Home » Great British Energy: Labour vows to begin building clean power ‘within months’ if it wins election

Great British Energy: Labour vows to begin building clean power ‘within months’ if it wins election

Keir Starmer has promised a Labour government will get working on building clean power across the UK “within months” through its proposed new publicly-owned energy company, should the Party emerge victorious in July’s General Election.  

The Labour leader made the pledge as the Opposition Party geared up to unveil the logo and website for Great British Energy, the publicly-owned clean energy company it has said it will establish if elected.

Set to be headquartered in Scotland, Great British Energy will invest in wind and solar projects around the country in a bid to bring down energy bills for households and reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, according to Labour.

Plans for Great British Energy form a key pillar of Labour’s broader green policy programme, which also includes proposals to establish a National Wealth Fund to crowd investment into crucial areas of the green and digital economy, as well as overhauling planning rules to aid its ambitious target to fully decarbonise the UK power grid by as soon as 2030, among other policies.

Starmer said Great British Energy would help to bring down bills for consumers by investing in homegrown renewable electricity sources and enhancing the UK’s energy security in the process, as he slammed the Conservative government’s record on energy.

“The pain and misery of the cost-of-living crisis was directly caused by the Tories’ failure to make Britain resilient, leaving us at the mercy of fossil fuel markets controlled by dictators like Putin,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Our clean power mission with Great British Energy will take back control of our destiny and invest in cheap, clean homegrown energy that we control.”

Starmer added that a Labour government would “turn the page” on the cost-of-living crisis. “The choice at this election is clear: higher bills and energy insecurity with the Conservatives, or lower bills and energy security with Labour,” he said. 

Labour has pledged to provide £8.3bn in public funding to establish Great British Energy if elected, which it said would be paid for by a “proper” windfall tax on the vast profits enjoyed by oil and gas companies during the gas energy crisis.

It has also said it would use the publicly-owned firm to make Scotland a “world-leader” in cutting-edge clean energy technologies, such as floating offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

As such, Labour said establishing Great British Energy would form one of its proposed six “steps for change for Scotland”, which are set to be unveiled by the Labour leader and Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar on Friday.

The five other pillars of Labour’s offering to Scotland include delivering economic stability; cutting NHS waiting times; “making work pay”; creating jobs and opportunities for young people; and “maximising Scotland’s influence”.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s Shadow Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, said Great British Energy would “kickstart [Labour’s] mission for clean power to lower bills and boost our energy independence”.

“It is time to move on from the Tories’ bone-headed opposition to clean energy, for which British families are paying the price,” he said.

Labour was also given a major boost overnight for its clean power vision, with the government’s former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance throwing his weight behind the Party’s 2030 decarbonised grid goal, as he called for a national mission across all levels of government to accelerate the rollout of renewable electricity.

Writing in The Times this morning, Vallance – who was a key figure in the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout – said that by applying lessons from setting up the successful Covid Vaccine Taskforce it would be both possible and beneficial to deliver a decarbonised grid by 2030.

“The prize is huge: lower energy bills, good jobs, more innovative businesses, energy security, and climate leadership,” Vallance wrote.

He also stressed the need to bring government, academia, and industry together to address the “urgent need to end the era of excessive carbon emissions, high energy bills and energy insecurity by accelerating the net zero transition to clean, homegrown energy”.

The renewables industry also welcomed Labour’s plans for Great British Energy.

RenewableUK CEO Dan McGrail said: “With the right set-up and direction, Great British Energy has the potential to play a key role in supporting the development of innovative emerging technologies like tidal power and floating wind, as well as the development of new onshore wind and solar sites through Labour’s Local Power Plan.”

Green groups welcomed Labour’s plans for Great British Energy but called on the party to provide more details about how it intended to decarbonise homes, improve public transport and unblock onshore wind in England.

“The creation of Great British Energy will improve the UK’s energy security and help tackle climate change by investing in cheap, clean, home-grown renewable energy that will cut household energy bills,” said Angela Francis, director of policy solutions at WWF. “But it’s still only part of the puzzle. To free ourselves from expensive, polluting fossil fuels we must also prioritise insulating homes so we can all live in warm homes that don’t cost the earth to heat.”

Mike Childs, head of policy at Friends of the Earth said the Party couldn’t “rest on its laurels because it has one strong green policy”.

“We’re yet to hear how it intends to tackle the enormous carbon pollution created by transport and heating our homes, for example, which can be addressed by rolling out a nationwide programme of insulation, funding the switch to heat pumps, and delivering a true public transport renaissance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also out on the campaign trail yesterday in Milton Keynes, where he reportedly reiterated that he would not force voters to switch to an electric vehicle or heat pump in order to achieve net zero.

“What I don’t want to do is force you prematurely to rip out your boiler, upgrade your home, change your cars, because those things cost thousands of pounds, and we don’t need to do them right now,” he said in comments reported in The Telegraph.

He reportedly vowed to introduce measures “slowly over time in a measured way” instead of trying to “race to do it over night because that’s just going to cost you a fortune”.

Sunak also reiterated that his commitment to tackling climate change stemmed from his two daughters. “I have two young girls, they’re 11 and 13, and of course I believe in climate change,” he said. “I want us to get to net zero because it’s the right thing to do for my kids, your kids, our grandkids, making sure we leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”

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