This article first appeared in our Earth Day 2022 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, printed on 22 April 2022. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Soaring energy bills continue to dominate the headlines as we brace ourselves for the full shock of the record rise in wholesale gas prices, which have quadrupled in the last year.
The global price of gas is hitting us so hard because gas accounts for one-third of the energy we use in the UK.
From 01 April this year the energy price cap was increased for approximately 22 million customers; those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see £693 added to their annual energy bill, which will rise from £1,277 to £1,971.
The energy security strategy
On 06 April the government set out its Energy Security Strategy, a framework for reducing the financial burden of rocketing bills while boosting Britain’s production of ‘cleaner and more affordable energy’ to improve energy independence.
Campaigners were disappointed to see nuclear power’s role in reducing the UK’s reliance on oil and gas, and the plan to build up to eight new nuclear reactors.
This summer the government will also open a licensing round for North Sea projects, despite the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s warning that we must develop no new oil, gas or coal projects if we want to reach net zero by 2050.
Energy experts were also dismayed by the absence of plans to reduce energy use and improve the efficiency of our homes, with many noting that the cheapest energy is the energy we don’t use.
The role of renewables
With onshore wind and solar currently the cheapest way to generate electricity, homegrown clean power is the most obvious solution to both energy security and prices; the strategy sets out a plan to speed up the planning process for offshore wind farms and cheaper energy bills for communities that host onshore wind projects.
‘It’s good to see the government recognising the role of renewables in reducing the UK’s reliance on gas in its Energy Security Strategy’, said Matthew Clayton, managing director at Thrive Renewables. ‘However, deploying onshore wind is the cheapest way to produce more homegrown electricity and the government appears to have missed a huge opportunity to unleash its power. It is more positive to hear that targets for solar are increasing with a focus on commercial rooftops, which enable businesses to reduce energy bills and decrease their carbon footprint.’