Britain will aim to shift all of its energy production to renewable sources by the middle of the next decade, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
“Looking at what we can do with other renewable sources, carbon capture and storage, with hydrogen, potentially we think we can get to complete clean energy production by 2035,” the UK leader told broadcasters.
The aspiration comes as he prepares to host world leaders next month at a crucial UN climate summit when they will be under unprecedented pressure to decarbonise economies and chart humanity’s path away from catastrophic global warming.
Britain has already committed to phasing out the sale of all polluting road vehicles by 2040 as part of plans to decarbonise its transport systems, while the country has become a leading offshore wind energy producer in recent years.
Johnson’s comments also coincide with rising wholesale gas prices globally, which in Britain have contributed to rocketing bills for consumers and fears of a cost-of-living crisis this winter.
The British leader, who is currently facing a slew of issues related to the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit, highlighted the potential for a shift to green technology to lessen dependence on natural gas.
“It will mean that for the first time the UK is not dependent on hydrocarbons coming from overseas, with all the vagaries in hydrocarbon prices and the risks that poses for people’s pockets,” Johnson said.
“The consumer will be reliant on our own, clean power generation which will help us also to keep costs down.”
In an interview with The Times newspaper published on Saturday, Johnson also said Britain had “got to get back into nuclear”, as the country seeks to replace its aging reactors.
Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist Doug Parr welcomed Johnson’s comments on renewables but said the government remained “unhealthily attached” to more expensive nuclear technology.
He highlighted the cost of nuclear and said the case for large-scale reactors was “weakening day by day as it becomes more obvious that the future of energy is a decentralized, flexible grid”.
The switch to using new storage technologies and renewables will be slower if the government tries to “prop up the nuclear industry”, he added.