By being reliant on oil and gas, rather than homegrown sources e.g. wind, solar etc - it leaves us as a small island nation, extremely exposed to global instability and held to ransom by larger corporations.
From the moment Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Britain has been on edge. With political and social tensions at an all-time high, transport links and resource levels unsteady and a financial cost of living crisis to contend with, Britain's security and stability is unsurprisingly precarious. Whilst both supporting Ukraine through this difficult time and securing our own resources, this crisis has taken a toll on the UK.
On the 14th of July 2023, a statement was released from Justin Addison (UK Delegation to the OSCE) describing the impact of the war on both the UK’s financial security and our energy dependency: ‘The UK has committed almost £140 million since the start of the conflict to help Ukraine respond to attacks on its energy infrastructure and support recovery efforts in the energy sector. This includes support from a £62 million, multi-year, energy resilience programme.’
‘Clean, sustainable and renewable energy offers so much to Britain as a nation, but can also allow us to keep providing support to struggling countries such as Ukraine as well. By reclaiming energy security and independence, we can better distribute and source our supplies, and learn more about the needs of neighbouring countries and communities too.’
Tom Sater, Commercial Manager at Clean Energy Capital
With the rise of fuel and energy prices on the increase after the invasion, as a small island nation, our dependence on imported resources inevitably puts us in a tricky position. As a developed country, our reliance on electricity, energy and gas is becoming part of our downfall, as the rising costs and increased difficulty in acquiring these resources challenge our day-to-day lives. As declared by Greenpeace only two years previously, Britain is one of the most energy-dependent countries in Europe.
What is the current state of energy security in Britain?
Although many of these developments have only emerged in the past 12 months, it’s fair to say that Britain is facing an energy security crisis. The essential resources we rely on have become unaffordable and unattainable, and many are looking for alternative sources of energy from within our own land.
Assembled in April 2022, following the Russian invasion, the UK Government put together a British Energy Security Strategy to help combat the reliance on fossil fuels imported from abroad. This strategy set out the following goals:
Pledge the North Sea as ‘a foundation of our energy security’.
Secure 95% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2030.
Confirm the launch of a ‘Net Zero compatible’ North Sea oil and gas licensing round.
Reaffirm the Government’s existing policies to improve the efficiency of buildings.
Set an ambition to deliver 50 gigawatts (GW) of power annually from offshore wind by 2030, 70GW of power annually from solar by 2035, and a new fleet of nuclear power stations to generate 24GW annually by 2050.
With a strong focus on switching to low or no-carbon resources, the government is moving towards a much more sustainable path - however, several key criticisms have emerged both from the public and from stakeholders on this strategy. Complaints were raised over the lack of a spotlight on transport as a key area of emissions and oil dependence - no alternatives were considered or mentioned in the document regarding this. Other gaps in the strategy were identified too, such as a reduced reliance on foreign imports overall, a failure to prioritise the most cost-efficient and quickest renewable sources, and outdated perspectives on a modern energy supply grid.
What could happen if we moved to homegrown energy sources?
The benefits of a full transition over to homegrown and sustainable energy sources are numerous and could have a huge impact on our reliance on foreign imports and fossil fuels.
Embedding solar power, wind and nuclear power into our everyday lives and establishing them as our core source of energy could help make some big leaps towards a more ecologically positive future.
With a recent ‘Public Attitudes Tracker’ poll finding that ‘88% of people support the use of renewable energy in the UK’, it’s clear that the general public is united on their demand for more sustainable energy sources in Britain. Furthermore, there are numerous ‘good news’ stories appearing from across the UK about the positive impact of renewable energy so far - from a £1m community boost thanks to wind power in West Lothian to a 16k jobs opportunity on two Celtic freeports in Wales.
Renewable locally sourced energy will also naturally contribute to the overall independence of both Britain as a nation, but also of widespread communities and individuals. The installation of solar panels on domestic homes, the emergence of wind turbines on private lands and the gradual influx of wave and tidal power facilities have allowed the British public to independently source and manage their own energy usage - without falling victim to price hikes, shortages and restrictions.
Energy security, for the British public, matters now more than ever. With so many of our essential resources being imported from foreign, dangerous and expensive locations, our country is suffering and struggling to cope. Making the move to homegrown and native resources could make a huge difference to both our financial and our environmental status as an independent nation.