It’s election day in the UK; and for those of us basing decisions on energy policy, it’s worth comparing the key differences in the three main party stances for five important topics. I’m not even going to mention Brexit.
- Conservatives look to support the UK’s struggling North Sea exploration and production industry, which has seen record low levels of exploration following the dramatic and prolonged reduction in oil price. Decommissioning (removal and deconstruction) of the UK’s 300 offshore production platforms is presented as a strong opportunity for job creation. Shale exploration is promoted and compared positively to the US.
- Labour’s stance is generally negative with regards to fossil fuel usage (backing their push of renewables), with a ban on shale fracking but a vague mention of continued support of existing North Sea activity. Labour support carbon capture and storage projects (CCS) to help the transition to cleaner fuels.
- Lib Dems specifically look to diversify the UK away from the North Sea, promoting the transfer of skills from Aberdeen and the North East into other industries. A fracking ban is high on the agenda.
- Conservatives present a mixed stance on wind, supporting continued development of offshore windfarms in Scotland, but opposing the development of onshore farms in the UK. Wales gets a mention regarding Tidal energy opportunities, whilst biomass across all parties gets no mention whatsoever.
- Labour push the boundaries of green energy, vowing to boost UK renewable energy production to 60% of domestic consumption by 2030. This would require significant investment in onshore and offshore wind as well as solar, and the party builds on its stance of public ownership of energy in order to meet these targets.
- Lib Dems mirror Labour’s 60% by 2030 target, with a promise to support funding for solar projects and onshore windfarms in ‘appropriate locations’. The Swansea Bay tidal lagoon will be given the go-ahead.
- Conservatives support a pricing cap for domestic users of £1,000 and protection of ‘vulnerable’ customers. A review of the Cost of Energy is promised to help the UK become the cheapest provider of energy in Europe. It is not immediately clear to me how the cap would be subsidised, particularly in a growing cost environment. Reviewing spending and enforcing competition amongst suppliers would seem a more logical approach, perhaps?
- Labour echo the pricing cap of £1,000, with immediate effect but again no real basis for how this would be financed. The manifesto slates the UK energy industry for providing an inadequate and expensive service for customers under privatisation.
- Lib Dems focus on energy efficiency improvements to reduce consumption rather than cap bills. Rich pensions will lose out on winter fuel subsidies.
- Conservatives promise to introduce an energy efficiency scheme for large business to improve energy usage, as well as an ambition to upgrade all energy-inefficient homes to EPC Class C by 2030.
- Labour encourage the uptake of energy efficiency measures through the subsidy of home improvements – insulating 4 million homes and providing interest free loans to homeowners in order to make home improvements. A major infrastructure investment which would enable pricing cap targets of £1,000 per year to be met, perhaps
- Lib Dems take the most firm stance, introducing measures to enforce energy efficiency in large companies and vow to improve energy-inefficient homes with a more aggressive growth rate than the Conservatives.
- Conservatives are vague in their proposals for energy infrastructure investment, with no fiscal targets clearly laid out, but suggesting that upgrade should be managed in an ‘affordable’ way.
- Labour promise a huge sum of £250bn over the next years in investing in energy infrastructure, focusing on low carbon gas and renewable energy projects.
- Lib Dems will commit £100bn including investment in battery storage, smart grids, renewables and energy R&D.