The energy white paper promised by the government in November is still coming, according to a policy expert at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
Tanisha Beebee, senior policy advisor for energy and climate change at the CBI, was speaking at a media briefing hosted by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
Beebee told reporters the organisation had recently been assured by the new energy and clean growth minister Kwasi Kwarteng that the long-awaited document has survived the departure of former prime minister Theresa May and will be published in late 2019 or early 2020.
She suspected that it may released alongside the National Infrastructure Strategy, which is also expected in early 2020.
Beebee said its continued absence has frustrated businesses, which are hungry for insight into the government’s plans for decarbonisation: “The energy white paper should have signalled the landscape that we would hope to see over the next few years and the fact that it still hasn’t been published is quite troublesome from our members point of view.”
She continued: “In a net-zero world and world in which we’re hosting COP (Conference of the Parties) next year – which is fantastic – it would be good to understand the government’s thinking of the future of the energy system.”
The white paper was first announced by the business and energy secretary at the time, Greg Clark, in a speech at the Institute of Directors in November last year. Clark said the paper would be published in early 2019, but it failed to materialise.
It was later suggested to be coming early this summer but again failed to turn up, with the government instead releasing a raft of key documents, including a consultation on the use of a regulatory asset base model to finance new nuclear power stations.
Clark was replaced as business and energy secretary by Andrea Leadsom upon the arrival of Boris Johnson as prime minister in June. Shortly before being sacked, he outlined its key points in a briefing with energy executives.
A source present at the meeting told Utility Week that the unpublished paper called for 40GW of firm low-carbon generation, mainly from nuclear plants or power stations fitted with carbon capture and storage. The source said there was a “big emphasis” on the latter, including a target to capture 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.