What does the election result mean for the UK’s energy industry?

Green issues were discussed in the election like never before, amidst a climate of fear around the future of the planet.

The main parties all stated they want to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by at least 2050, if not before. While progress on this front has been positive, the UK is still nowhere near meeting its target and the Committee on Climate Change has said radical changes need to happen in the next few years.

Planning for the future

It is hoped that by 2025 that the UK will have a plan in place to replace gas as a source of domestic heating with all cars and vans on the road being electric by the early 2030s.

The withdrawal bill, paving the way for Brexit on the 31st January 2020, is due to have its second commons reading this Friday. In February, a huge reshuffle will occur once the UK has left the EU with an expected budget statement in March.

Once Brexit has taken place, the UK will be released from any renewable energy targets set by the EU. The availability of funding from EU institutions may impact the deployment of innovation or capital-intensive projects.

EU funding

There are several EU initiatives that promote investment of energy infrastructure and they currently represent an important source of funding for UK energy projects. Therefore, Brexit could leave the UK short of funding or having to look for other means to support renewable infrastructure projects.

Although the UK would still be bound by national and international decarbonisation obligations, it is expected low carbon energy development will carry on forming part of the government’s climate change policy.

In terms of pricing, UK energy prices would be affected if the EU imposes export tariffs on gas flowing to the UK.

Electric Vehicles – who’s in charge?

Who will charge our electric vehicles?

The UK’s Electric Car (EV) market is constantly growing and the growing demand for charging capacity will be met by dedicated charger companies, utilities and the government, rather than car makers themselves.

Research shows that very few of the 60 plus car brands operating in the UK are putting funds towards charging infrastructure. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders admitted: “We consider it is up to the private operators and the government.”

The boss of the PSA group, which owns Peugeot, has declared he does not see charging networks as a core business activity, even with this potentially affecting the sales of EVs due to concern over the lack of charging opportunities – as well as the EVs lack of range.

Ford buck the trend

However, Ford is an exception and has opened 350kW fast-charge sites in the UK as a plan to mirror the Tesla supercharger network.

Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mini and Porsche are all part of Ionity, founded by Ford. Ionity has three sites that are operational with a fourth being built.

In 2012, Nissan became co-funder of the Ecotricity 50kW charging network, which has now got up to 300 charging points. This marked the limit of its public charging investment, though.

If the government aims to expand EV use, with the aim of sales going up 50%-75% by 2030, a significant expansion of the charging network is needed.