Is the UK’s energy mix and security improving?

Energy mix Ellis Fox Blog

In recent years there has been a push towards transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. More recently this has been spurred on by the realisation that continued reliance on gas and oil imports has a detrimental impact on energy security – given global political tensions.

However, it’s not as simple as flicking a switch. As a recent government report on energy trends highlights, there are many complexities to changing the country’s energy mix. It’s one thing to state goals to transition to 100% clean energy by 2035 and entirely another to achieve that reality.

What are the options on the table?

The UK is progressing well in terms of developing its own offshore wind power with major projects such as Dogger Bank. However, one of the major challenges remain energy storage and grid connections which are lagging behind. Frequently wind power generation has had to be switched off and this comes at a major cost. Consider the impact if instead of switching off generation and incurring fines, that money could be put towards solving energy infrastructure shortfalls.

One of the solutions suggested is more onshore wind and solar farms, but so many projects have been stalled or held up in planning approvals due to public objections and mis information. New proposals now aim to include more community benefits. Whether this will help accelerate projects remains to be seen.

In time the UK may be able to generate enough power from renewables, but while the transition is underway energy imports remain likely. Recently an investment in an undersea cable connection to Morocco’s mega solar plant means it can move forward in the planning process. Equally there are discussions for connections between the UK and Scandinavian countries as well as co-operation of major renewable projects.

Green hydrogen is another consideration attracting investors and innovators as it’s seen as a solution for heavy duty transportation such as freight and shipping. As a solution, green hydrogen may be able to make an impact in the construction industry as an alternative fuel for heavy duty vehicles. It’s also being trialled as a power source for railways.

There’s no shortage of energy alternatives, but achieving a clean energy mix will require industry wide collaboration. The development of infrastructure and energy storage needs to shift up in the list of priorities and therein lie the opportunities for construction and infrastructure developers.