Rising adoption of electric vehicles could reduce the need to import petrol and diesel, even outstripping new UK oil production licenses after 2030, according to energy experts.
There are currently around 1 million electric cars on British roads and a further 5.3 million are expected to be added by 2030, according to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).
With the entry into force of the government’s Zero Emission Vehicle policy, which requires car manufacturers to sell an increasing number of electric vehicles (EV), the move away from combustion engines is expected to accelerate. Those 6.3 million electric cars are projected by 2030 would reduce oil demand significantly, having a similar impact on reducing fossil fuel imports into the UK as the government’s policy of expanding drilling in the North Sea, according to the ECIU analysis.
About oil and gas licenses
The Offshore Oil Exploration Licensing Bill, currently moving through the House of Commons, would propose that the North Sea regulator invite applications for new projects annually rather than at times it deems appropriate. as it is done today. According to ministers, this measure would strengthen the country’s energy security by reducing the need to import oil from abroad, especially from countries that could be hostile to the United Kingdom.
Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin, head of analysis at ECIU, said the licensing debate diverts attention from a more sustainable solution to ensuring the UK’s energy independence. This involves accelerating the construction of renewable energy sources in the country to supply homes and electric vehicles, while reducing energy waste through the implementation of insulated roofs.
In September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a postponement of the cut-off year for the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, from 2030 to 2035. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) indicated that this change could result in a delay for some consumers who were considering making the transition. This announcement has been criticized for being perceived as inattentive to climate concerns, failing to include it among the government’s top five priorities, and for weakening the UK’s position as a world leader in reducing emissions.
Although the government argues that the UK has reduced its emissions more than any other major economy since 1990, some point out that these cuts occurred before the current administration and are largely due to the elimination of the widespread use of coal to generate electricity. Previous ECIU analysis revealed that only 20% of oil extracted from British fields was refined domestically to produce gasoline and other fuels, and this figure is anticipated to fall to 1% by 2030 due to reduced demand.
Approximately 80% of all oil extracted from the North Sea is destined for export and the government has expressed that it is not its intention for companies to specifically allocate oil for UK domestic consumption. In addition, it has been noted that the majority of oil exports go to Europe, where it is refined and then used in the United Kingdom.
Electric vehicle policy
Dr Cran-McGreehin said the government’s electric vehicle policy, at its core, represents an energy security measure by reducing dependence on foreign oil imports, especially as production in the North Sea declines. However, as the OBR highlighted, the government’s change of course last year regarding the phasing out of petrol vehicle sales is likely to decrease the presence of electric vehicles on UK roads, thereby weakening our energy security and increasing dependence on foreign oil.
Likewise, a representative of the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero stated: “We still rely heavily on oil and gas to meet most of our energy needs. Bolstering domestic supply supports our energy security by decreasing dependence on imports, thereby supporting 200,000 jobs and generating significant tax revenue that we can use to mitigate living costs. At the same time, we are driving our transition towards renewable energy sources and low-carbon options, with a planned investment of £100 billion ($127 billion) by 2030 in technologies such as offshore wind, solar and carbon capture. carbon“.
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