The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced an independent review of the net zero opportunities in the UK. The Mission Zero: Independent Review of Net Zero consisted of thousands of responses and discussions to gather sufficient information to support the UK’s net zero plans and transition to a low-carbon economy. One of the most decisive outcomes from the report is the economic impact net zero could have on the country. The review suggests that net zero represents the economic opportunity of this era and must be pursued to enhance the prosperity of the UK. Net zero could deliver various benefits of development, and new green jobs and support neighbouring countries in their net zero plans. Studies suggest that the UK is taking advantage of the economic growth opportunities, but other countries are also following a similar path. With over 90% of the global GDP incorporated by a net zero target, there is considerable momentum to achieve net zero and secure economic benefits. This is being supported by companies, small and large who appreciate that net zero can help them succeed.
According to the review, the UK is well positioned to capitalise on the growing renewables industry, particularly in offshore wind, carbon capture, storage and green finance. Recently, a new wind generation record was achieved, with the industry generating over 21GW in January. The wind industry is expected to gain additional support in the future with recent changes to the ban on onshore wind sites. The proposed plans suggest new projects will require local support, and enable communities and local councils to be at the core of onshore wind projects. The Net Zero review also highlighted the need to improve international agreements to access new technologies and allow further innovation in renewables. Several investment plans were mentioned in the report including the US Inflation Reduction Act, the 2030 Invest Plan in France and the EU Fit for 55 Program. All projects mentioned could provide further opportunities for the UK to work towards net zero.
While the benefits of having international partners are evident, the report highlights the need for the UK to focus on its own domestic net zero and act quickly to seize these opportunities. More importantly, the review indicated that investing in net zero today will be much cheaper than waiting and further increase the economic and climate benefits. To reiterate support for decarbonisation, the review stated that delaying activity by ten years could result in a higher UK debt of 23% of GDP in 2050, doubling the fiscal cost of reaching net zero.
The review identified a series of priority missions that require attention by 2035. The first area focuses on the grid and infrastructure, a critical part of renewable energy and distributing low-carbon energy. The review suggests a structured framework and delivery plan for networks are crucial to enable onshore and offshore developments. The second mission is focused on the solar industry, recommending the accelerated deployment of rooftop solar to support energy independence in the UK and generate up to 70GW of UK solar by 2035. Onshore wind is another renewable energy industry the review believes needs further attention, recommending measures to support onshore deployment and working closely with local communities to create regional benefits. A structured plan for decarbonisation must also focus on long-term investment in carbon capture and storage in addition to accelerating the hydrogen industry to support decarbonisation in particular sectors. Businesses worldwide have been investing in green hydrogen technologies, but the UK has taken a relatively cautious approach toward hydrogen. The initial target for hydrogen started at 5GW but increased to 10GW, with 5GW coming from green hydrogen.
The reviews emphasised the need for the UK to combine nature and habitat restoration within the transition plans to support the benefits for climate and nature. The final mission listed in the review described the importance of increasing research, development and innovation in low-carbon technologies to support a drive toward net zero.