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Greenly’s guide to the UK’s Energy Security Strategy

What is the British Energy Security Strategy? Why was it created? And what does it actually involve?
Green News
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In April 2022 the UK published the British Energy Security Strategy, with the aim of achieving long-term independence from external energy sources and the decarbonisation of the UK’s power supply. The strategy was published by the UK Government in response to growing concern over the security, affordability, and sustainability of the UK’s energy supply. This concern is a result of both global and local issues, including spikes in global gas prices, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the failure of several UK energy suppliers, and the rise in the energy price cap in the UK.  

👉 What is the British Energy Security Strategy? Why was it created? And what does it actually involve?

The background to the British Energy Security Strategy

When trying to understand why the UK Government created its Energy Security Strategy, it’s important to consider the context of its creation. 

Energy prices were already high when global events, such as the conflict in Ukraine, caused them to spike even further. In 2022 alone, electricity prices rose by 65.4% and gas prices rose by an incredible 128.9%. This has left many homes across the UK struggling to cover bills and to keep their homes warm. 

Political moves by the UK and other countries across Europe, which aim to deter Russian aggression through the adoption of measures, such as country bans on Russian energy imports have only made the prices of energy more volatile. 

The UK in particular finds itself vulnerable to the evolving supply crisis. In recent years Russian fuel made up almost 30% of the UK’s diesel supply, 10% of crude oil, and over 5% of its natural gas supply. This puts the UK in a difficult position. 

The UK Government recognised the need to address these challenges, and determined that it needed to focus on the following issues in particular: 

  • Reducing the UK’s reliance on Russian energy imports, while maintaining security of the UK’s energy supply 
  • Reducing the impact of global fuel prices on UK businesses and the public
  • Focusing on making the UK energy independent so as to reduce the impact of energy market trends
  • Ensuring that the UK is on track to reach its net-zero targets by 2050

This is where the British Energy Security Strategy comes into play. It was developed by the UK Government as a response to these growing concerns. 

Published in April 2022, the British Energy Security Strategy lays out how the UK plans to speed up its energy transition in order to improve the UK’s energy security and develop greater energy independence. The strategy details how large capacity increases in its nuclear energy supply, renewables and hydrogen will help to achieve these goals, alongside supporting domestic production of natural gas.

So let’s take a look at the UK's ambition in a bit more detail...

nuclear power plant

🇬🇧 How does the UK plan to adapt to the challenges of energy supply and security?

Oil and Gas

This is one of the more controversial plans laid out in the British Energy Security Strategy. But the UK Government maintains that natural gas is an essential transition fuel and that it will be necessary to increase domestic production on an interim basis. The UK Government focuses its action in three areas: 

  • Offshore gas - a new licensing round was launched in October 2022, the first since 2020, with applications from oil and gas operators hoping to explore and develop sections of the UK’s maritime territory. Their submissions are assessed against certain climate change compatibility requirements. 
  • Onshore gas - the UK Government commissioned the British Geological society to review evidence on seismic activity and shale gas. 
  • Low carbon technology - the UK remains committed to developing carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology in the UK. In line with this, it published a Hydrogen Investor Roadmap in 2022. 
oil rig in the middle of the sea

Wind energy

Offshore wind plays a key role in the British Energy Security Strategy, with an ambition to increase the UK’s capacity by 2050. The current capacity of the UK’s wind supply is 11GW (gigawatts), but the UK Government plans to increase this to 50GW (something that would see the UK produce more electricity from offshore wind than it has ever produced from gas in any given year), ten percent of which would come from floating offshore wind facilities. These targets are higher than those set  by the existing Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution (the UK’s Ten Point Plan), and its Net Zero Strategy

The UK Government plans to facilitate this increase in wind capacity by shortening the approval process for a new project from four years down to one, as well as setting up a fast-track approvals route for priority projects. 

offshore wine turbines

Solar Energy

It's not just the UK's wind power capacity that the UK Government wants to increase, but also its capacity to produce solar energy. The current capacity of the UK is 14GW, but the UK Government wants to increase significantly to 70GW by as early as 2035. It plans to achieve this by reducing the planning process for both ground mounted and rooftop solar installations.

solar panels in the countryside

Nuclear energy

The British Energy Security Strategy set an ambitious target, requiring the UK to triple its nuclear output by 2050. This will enable the UK to meet 25% of its electricity demand via nuclear energy. The Government plans to increase the UK’s nuclear energy production by focusing on the following: 

  • Sizewell C (a proposed nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England), is due to commence construction and development before 2024
  • The UK Government will take one nuclear project to FID (Final Investment Decision) before 2025
  • The UK Government will present a further two nuclear projects to FID by 2030
  • Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) will be pushed for development (subject to value for money and approval)
  • A new task force called the Great British Nuclear has been set up to support the development process of new builds
nuclear reactor


The British Energy Security Strategy refers to hydrogen as a low carbon super-fuel of the future and commits the UK to a doubling of its current hydrogen production. The new target is 10GW by 2030, with half of this coming from electrolytic hydrogen (the greenest method of hydrogen production). So how exactly will the UK Government achieve these targets? 

  • Electrolytic hydrogen allocation rounds opened in July 2022 - this enables applicants to apply for capital support for electrolytic hydrogen projects. The plan is that this will transition into price-competitive allocation by 2025
  • A hydrogen certification scheme is on track to be launched by 2025. This will facilitate the import and export of hydrogen, as well as support new business models for hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure.


As the UK increases its production of renewable energy, it will also be necessary to expand the network in line with this. The British Energy Security Strategy recognises this by promising to establish the Future System Operator (FSO). Expected to be functional by 2024, the FSO will be responsible for energy planning and will be responsible for ensuring energy resilience in the UK, and the integration of emerging renewable technologies with existing energy networks. 

The UK also committed to establishing a Holistic Network Design. It is part of the transition towards the Centralised Strategic Network Planning model and gives an overview of the infrastructure needed to deliver on the UK’s offshore wind targets. 

electricity network wires

Challenges that the UK faces in meeting these targets

The British Energy Security Strategy is a significant step forward in achieving the UK’s decarbonisation goals, but commentators believe that the strategy is vague on specifics. Undoubtedly, the targets set by the British Energy Security Strategy are ambitious in nature and meeting them will be a significant challenge for the UK. In the section below we take a closer look at what these challenges are.

Short term challenges

There’s no way around it, until the UK builds up its own energy capacity it’s exposed to international energy markets, which means that, in the short term at least, the UK will feel the impact of any energy price spikes. As other countries also phase out their reliance on Russian energy there is the risk of supply disruption across Europe, something that could also impact the UK. 

  • Many felt that more substantial energy efficiency measures should have been included in the British Energy Security Strategy. In particular in relation to scaling up and making homes and buildings across the UK more energy efficient (for example, the mass roll-out of improved home insulation and electric heat pumps). Something that would not only help to cut down on energy consumption but also on energy costs for households in the UK. 
  • The strategy fails to make the most of the opportunity to involve local government in the delivery of its initiatives. In fact local authorities are only mentioned twice. Many believe this is a missed opportunity. 
  • Many sounded the alarm in response to the decision to open new licensing rounds in the North Sea for offshore gas extraction. The burning of fossil fuels such as oil and gas is incompatible with net-zero. 
  • Some believe that too much emphasis is being placed on nuclear energy. Not only is it incredibly expensive to get up and running, but it will also be slow to have an impact on the UK’s energy supply. Any new nuclear power stations are likely to be ten or more years away from actually producing any energy.
  • The limited use of onshore-wind is another point of contention. The technology is the cheapest and quickest way to produce home-grown, low-carbon energy, and many wonder why the UK Government isn’t making more use of the technology. By not making the most of this technology the UK is making the transition to net-zero more expensive than it needs to be. 
  • Fuel poverty is a very real and growing concern for a large number of people across the UK, and the British Energy Security Strategy doesn’t deliver much to address this issue in the short term. Many charities and organisations across the UK believe that immediate support is needed to protect those who are vulnerable to soaring energy costs. 
electricity pylon

Long term challenges

Undoubtedly, the British Energy Security Strategy is more robust when it comes to long-term initiatives. However, there are still concerns that some of the targets will be difficult to deliver. For example:

  • Delivering on the offshore wind target will require the installation of approximately 3,000 wind turbines. But, the number of manufacturers producing wind turbines is limited, and many are already struggling to meet orders. With many other countries across Europe also planning on increasing their offshore wind capacity, these supply issues are likely to get worse. 
  • There is no mention of targets exploring other low carbon technologies - such as tidal, geothermal or fusion. 
  • In line with renewable capacity growth, it will also be necessary to expand the UK’s network itself. Expanding the UK’s energy network and ensuring that it can accommodate emerging renewable energies is hugely complex and something that will require substantial legal and regulatory effort. 
  • The UK’s energy storage capacity will need to be adequately developed, and further exploration into alternative storage solutions is needed. 

The future of the British Energy Security Strategy

The new commitments laid out by the UK Government in its Energy Security Strategy are hugely ambitious. In order to meet the targets set by the UK Government, a concerted effort will be needed by the government, business and industry in the UK - they will have to deliver quickly and at scale. The only way to do this is for the UK Government to translate its targets into policy that will actually deliver on the UK’s net zero ambitions. 

Many experts believe that more short term solutions are needed if we’re going to reach net zero emission, such as the use of onshore wind, and the focusing on policies that help homes across the UK to become more energy efficient, something that will have the added benefit of cutting down on energy expenses for UK households.  

Tower bridge in London at night

What about Greenly? 

At Greenly we can help you to assess your company’s carbon footprint, and then give you the tools you need to cut down on emissions. Why not request a free demo with one of our experts - no obligation or commitment required. 

If you enjoyed this article, and would like to learn more about other policies affecting the climate fight in the UK, why not check out Greenly’s blog.

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