The UK government has published its British energy security strategy. Richard Cockburn, energy and natural resources specialist, and Partner at transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, points out the opportunities it presents, as well as the missed opportunities.

Richard said:

“The new ambition of up to 50GW of energy by 2030 coming from offshore wind is terrific news for the supply chain and ports across the UK which are involved in developing and delivering our offshore wind capacity.”

Victoria Redman, Partner, and planning specialist at Womble Bond Dickinson added: 

"Another win is the new planning reforms to cut the approval times for new offshore wind farms from four years to one year, and an overall streamlining which will reduce the time it takes for new projects to reach construction stages. This really matters as the planning process has delayed several big projects in recent years.

"In the last few months, consent has been granted for Norfolk Vanguard, Norfolk Boreas, East Anglia ONE North and East Anglia TWO, amounting to 5,300MW, and that follows the consent for Hornsea Three granted at the end of 2020 for 2,400MW. However, these projects have taken years to get through the planning system. Norfolk Vanguard was submitted in June 2018 and consent was finally issued in February 2022, following a re-determination after the original consent of July 2020 was quashed in February 2021. The process also requires significant upfront consultation and engagement before applications are even submitted. Delays like this have a significant impact on both the net zero agenda, and the ability to forecast energy supply and demand.

“Reducing the planning burden and the government's recent decision to move to annual allocations for Contracts for Difference (CfD) from Allocation Round 5 sends a clear message that Freeports, Scottish Green Freeports and the UK supply chain are going to play a vital role in Britain’s future energy system.”

Richard continued:

“Doubling the hydrogen target is also good news for developers and the previously announced net zero clusters.

“There are however some missed opportunities which have been widely commented on - developing more onshore wind projects in England for example.

“With regard to nuclear, although the targets attached to new nuclear projects are ambitious aspirations, UK nuclear new-build projects to date have been plagued by cost and slow delivery. Local authorities which already have a nuclear site within their territory will likely benefit from this policy direction and can expect an economic boost to the local economy and relevant job opportunities.

“There’s one key part of the energy puzzle that needs to fit for this all to work which is discussed in the strategy - we need to make sure that grid upgrades which are currently underway happen quickly and cost-effectively enough to keep pace with the rapid expansion of renewable technologies. It’s good news that the government has also today announced a new Future Systems Operator (FSO) which will take a holistic view of the British energy system."

This article is part of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Growing Global series. For more insights, click here to visit our Growing Global hub.