Government Policy Sets Out Electrical Future

The UK already uses far more electricity than any other form of energy, but the latest government policy statement has highlighted how much more this will be true in the years ahead.

Many years ago, coal was central to our energy. Homes were heated by it, power stations burned it to generate electricity and trains ran on it.

Now, of course, coal is part of the past and other fossil fuels are going the same way. Most of this is down to the drive to make our energy use greener and reach net zero carbon emissions. However, the war in Ukraine has given fresh momentum to the quest to eventually eliminate our reliance on oil and gas.

That could mean significant changes in the home, with fewer gas cookers and fires, meaning more electrical appliances than ever.

Consequently, the career opportunities for those undertaking domestic electrician courses will only increase in the years ahead.

The new policy approach, laid out kin the Energy Security Strategy, has listed a number of ways in which energy production is shifting towards low or zero-carbon electricity.

Firstly, there is nuclear power, which is controversial for some environmentalists concerned about radioactive waste, but accepted by others as a necessary alternative to fossil fuels. The plan is to establish several new nuclear power plants to raise the proportion of electricity generated by this source from 15 per cent now to 25 per cent by 2050.

Britain is already a world leader in offshore wind and the strategy will seek to increase output by another 5GW by 2030, with investment in research and development, as well as ports and supply chains.

Onshore wind is more controversial and any government legislation seeking to increase this in England could face opposition from backbenchers. Acknowledging the “range of views” that exists on this, the government’s response has been to propose more local decision making.

It said the government “will consult this year on developing local partnerships for a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for benefits, including lower energy bills.”

Other areas include changing planning rules to make it easier for more solar energy to be used, including on people’s rooftops. There was also a pledge to explore tidal and geothermal energy.

All this stood alongside pledges to reduce the use of gas and oil. Unlike some continental European countries, most of the UK’s imported hydrocarbons are not from Russia. However, Britain is not immune to the impact of global price rises caused by the crisis, which underpins the desire to produce more energy domestically, even if that also means less oil and gas from the North Sea.

In addition to all this, there is also the fact that Britain will need more electricity to charge up cars as they shift away from petrol and diesel. The government has just signed the COP26 declaration on zero emissions for cars and vans, which involves a commitment of 100 per cent zero emissions sales of vehicles in leading markets by 2035 and worldwide by 2040.

Going green and isolating Russia will not mean using a lot less energy. Instead, it will involve not only generating more electricity by other means, but using more electricity as a whole, making the skills needed to install and maintain electrical systems more valuable than ever.