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Experts warn PM: Winter fuel crisis must be solved by renewables and green investments, not new gas fields

Looming winter fuel crisis must be tackled by helping households save energy, experts have urged new PM as oil sector pushes for new gas fields

A letter to the new Prime Minister argues that UK gas supplies are ‘too small’ to cut consumer bills and Liz Truss should push ahead with efforts to improve household insulation and provide advice to the public on inexpensive or free ways to save energy.

He asks her to support cheap onshore wind and solar farms, which she criticized in her leadership campaign, as well as electric heat pumps, to reduce the UK’s dependence on natural gas.

Its authors, Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee (CCC), and Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), say tackling the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels is the best way out energy and climate crises.

“By stepping up our efforts to end our dependence on gas, we can reduce consumers’ energy costs and make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change,” they say.

They write that the UK is facing a ‘dismal set of records’ of high energy prices, extreme summer temperatures and runaway inflation, due to climate change and economic challenges looming over three-quarters fuel-poor households.

The call came as an annual economic report by oil and gas industry body Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) called for new drilling licenses in the North Sea and rapid investment to mitigate the downturn. impact of high prices on consumers.

He said offshore gas production had increased by 27% in the months since January.

He also estimated that annual gas and electricity bills would rise from £32billion collectively in 2021 to £100billion once energy price hikes in October are factored in.

OEUK warned that without new investment, the UK would need to import around 80% of its gas by 2030 and around 70% of its oil, up from around 60% and 20% currently.

A new survey shows that more than three-quarters of Britons believe the government should use new wind and solar farms to cut energy bills.

Some 77% of 6,114 people surveyed by Survation for industry body RenewableUK backed the use of wind and solar farms – which produce much cheaper electricity than the currently high-priced gas – to tackle the bill crisis.

‘Awakening’

This includes more than four-fifths (82%) of those who plan to vote Conservative in the next election and 84% who voted Conservative in 2019, despite opposition from Ms Truss’ solar farms.

RenewableUK chief executive Dan McGrail said the results were a “warning to all politicians, including the new Prime Minister, that the overwhelming majority of people want to see new investment in renewables and are happy to see new wind and solar farms built in their area to lower energy bills.

He added: “At a time when we need to move from expensive gas to low cost renewables as quickly as possible, most people agree that if local communities support the presence of a wind farm nearby , the government should not stand in their way.

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The chairmen of CCC and NIC warn that gas is likely to remain expensive until 2027, with 90% of the recent increase in the energy price cap being due to rising gas prices.

But while Ms Truss has signaled her support for new offshore gas fields and fracking in the UK, the two senior advisers say the UK cannot solve the crisis by increasing natural gas production alone.

03/02/22 A gas cooker burning on a stove in a kitchen in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
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Gas is expected to remain expensive until 2027

“Greater domestic fossil fuel production can improve energy security, particularly this winter, but our gas reserves – offshore or shale – are too small to have a significant impact on the prices facing UK consumers,” they say.

“Energy security and reducing the UK’s exposure to fossil fuel price volatility requires strong policies that reduce energy waste across the economy and boost domestic energy production. safe, low-carbon.”

Analysis: How would switching to renewables save us money on fuel bills?

Fracking plans

The RenewableUK survey also had a strong message for Ms Truss and her fracking plans – just 34% of overall respondents backed her along with 51% of those who voted Conservative.

The poll also highlighted high levels of support from people across the country for having a renewable energy project in their area, with 76% of respondents saying they would support a green program nearby – including 81% of Conservative voters.

Achieve the UK’s statutory target of reducing climate emissions to zero overall – known as net zero – by 2050 through measures such as energy efficiency and renewable energies can help secure the UK’s energy sovereignty and protect it from fossil fuel prices, say Lord Deben and Sir John.

But they warn that 15 million homes in the UK need some sort of energy efficiency upgrade, and there is a lack of credible long-term policies to deliver this.

The number of insulation measures installed with government support has fallen from 2.3 million in 2012 to just 93,500 in 2021.

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In a speech as the new prime minister, Truss said she would take ‘immediate action’ on energy bills

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“Extraordinary” bills for heating schools and hospitals

They are urging Ms. Truss and her administration to develop new policies that will ensure that all homeowners increase their homes’ energy efficiency to a decent level by 2035, and that all rental properties are upgraded to the energy certificate standard. energy performance (EPC) C by 2028.

Government action is also needed to advance low-carbon heating systems, such as electric heat pumps, including tackling the relatively higher price of electricity than gas, they say.

They further warn that slow progress in improving the energy efficiency of hospitals, schools and other public buildings means they face ‘extraordinary bills this winter’ with NHS England facing to an increase in energy costs from £600m to £2bn this year.

Experts warn PM: Winter fuel crisis must be solved by renewables and green investments, not new gas fields

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