In these unstable times, how can the UK achieve net zero, while securing energy today? Thanks, above all, to a stable fiscal climate which unequivocally encourages investment, says David Bunch, chairman of Shell in the United Kingdom.
Think back to COP26. At the time, few people would have imagined a war in Europe three months later. Nor that within six months soaring global energy prices would leave one in five households in fuel poverty, as national electricity and gas bills soared.
The invasion of Ukraine is a horrible human tragedy. For those far from the conflict zone, it was also a stark reminder that affordable and reliable energy is not a given. On the contrary, it showed how complex and fragile the global energy system is. A difficult system to change.
But we have to change it. For UK energy security. For the fate of the people of this country. For the future of our planet. And in these times of unprecedented global volatility, companies like mine are looking to government for stability.
Shell UK, of course, will do its part. We intend to invest between £20 billion and £25 billion in the UK over the next decade, subject to board approval. More than 75% of this sum is earmarked for low- or zero-carbon products and services, including offshore wind, hydrogen and electric vehicle charging. But this requires a stable policy and regulatory framework. Our intent focuses on five main areas.
First, we will play our part in keeping energy flowing in the country, helping to make Britain’s energy system stronger and more self-sufficient. Our Jackdaw project recently received government approval and could produce 6.5% of the UK’s North Sea gas, enough to heat 1.4 million homes this decade.
Second, we intend to accelerate the development of new low-carbon and renewable energy sources in UK industrial heartlands. Together with our partner ScottishPower, for example, we plan to build and operate two of the world’s first large-scale floating offshore wind farms off the coast of Scotland, bringing clean energy to power the equivalent of six million of British homes.
Third, we aim to lead a nationwide rollout of charging infrastructure to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles, so that by 2030 90% of UK drivers are no more than 10 minutes away from a fast charger Shell. Specifically, we aim to have 100,000 public charging stations installed across the country by 2030.
Fourth, we want to provide more certified renewable electricity to customers at home and on the go. We aim to supply five million UK customers by 2030. And finally, we want to invest £100m over the next decade in what we call ‘net zero generation’. Through this program we aim to help 15,000 people in communities across the UK find employment with a focus on energy transition.
These changes cannot happen alone. Business, government and society must all come together. In addition to a stable fiscal and investment climate, we need policy frameworks that encourage the development of low-carbon technologies at pace and scale. Policymakers should also build on the North Sea Transition Agreement to support a stable and rapid regulatory regime and the transition to a wide range of energy assets, including gas and offshore wind.
I hope together we can seize this moment and drive big change to transform the UK’s energy system, propelling the country towards its net zero target of 2050, while securing the critical energy supply needed to drive it forward. the UK today.
This article appeared in The Path to Net Zero, a special report to mark Net Zero Week 2022, with contributions from MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP Alex Burghart and MP Kerry McCarthy. Learn more here.
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