Saturday, July 13, 2024

UK must move to renewable power to avoid future crisis, says Octopus boss

The founder of Octopus Energy has urged the UK to “escape from the clutches of fossil fuels” and move to renewable energy swiftly to avoid a future energy crisis.

Greg Jackson highlighted the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example of how dependency on oil and gas can leave countries in trouble.

Global prices of gas and oil have soared amid the war in Ukraine, filtering down to householders who are facing huge rises in energy bills.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “You know, this is a fossil fuel crisis.

“Make no mistake, the cause of this crisis is that we’re too dependent on fossil fuels, often from regimes where, you know, we see what Putin’s doing in Ukraine – the fossil fuels give those regimes both the funding and the leverage.

“We need to escape from the clutches of fossil fuels. And we’ve heard fossil fuel crises periodically ever since I was a kid and probably before that.”

Mr Jackson said that the UK already had the option to ditch fossil fuels altogether by moving to a system powered by electricity “coming from homegrown renewables”.

He added: “We have the ability to build a system that isn’t dependent on fossil fuels anymore, and it will be cheaper than the one we’re in even before the crisis, and it will stop us being at the mercy of crises like this.”

Several experts have suggested the UK Government should have reduced its reliance on fossil fuels earlier.

Instead, ministers have given companies incentives to keep drilling oil in the North Sea. The move came in May when the Government also unveiled a package of measures to help ease the cost of living crisis.

In March, after Russia – one of the world’s biggest oil and gas suppliers – invaded Ukraine, academics at Oxford University said that if the UK was to have energy security, it needed to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

They warned that global fossil fuel energy markets would remain volatile over the next decade amid the geopolitical disruption.

“The choices made now will determine the course of the next 10 years – in terms of energy security, cost and our future environment,” said Professor Sam Fankhauser, Dr Steve Smith and Dr Anupama Sen from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, at the University of Oxford.

They added: “More renewables actually raises security and lowers cost.”