Royal Society responds to details of the UK energy security strategy

06 April 2022

Responding to details of the UK government’s energy security strategy, Professor Peter Bruce, Vice President of the Royal Society, said:

"With energy prices soaring, demand for nationally secure energy sources growing, and the latest scientific evidence suggesting we are desperately short of time to reduce carbon emissions to limit global warming, it has never been clearer that the UK needs a long-term energy plan to decarbonise our economy. Today’s strategy is a step in the right direction, but the words are the easy bit. 

"We need to accelerate the deployment of technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear plants, but deployment alone won’t solve the problem of energy security and decarbonisation. Given the stark warning from the recent IPCC report on just how far we must go to reduce carbon emissions, we will need new technologies such as small modular nuclear reactors, hydrogen and large-scale energy storage. We are likely to have to go further and faster than ever before in our energy transition.

"Science can help deliver the solutions if we have the long-term vision and the will to deliver. That is the real challenge for government. Vaccine development in the pandemic has shown what can be achieved if we trust the experts and throw our full weight behind them to get on with what they do best.

"While we welcome the Government’s ambition to creating tens of thousands of green jobs across the UK to support levelling up and reaching net zero faster, they will not fulfil this goal without an improved, and coherent, landscape of technical and scientific education at all levels. The UK's energy security also relies on giving people the skills to construct and maintain this expanded energy infrastructure and support a research and innovation base to develop the technologies of the future."

On nuclear:

"Nuclear power is already part of the energy mix in the UK but we can be much smarter in its use. At present 65% of the energy generated is lost as waste heat – that energy can be used for industrial processes such as producing green hydrogen or even for directly heating homes in the local region. We have to be smarter in our planning and more efficient in our use of energy – nuclear presents a big opportunity to do that and the co-benefits of heating will reduce the cost."

On energy storage:

"The UK has made huge progress in delivering energy from renewables and today’s strategy adds more momentum. However, renewables are limited by their intermittent nature and so finding new ways to store the energy for later use is essential."

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