Senior figures in the UK energy industry have cast doubt upon a Labour party-backed report setting out the “most radical feasible pathway” to reach zero-carbon by 2030.
The report, commissioned on the back of this year’s Labour party conference, said the move would require £150bn in up-front capital, followed by investment of 2% GDP each year.
However, the research claims that this level of investment would make the UK’s economy £800bn better off, and create 850,000 new jobs.
Neil Cornelius, managing director of consultancy Berkeley Research Group, said: “The proposals are a mix of those which are clearly economically beneficial and those of questionable economic benefit.
“I do not believe that the activities outlined would not represent a cost increase for the energy system and this cost would have to be met by someone. I have doubts about the economics presented.
“More detail would be required to understand whether what has been done is consistent with best practice for cost-benefit analysis as laid out in the UK Treasury Green Book.”
Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said he welcomed the report’s acknowledgement of the role hydrogen could play, and the economic feasibility of producing this from the UK’s natural gas supply.
However, he warned that by banning fracking, the gas that would be required for this process would have to be imported, at considerable economic cost to the UK.
He said: “Under Labour’s exceedingly ambitious plans, it makes no sense to go to all of this effort simply to offshore our emissions to other counties and walk away from the economic benefits of producing gas ourselves.”
Among the report’s more eye-catching proposals are the installation of 9,000 new wind farms, including 2,000 onshore assets, and solar panels covering an area equivalent to 22,000 football pitches.
Other measures include upgrading 27m UK homes with insulation and double glazing.
The report has the backing of shadow business and energy secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, who said:
“This report makes a major contribution to Labour’s plans to kickstart a Green Industrial Revolution. The Labour Party has among the most ambitious climate targets in the world and is the only party turning their targets into detailed, credible plans to tackle the climate and environmental crisis.
“The recommendations in this report could put the UK on track for a zero-carbon energy system during the 2030’s – but only if rapid progress is made early on. The next five years are therefore crucial.”
Main picture credit – Getty