The Labour Party’s leaked election manifesto pledges a complete overhaul of the UK energy market, centred around ambitious renewables targets and nationalisation.
The document, believed to have been signed off by Labour’s shadow cabinet during a meeting yesterday afternoon, paints a picture of an energy market wholly different from its current guise, with large swathes of it brought under government control.
It claims that the current energy market is an “outdated, expensive and polluting energy system” and central to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s plans is a nationalisation of both the UK’s transmission and distribution grids.
Publically-owned energy companies would also be established in each region of the UK, with any profits made from the supply of electricity used to subsidise cheaper tariffs or support community-owned energy projects.
Corbyn has also placed decarbonisation as a central tenet to his energy plans, establishing a hugely ambitious goal of sourcing 60% of the UK’s energy – electricity and heat, but not transport – from renewable sources by 2030.
That target is particularly ambitious given the UK’s much vaunted issue of effectively decarbonising heat, although electricity is currently on track to meet or exceed its 2020 target of deriving 30% of its demand from renewables.
Labour would look to aid the transition towards a more decarbonised power market by investing in energy infrastructure through a newly created National Investment Bank, which would aim to leverage up to £250 billion of lending power – sourced mostly from private finance but stimulated using public resource – over the course of the next decade.
Meanwhile Labour would also look to place an immediate price cap on electricity bills of around £1,000 for an average, dual-fuel bill each year while a more long-term billing system is put into place in a move not too dissimilar from proposals put forward by the Conservative Party, but amended from the previously suggested price freeze mooted by former leader Ed Milliband.
Responding to the manifesto Andrew Ralston, chief executive of Pure Planet – which earlier this week launched in the UK market to offer renewably-sourced energy at wholesale cost – said the UK energy market needed new ideas, rather than “restrictive nationalisation of the past”.
“The energy sector needs innovation more than anything. The way to bring about a much needed modernisation of the industry is to allow new companies with fresh ideas to flourish in a free market,” he said.