provide an unprecedented investment push into green energy, if they get into office, as the path to energy security, more jobs and averting the climate breakdown.
They will support private investment to the tune of £8 billion to unlock projects turbocharging the green economy. Projects to be referred to by Reeves include eight new battery farms, six clean steel plants, nine renewable-ready ports, a hydrogen electrolyser plant and net zero clusters.
Energy self-sufficiency without gas
On energy, Labour wants to have a self-sufficient power system by the end of the decade. This is the route to cutting ties with “dictators” said Starmer in an interview with the Observer newspaper. That power system is to be free of fossil fuels.
It is drawing down the target, which would necessarily spur more immediate action. The Conservative target is to have 95% of electricity derived from renewable sources by 2030, and reach full decarbonisation of the power sector by 2035.
The shift is radical in its scale, involving a quadrupling of offshore wind, the use of floating offshore wind farms, as well as a tripling of solar power and doubling of onshore wind capacity. Nuclear is also backed. Hinkley Point C and Sizewell must be completed by this time, and small modular reactors are to be built in a comprehensive outlay that would prime the UK to become an energy exporter. Labour would still keep some gas-fired power stations as a strategic reserve.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson wanted offshore wind to be an export product when he called for 40 GW by 2030. Catapulting this four times over would most certainly involve export of electricity to European neighbours.
Commitment to the environment is not unpopular
Directing funds to green energy is not an unpopular choice even in the current economic downturn. In recent polling, the grand majority of respondants, 76%, supported the building of green technology projects.
In last year’s Labour party conference, Rachel Reeves also pledged an additional £28 billion of green capital investment a year until 2030 brandishing herself as a green chancellor.
Commitment to the environment by Labour is highlighted against concerns that, under Liz Truss, the new Conservative government is riding roughshod over environmental laws. The RSPB in particular has expressed grave concern that environmental protections are being let go of in planning and farming legislation that is under review.