The prime minister has confirmed plans to eliminate fossil fuels from UK electricity generation by 2035.
Speaking during the Conservative party conference, Boris Johnson said the proposed shift would help the UK decarbonise, while softening the impact of the kind of gas price fluctuations that have prompted fears of a winter energy crisis in recent weeks.
“What I’m saying is we can do for our entire energy production by 2035 what we’re doing with internal combustion engines in vehicles by 2030,” he said, during a visit to a Network Rail site in Manchester.
“And what we’re also saying is that by 2035, looking at the progress we’re making in wind power, where we lead the world now in offshore wind, looking at what we can do with other renewable sources, carbon capture and storage with hydrogen potentially, we think that we can get to complete clean energy production by 2035.”
The UK generated 43% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2020 but gas-fired power plants still account for a significant proportion. Nuclear power plants, which currently provide about a sixth of the UK’s electricity, would also continue to form part of the energy mix under the net zero plans.
As the prime minister confirmed plans to decarbonise the electricity grid, gas was providing just under a third of the UK’s electricity demand, at 11.4GW, according to National Grid data.
Britain’s reliance on gas, for heating as well as electricity, has been highlighted by price increases that have prompted warnings of a winter energy crisis, with families facing “desperate choices” as bills go up.
Johnson said removing gas from electricity generation would help safeguard against future price surges.
“The advantage of that is that it will mean that, for the first time, the UK is not dependent on hydrocarbons coming from overseas with all the vagaries in hydrocarbon prices and the risk that poses for people’s pockets and for the consumer,” he said.
“We will be reliant on our own clean power generation, which will help us also to keep costs down.”
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