Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

On 6 July, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Kwasi Kwarteng, introduced the landmark UK Energy Security Bill to Parliament.

The new bill sets 26 measures to bolster UK energy security, reduce the import of fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to a key energy system.

Alongside nuclear, renewable markets such as hydrogen, heatpumps and offshore are some of the key focuses of the new bill, which is expected to bring £100 billion in private sector investment into diversifying the UK’s energy mix by 2030.

Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“This is the biggest reform of our energy system in a decade. We’re going to slash red tape, get investment into the UK, and grab as much global market share as possible in new technologies to make this plan a reality”

There are strong links between the 26 measures set in the Energy Security Bill and the work being undertaken by the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials research.

In April 2022, Royce published a summary response to UK Advanced Materials: call for evidence launched by BEIS, providing insight into the UK Innovation Strategy.  The summary response outlined the UK’s enormous opportunity to develop sovereign capability embracing locally-based materials development, manufacture and re-use of resources.

Royce cited the development of new materials to tackle key obstacles in the energy transition (e.g. development of materials for hydrogen, fusion, advanced modular reactors, electrification, low-carbon transportation and so on) as key drivers for the UK’s strategy, measures which will clearly support requirements to deliver points 2, 14, 16, 21 and 25 of the UK Energy Security Bill.

Research and innovation outlined in the Royce Roadmaps Materials for the Energy Transition, Materials for End-to-End Hydrogen and Materials for Fusion  provide direct recommendations to the materials challenges associated in delivering the UK Energy Security Strategy, particularly in implementing home-grown renewables and low carbon technologies cited in the UK Energy Security Bill.

The Royce blueprints for hydrogen Testing and Electrolysis will ensure the UK has the required capabilities and materials resources to support hydrogen production at terawatt (TW) level and for wide-scale hydrogen deployment, a challenge which will form a core requirement for delivering low carbon technologies at scale.

Royce Hydrogen Lead, Bob Sorrel said:

“It is critical to address materials challenges associated with widescale hydrogen deployment if it is to realise its potential as a key element of the energy transition. Royce continues to work across industry and academia developing blueprints highlighting key hydrogen materials challenges across the supply chain from production through storage & distribution to end use.  The objective is to build the partnerships and investment to address these areas and enable hydrogen to realise its full potential.”

The report a 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution: How Materials Science and Innovation will help the UK Achieve Net-Zero, published jointly by Royce and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) in 2021 established the materials contributions required for the government’s net-zero targets. The report outlines measures to transition to a green and sustainable future including helping businesses and consumers move to clean power. The materials science outlined in this report is a key enabler in affecting the energy network infrastructure changes required by the Energy Security Bill, particularly in markets such as hydrogen and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS).

On the impact the Bill will have on energy networks, Ross Easton, Director of External Affairs at the Energy Networks Association, said:

“Today’s Energy Security Bill is a welcome opportunity to enable a cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy system.

With record levels of electric vehicles, renewable energy capacity and heat pumps being introduced, alongside new technologies such as low carbon hydrogen, the role of our energy networks in integrating these technologies into the energy system has never been more important.”

For further information on the UK Energy Security Bill, read the press release which was published on 6 July, along with 26 factsheets covering the full scope of the Bill.