The UK could unlock £70bn each year by generating enough clean electricity to become a major energy exporter to mainland Europe, according to a former government economist.
A new report has found that by increasing Britain’s clean electricity generation by 50% above its current projections by 2050, it could become a clean energy superpower capable of exporting £17bn of green electricity to Europe a year. .
The ambition to generate more green electricity than is needed to meet UK climate targets could also create an additional 279,000 British jobs and support a total of 654,000 British jobs in UK clean energy industries, according to the report.
Analysis by former government economist Chris Walker for the UK Business Council for Sustainable Development found it “plausible” that the UK could transform from a net importer of energy to an exporter of green electricity by taking the lead in the global race for “net zero”.
By going “beyond net zero”, the UK economy would attract trillions of pounds of global private investment and double the £35bn a year in economic benefits expected on its current trajectory, according to Walker.
However, Britain could lose the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” unless government lawmakers remove barriers holding back the UK’s green energy ambitions, according to the report.
“The UK’s strong competitive advantages in clean energy generation mean it is exceptionally well positioned in the race to net zero, which can deliver significant and sustained economic growth, higher productivity and higher exports,” he said.
“Other advanced economies will undertake similar trips to the UK at the same time. For the UK to consolidate its leadership in meeting this challenge, crucial public policy decisions must be made, backed by investment from private sector organizations to ensure the UK makes and captures the investment needed to capitalize on its strengths.”
The report warned that National Grid was struggling to cope with the number of new clean energy projects applying to connect to the grid, which has increased from 50 a year to 50 a month over the past decade, leaving many projects with a duration of 10 to 15 years. wait to provide clean electricity to the UK power system.
The government should also step in to make sure the UK has enough batteries to store its renewable electricity and create a market for producing green hydrogen. In addition, drafty homes and commercial buildings in the UK need to be retrofitted to improve UK energy efficiency.
Jason Longhurst, Chairman of the UK Business Council for Sustainable Development, said: “We have the potential to generate huge amounts of clean energy that would turn the UK from a net energy importer to a nation that exports vast amounts of clean energy, worth £17 billion a year, to continental Europe.
“We believe this paper offers an evidence base to enable our government to drive new incentives for transition, harness more private sector investment and position the UK as one of the most investable markets in the world for companies facing the challenges created by climate change,” Longhurst added.