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Rishi Sunak Creates New Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero

Rishi Sunak Creates New Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero
08 February 2023

In addition to a cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has created a new ministerial department to deal with the UK’s energy security.

Headed up by Grant Shapps MP, the new Department for Energy Security and Net-Zero has been tasked with “securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation”.

The Prime Minister also created three other departments to break up the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Those new departments are: the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Department for Business and Trade and a “re-focused” Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


Securing the UK’s Future Energy Supply


The new department will take over the energy portfolio from BEIS and will focus on bringing down energy bills and protecting consumers from external impacts such as Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine. Longer-term objectives include ensuring properly functioning energy markets, and coordinating net-zero objectives across government.

Energy UK's CEO, Emma Pinchbeck, praised the department’s creation but said it must take ”urgent action” to deal with the ongoing energy crisis:

“Energy UK called for a dedicated Energy Department, because of the pivotal importance of energy for every home and every business in the country - and the UK economy - and because of the scale of work needed to achieve a secure low carbon energy system and to deliver affordable bills for customers.

“While this focused new department is welcome, its significance depends on whether we now see the urgent progress we are calling for, right now, to help with the ongoing energy crisis and to make sure the UK maintains its market position as a leader in net-zero investment and infrastructure.

“A secure, affordable energy system needs urgent action - from helping customers switch to low carbon heating and make their homes and businesses energy efficient, to tackling the affordability crisis as well as removing barriers resulting from the planning system and grid capacity. In a regulated market, industry and Government need to work together. We stand ready to do our share and to support with this massive job of work for the new department.” 


BESA Urges Shapps to Clarify Energy Policy


“Putting net-zero and energy security together makes sense,” said BESA’s Technical Director Graeme Fox. “They go hand-in-hand and one of the quickest ways to achieve both is to step up efforts to improve the energy performance of the built environment through a national programme of building retrofits.

“Investing in energy efficiency measures, scaling up the roll-out of heat pumps by bringing forward the promised funding, and driving investment in training to plug our green skills gap can all be done at speed,” he said.

The association urged the government to bring forward the £6 billion promised by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt from 2025 to help building owners cut energy use by 15% compared with current levels. It also said the government would have to increase heat pump subsidies to achieve its long-stated ambition of growing the market to 600,000 installations a year by 2028.

“These are quick wins that could get our lagging net zero programme back on track, improve energy security and start cutting people’s bills,” said Graeme. “We are miles away from the 600,000 heat pumps a year target, but we could get there with some serious and focused support.”

Picture: a photograph of Downing Street in London, showing the street's sign. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 08 February 2023


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