Conservatives aim for energy independence ahead of election

  • Tory party pledges to protect UK energy and create thousands of jobs
  • Govt intends to treble wind power capacity if re-elected
  • Household bills the priority over ‘eco-zealotry’
  • £6 billion scheme to help cut household costs 
  • Little word on solar power
Rishi Sunak

Conservatives say their £6 billion energy efficiency voucher scheme will help consumers install solar panels – credit Instagram

The Conservative Party has promised to use the energy transition to make the UK energy independent and create new jobs by investing heavily in manufacturing technology projects that will help the UK achieve net zero, in its General Election manifesto.

In what they call ‘an affordable and pragmatic transition to net zero’ ahead of the vote on July 4th, the Conservatives have vowed to treble the UK’s offshore wind capacity, build new gas power stations and launch new fleets of small modular reactors.

The Conservatives also plan to “ensure annual licensing rounds for oil and gas production from the North Sea to provide energy to homes and businesses across the country.

In doing so, they will aim to “seize the opportunities created by the [energy] transition” and use it to create “thousands of good jobs” across the country, as well as improve the UK’s energy security and make it less vulnerable to geopolitical crises, such as the Russia-Ukraine war. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “reliable home-grown sources of energy” were the best weapon the UK has against international uncertainty.

He said the Conservatives’ policy would give the UK energy independence and security from “aggressive actions of dictators” while turning the country into a net exporter of electricity. 

“With our plan we will produce enough electricity to both meet our domestic needs and export to our neighbours,” Sunak said. 

Specifically, the party said it will:

  • Treble the country’s offshore wind capacity – which is said would “deliver low-cost, home-grown energy and support the development of industrial clusters”
  • Build two carbon capture and storage clusters – based in north Wales and north-west England, these will “create tens of thousands of jobs in these regions
  • Invest £1.1 billion into the ‘Green Industries Accelerator’ – this will “support British manufacturing capabilities, boost supply chains” and boost the domestic renewable sector
  • Scale up nuclear power with two new fleets of Small Modular Reactors – this will “create well-paid jobs, high-skilled jobs” and deliver “cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy”
  • Deliver a new gigawatt power plant at Wylfa, north Wales 

Prioritising energy bills

Additionally, Sunak said the Conservatives’ approach to energy would put household finances ahead of what he called “unaffordable eco-zealotry.”

To do so, the Conservatives will not introduce any further green levies and instead ensure the annual policy costs and levies on household energy bills are lower in each year of the next parliament than they were in 2023. 

This policy, the Conservatives claim, distinguishes it from Labour, which it says has a “dogmatic, top-down approach that will burden households with higher bills.”

Furthermore, it pledged to invest £6 billion in an energy efficiency voucher scheme that will be open to every household in England, to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and solar panels.

It also promised to reform the parliamentary Climate Change Committee (CCC) to ensure costs for consumers are kept under control. 

Solar power

While the Conservatives have said their £6 billion energy efficiency voucher scheme will help consumers install solar panels, there is little else in the manifesto that could help people reap the benefits of solar energy or how it plans to work with the solar industry.

Instead, the Conservatives will maintain rural planning rules that prioritise agriculture over solar projects. 

This policy puts the party in stark contrast to the Liberal Democrats, who announced in their manifesto on Monday that they would use renewable energy, such as solar, as the core of their net zero strategy.

“We will support solar in the right places, not on our best agricultural land,” the party says.

“We have changed planning rules to protect the best agricultural land with a presumption that this is used for food production, while also making it easier for solar to be located on brownfield sites and on rooftops.

“Our new planning rules also prevent multiple solar farms being clustered in one area to help protect our rural landscapes. We will retain the current moratorium on fracking.”

Written by:
Max joined The Eco Experts as content manager in February 2024. He has written about sustainability issues across numerous industries, including maritime, supply chain, finance, mining and retail. He has also written for  City AM, The Morning Star and the Daily Express.
Reviewed by:
Roland is Editor of The Eco Experts. He is passionate about solar power, reducing plastic waste and technology that can help humanity overcome some of its greatest challenges.
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