The UK Government has vowed to support the North Sea oil and gas industry make the transition to net zero in its long-awaited energy white paper.
Westminster said it would help ensure the expertise of the sector is drawn on and used to develop carbon capture and hydrogen production projects, providing new green jobs.
It is well known that the UK Government is working with the oil and gas industry on the creation of a North Sea Transition Deal, through which the state would support the sector’s drive to shrink its carbon footprint.
The white paper was initially expected in spring but has been significantly delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the white paper included ambitious plans to clean up the country’s energy system, support up to 220,000 UK jobs, and keep bills affordable during the transition to net zero by 2050.
BEIS said the document built on the Prime Minister’s recent 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution by setting out specific steps over the next decade for cutting emissions from industry, transport and buildings by 230 million metric tonnes.
That’s equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road permanently – while supporting hundreds of thousands of new green jobs.
BEIS set out 13 core ambitions, some of which were included in the 10 point plan, including a pledge of £1 billion for carbon capture and storage in four industrial clusters by 2030.
The goals of achieving 40GW of offshore wind capacity and 5GW of hydrogen production by 2030 are repeated in the white paper announcement.
BEIS also reiterated plans, first announced in June, to set up a UK emissions trading scheme from January 1 2021 to replace the current EU ETS.
It claimed the scheme was more ambitious than the EU system – from day one the cap on emissions allowed within the system will be reduced by 5%.
Simon Virley, KPMG UK’s head of energy and natural resources, said: “Today’s long-awaited Energy White Paper reiterates the Government’s bold ambition for achieving Net Zero and creating thousands of new green jobs in the process.
“However, many of the key commitments simply re-state what was announced in the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, published in November.
“Investors will need more details on specific policies if we are to attract the investment needed to reach Net Zero and create the green jobs the Government is aiming for.”
Martyn Link, chief strategy officer at Wood, said: “By prioritising investment in areas like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and offshore wind, it’s clear that energy will be at the heart of the green recovery, a catalyst in delivering our net-zero goals and, given where many of these projects will be located, will also play an important role in supporting a just transition and the government’s levelling up agenda.”
Michael Burns, energy partner at law firm Ashurst, said: “The energy white paper is very much a build on the 10 Point Plan unveiled by the Prime Minister.
“One aspect that will be particularly important going forward will be the implementation-link between the National Infrastructure Strategy, released in November, and the Energy White Paper, as the success of each of them is largely dependent on the success of the other.
“What is also interesting is to look back at the Energy White Paper of 2003. Obviously this was under a different government, but the themes of green energy and competitive pricing are very much there to see.
“What is positive is that there has been much progress since then on facilitating the reduction of carbon emissions in the energy system, but what is also clear, both looking at historical context and looking forward in terms of net zero ambitions and the green industrial revolution, is that there is much more to do.”