Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wants to triple the number of solar panels and double UK onshore wind power by the end of the decade, a move that could offer cheaper domestic energy but risks the wrath of local communities and protests.
The department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) has put forward highly ambitious targets in the upcoming energy security strategy, according to The Financial Times.
Sources told the newspaper Kwarteng’s proposals include ramping up solar power from 14 gigawatts to 50GW, offshore wind from 11GW to 50GW, onshore wind from 15GW to 30GW, and nuclear power from 7GW to 16GW
Last November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a green 10-point plan during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, alongside a revamped National Infrastructure Strategy, which both referenced a 40GW target for offshore wind.
Downing Street is now looking to bolster energy plans with a supply security strategy follow Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has deepened the already stark cost of living crisis.
However, the government’s white paper has been delayed for several weeks with Downing Street and the Treasury unable to reach an agreement over boosting nuclear.
While Johnson favours a ‘big new bet’ on nuclear with up to six new power stations, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, is reportedly concerned about the cost of underwriting and co-investing in more plants beyond Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C.
Meanwhile, some Tory MPs sympathise with local opposition to wind farms and solar farms, amid concerns about their impact on views and biodiversity.
Currently, onshore wind sites have to be featured in local plans with residents having an effective veto over sites.
The ramp up would scrap this protection, a move that will face resistance within the party and in local communities across the country.
Wary of the backlash, ministers are reportedly considering plans to give financial incentives to households near wind farms or new nuclear power stations to ease concerns.