Labour Party wins UK General Election with promising implications for the UK green economy

The Labour Party has won the UK General Election today (5th July 2024) bringing Sir Keir Starmer into power as the country’s new Prime Minister, after Conservative Party leader and former PM Rishi Sunak conceded defeat.
Labour Party wins UK General Election with promising implications for the UK green economy
Courtesy of NREL.

The result has promising implications for the UK green economy with Labour’s intention to make Britain a ‘green energy superpower’. This includes promises to double onshore wind, treble solar power and quadruple offshore wind by 2030. The party is hoping to rid the national grid of fossil fuel generation entirely by that time.

Over the course of its time in power, the Conservative Party maintained a de facto planning ban on onshore wind and generally dithered on deployment of renewable energy generally, while claiming to be a strong player in the clean energy sector. It also supported the deployment of new oil and gas drilling rigs in the North Sea, a policy that has been widely condemned.

One of the big challenges for the incoming Labour government is solving the problem of gridlock on the National Grid. It can achieve this by pushing through massive upgrades to modernise the grid and increase access for renewable energy projects. It isn’t just a matter of technological improvement. Although the National Grid is currently overhauling the grid, it is continually facing fierce opposition from some local communities who do not want wind turbines and pylons affecting their view of the landscape. Labour will have to adopt a more determined and assertive attitude when seeking to push past this opposition.

Scrapping the de facto ban on onshore wind will help to reduce household energy bills and so if Labour can achieve this it will promise to be one of the government’s most popular policies and significantly boost its ‘green credentials’.

“Dependence on oil and gas has driven the cost-of-living crisis” said Ed Matthew, Campaigns Director at E3G. “By delaying and damaging the clean energy policies that could cut energy bills, Rishi Sunak pitched the Conservatives against every UK household. It was a catastrophic political blunder. The Labour election landslide means Keir Starmer now has a historic public mandate to accelerate climate action, invest in the industries of the future and restore UK climate leadership. The UK is back in the race to net zero.”

Sarah Spencer, Land Manager at Balance Power, said that a new government could mean a fresh approach to clean energy development but that if Labour is to fulfil its promise about transforming the energy system, it must take a long hard look at planning headaches and take bold action to purge planning inefficiencies.

"This has to be a top priority, otherwise the new government can bid farewell to its vision of a zero-carbon grid for 2030" said Ms Spencer. "With most clean energy projects being scrapped during planning due to grid bottlenecks, our antiquated infrastructure urgently needs to be updated to cope with a surge in speculative applications. We also need clarity around how the incoming government will work with the ESO to reap the full benefits of the ‘First Ready, First Connect’ policy. This impasse has led businesses like us to think beyond the confines of the grid and look for alternative routes to delivering clean energy. For example, behind-the-meter projects bypass the grid, enabling us to directly supply energy-intensive businesses with clean power while reducing the strain on the network. But the future of the industry rests upon the resolution of grid issues and the ability for developers to deliver large-scale clean energy projects."

On the topic of electric vehicles (EVs), Asif Ghafoor, CEO of Be.EV, said that Labour should introduce a simple mandate that compels every local authority to open up 50 percent of their land for private companies to install EV chargers.

"They don’t have the capital or expertise to do it themselves" Mr Ghafoor said. "We don’t want any more rules or changes - that’s a headache for everyone. What we really need is continuity and certainty. This will really help charging networks to expand. There needs to be some encouragement to drivers, and we have a few options here. We could reduce the power cost for those who switch and get rid of the VAT on public EV charging costs. Norway is a good example. They gave free exemptions to the toll for EV drivers and gave free local authority parking as well. These aren’t expensive and they went a long way in creating a more positive feel about EVs. We have an opportunity to be world leaders in EV chargers. We have the expertise and capital to do it, and if we do it successfully, we can export this to other countries, creating jobs and investment along the way. Every time previous Governments have had a mandate to encourage green finance investment it’s ended up being a disaster. We should have less government involvement. There’s enough capital and expertise in the UK that all the Government needs to do is simplify things and let the private sector get on with it."

Mr Ghafoor added that the Government should bring back the 2035 ban back to 2030 and that this is an achievable goal that won’t cost the Government a lot, but will be a huge psychological boost that will get people feeling good about EVs again.

Christophe Williams, CEO of Naked Energy, said that now Labour is in power, they must end the subsidies on fossil fuels and that although we're being led to believe by some that we must choose between renewable energy and domestic security, it is impossible to have both.

"Security of supply for the UK can be secured by ending our dependence on natural gas" Mr Williams added. "Gas prices have risen by 24 percent over the last three months, and as temperatures get colder in the winter we can expect this to rise further. At the moment we’re importing liquefied natural gas from the US. This should only be a backup - it’s far too expensive to be the solution. All this makes it misleading to suggest that subsidising fossil fuels will shore up our domestic energy security and keep prices down. Renewable energy is the only answer for long-term security. The UK has hundreds of small businesses producing innovative renewable technology that can provide our energy needs. What’s been holding them back is an inconsistent and uncertain investment environment. This is particularly relevant for decarbonising heat. It’s responsible for about 37 percent of total UK carbon emissions, yet is consistently forgotten about in the rush to electrify everything. The next Government would be wise not to neglect it - we can’t reach net zero without renewable heat."

Mr Williams also said that a positive step Labour could take would be to reintroduce the Renewable Heat Incentive for commerce and industry and make sure it stays in place.

"We should also introduce an advantage for local suppliers, much like the Inflation Reduction Act did in the US" Mr Williams said. "Giving a 10 percent bonus on products designed or made in the UK would provide a huge boost for renewable energy. In conjunction with this, we also need to train the next generation of workers to fill the jobs that will be created. Governments should work with businesses and set up academies to do this, as well as fund more apprenticeship schemes. We have an opportunity to become world leaders in renewable energy, and it won’t require historical levels of funding. All we need is the Government to provide the support and clarity that will nudge us in the right direction. We have the innovation and the resources to take care of the rest.”

For additional information:


Baterías con premio en la gran feria europea del almacenamiento de energía
El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).