In a radical move overnight, UK Labour has released a plan for energy grid nationalisation. As well, it will be making a big push to install solar on over a million homes.
The move would see the UK’s £62 billion (AU$117 billion) energy infrastructure grid pass into public hands. This would include both electricity and gas distribution networks.
If elected, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party will establish a new publicly-owned National Energy Agency. The NEA will oversee Labour’s target of 60 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and zero net carbon by 2050.
Reflecting similar concerns held in Australia, Labour accuses the owners of Britain’s transmission infrastructure – including National Grid, SSE, and Scottish Power – of systemic gouging of customers over three decades.
This has enabled private network companies to post massive profits at the expense of households. Labour says these profits should power a clean economy, rather than dividend payments to shareholders.
In response, National Grid disagreed. Its operations, the company said, were at the heart of Britain’s decarbonisation agenda.
“Only a few days ago we broke the record for the longest period of time the country has gone without coal generation.”
National Grid added that Labour’s proposal would disrupt the UK’s path to becoming a leader in green energy.
Energy grid nationalisation key to climate fight: Labour
Energy grid nationalisation first took place in the post-war era. The advent of the Thatcher Government’s reign after 1979 saw a wave of privatisation of the once public assets and businesses occur.
The UK energy network nationalisation will drive Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution package.
A central platform of the scheme is to eliminate carbon from the energy sector. Although Labour concedes government subsidies have enabled private companies to invest heavily in renewable generation, the scale and speed of decarbonisation has been too slow.
In addition, the amounts spent on upgrades to modernise the gas and electricity grid, and support renewables have been described as “pitiful”.
Labour pledges solar for 1.7 million UK homes
On the back of its energy grid nationalisation announcement overnight, Labour unveiled plans to install solar power systems on 1.75 million UK homes.
In addition, the move could boost the UK’s solar sector, reportedly facing trouble after the axing of Feed-In Tariffs.
The plan would see solar panels deployed on a million social and low-income homes. Labour estimates the roll-out would deliver savings of £117 (AU$217) per year on electricity bills.
A further 750,000 households would receive solar power through an interest-free loans and grants program. The details of this grants scheme, however, are yet to be released.
Labour said its solar policy will create 16,900 jobs and save 7.1 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking four million cars off the UK’s roads.
The excess electricity would be worth an estimated £66 million (AU$122.5 million), once sold on the newly nationalised grid.