Category Archives: Energy

Could carbon capture be the silver bullet in our push for net zero?

GK consultant Hugo Tuckett takes a look at the potential of Carbon Capture Usage and Storage, assessing the UK’s credentials as a leader for a sector in its infancy. 

It is abundantly clear that the Paris Climate Agreement’s aim of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is under serious threat. The recently published report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear that there is very little chance of keeping the world from warming by more than 1.5C (which would substantially reduce the effects of climate change). Indeed, the world has already warmed by 1.1C and experts now expect to breach 1.5C in the 2030s.

While significant progress has been made towards developing methods of clean energy generation – such as wind, solar and hydro – innovative new technologies continue to come forward which balance the other side of the equation, removing carbon directly from the atmosphere. A vital tool in our arsenal to hit the 2050 net zero target. Technology such as this not only buys us time to develop effective solutions to some of the most intractable challenges we face decarbonising our economy, but also provides us with a route to the eventual return to pre-industrial global temperatures.

In step Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS). Exciting research has identified a new method of sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it in the sea, which promises to be three times more efficient that current approaches. The stored CO2 can be transformed into bicarbonate of soda and stored safely and cheaply in seawater. The development, although in early stages, has been welcomed by many in the field.

In the public policy world this begs the question; how can Ministers foster an innovative green economy and help bring these solutions to market?

The Government is undoubtedly moving in the right direction. The recent Budget allocated £20 billion of funding for early development of CCUS, far exceeding the reconfirmation of the £1 billion CCUS Infrastructure Fund at the 2021 Spending Review. Given the publication of the Third Climate Change Risk Assessment in January 2023 showed that for eight individual risks economic damages could exceed £1 billion per year each by 2050 with a temperature rise of 2C, those in industry will be relieved that Ministers are finally grasping the problem.

With a general election on the horizon, attention has inevitably turned to Labour and its approach to CCUS. Positive rumblings have certainly been forthcoming, not least the proposed National Wealth Fund which would seek to invest in and grow green industries. Moreover, Keir Starmer’s keynote New Year’s speech specifically cited investment in carbon capture as a central element of his ambition to hit 100 percent clean power generation by 2030.

In the absence of substantive detail, businesses involved in CCUS have the opportunity to shape Labour’s policy development to its advantage at a vital period in the pre-election cycle. Furthermore, given the significant uplift in funding announced at the 2023 Budget, chances to shape Government priorities in the rollout of CCUS will be abundant in the months and years ahead.

Positive advances in CCUS should grab everyone’s attention given the scale of the challenges we face decarbonising our economy and possibly one day returning to pre-industrial global temperatures. It is vital that Ministers work to create an environment in which green technologies such as CCUS can thrive in the UK.

GK consultants are on hand to offer our expertise helping companies navigate the UK’s political and policy landscape. Please get in touch for more information.

The Green Deal Industrial Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, and what they mean for the UK

GK consultant Milo Boyd takes a look at the significance of both the EU’s Green Industrial Plan and the USA’s Inflation Reduction Act, and assesses what these mean for the UK’s climate competitiveness. 

It’s no secret that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been framed by the incumbent Democrat administration in the United States as one of their big successes (or failures, depending on who you ask). To make it this far, the Act has battled internal Democrat opposition, as well as big-spending averse, influential Republicans who have sought to rein in spending commitments from central government. Despite this, the IRA has put the US on a path to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as set out in the 2016 Paris Agreement and achieve a 50-52% reduction in its carbon emissions by 2030. Of importance to European nations, the Act also contains provisions to benefit US domestic industries. Fearful of the influence that the IRA could wield over the clean tech and net-zero sectors, the European Commission has recently published its own strategy to avoid European industry marching into the welcoming arms of the US – the Green Deal Industrial Plan.

The net-zero transition, the acceleration of which has been stimulated by the ongoing energy crisis due to the conflict in Ukraine, has resulted in considerable shifts in economic, industrial and geopolitical planning throughout both the UK and the EU. With the release of the Green Industrial Plan, the EU has made clear its intentions as to how it aims to take advantage of the accelerated transition to net-zero and strengthen its industrial footing. Fronted by the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the Plan confirms that the EU will propose a Net Zero Industry Act, which promises to provide a regulatory framework to enhance the competitiveness of the EU’s low-carbon and net-zero industries, including the provision of tax-breaks for companies that support those ambitions.

The plan aims to build on ongoing initiatives, such as REPowerEU – released in May 2022 – and at its centre provides a more predictable and streamlined regulatory environment for clean teach by loosening the limits on subsidies provided by EU member governments to struggling businesses. The hope by the EU is that this will help ensure that Member States are able to provide more ‘state aid’ to prop up businesses that are lagging behind. The Plan has received mixed responses in EU circles, with some figures going as far as describing the plan as ‘Marx on steroids’, amid fears that the stronger EU economies will be able to spend their way to internal economic dominance, and subsequently influence. As described by Von der Leyen, “the next decades will see the greatest industrial transformation of our times”, clearly setting out how the EU views the scale of the opportunity. Evidently, both the Green Deal Industrial Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act will be cornerstones of decision-making on both sides of the Atlantic, with clear transparent efforts to tempt businesses to invest and take root in each respective economy.

So what do both of these plans mean for the United Kingdom? The UK cannot afford to lag behind and lose out to international big hitters, especially now that green industries are understood to be critically important to the UK economy. Lacking the pure economic firepower of both the EU and the US, it is vital that the UK remains agile enough – Brexit benefit anyone? – to spot opportunities as they emerge and quickly take advantage of them, optimising its regulatory and planning landscape to do so. Restrictive planning policies and a 13-year backlog of grid connections for renewable projects have been the Achilles heel of the UK economy throughout the 2010’s, and to date remain overly drawn out and cumbersome, rightly being identified by the Skidmore Review as some of the UK’s biggest weaknesses. Despite generally performing quite well on low-carbon energy, the UK should prioritise speeding up the planning and consent processes to ensure a steady stream of new green projects in the pipeline. Doing so would encourage external investment into the UK economy and secure the continuation of the UK’s position as a global climate leader.

GK Strategy are experts at helping companies navigate the UK’s changing policy landscape, get in touch with for more information.

GK Insight: What does the Liz Truss premiership mean for the UK’s net zero agenda?

GK consultants Sam Tankard and Milo Boyd assess the potential ramifications of a Liz Truss government for the UK’s net zero commitments, and what conclusions can be drawn from the ministers appointed at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Take a look at the analysis here: What does the Liz Truss premiership mean for the UK’s net zero agenda?

Demystifying ‘net zero’: How to invest in the future

‘Net zero’ has become very topical and an increasingly mainstream issue. As one of the Government’s flagship policies, the Net Zero Strategy and related initiatives, such as the Heat and Buildings Strategy, may encourage many businesses and investors to look more closely at Government activity in decarbonisation and energy efficiency.

Last month, GK Strategy hosted a roundtable discussion with keynote speaker, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal. As ESG specialists, GK pride ourselves on working with investors and organisations that value and demonstrate the importance of sustainability policies.

We strongly believe that the investment community has a vital role to play in the net zero agenda.

GK co-founder and executive chairman, Robin Grainger, asked Dr Whitehead and other participants some important questions about what ‘net zero’ looks like practically, how the investment community can help the Government achieve its targets, and what is the new Government’s take on the net zero agenda.

Beginning the discussion, it was clear that net zero policies are here to stay. The shadow minister expressed his desire for a greater adoption of net zero as a ‘state of being’ rather than simply being an aspiration. He said that it should become a constant in the economy, and ultimately the basis upon which the entirety of the economy operates.

Dr Whitehead outlined where he thought the UK was doing well and where it was lagging behind. He said that one area which required much more attention was that of land use, and land use change, to ensure that food systems were resilient to shocks.

He went on to say that the UK was generally performing quite well on low carbon energy, partly due to some very ambitious plans from the Government. He also noted that the UK was beginning to develop a more effective carbon capture and storage economy, which would be particularly important for high-emitting industries in the future and could eventually be used to support hydrogen production.

The Government came in for criticism on its attitude towards infrastructure, arguing that it was not realistic enough, and did not account for the need to have necessary infrastructure in place well before the net zero goal of 2050.

The Labour frontbencher stated he believed that the UK is also ‘woefully deficient’ with regard to its grid system as a result of the historic focus on fossil fuel-orientated energy, which has meant that the increasingly necessary transmission of clean, renewable power from the British coastlines to inland regions is made more difficult.

We also heard Dr Whitehead explain Labour’s proposals for net zero, which were firmed up at the recent Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last month. Labour would support the current landscape by:

  • creating a £180 billion green investment fund that would drive development of infrastructure, lead the electric vehicle (EV) revolution, and help Britain lead the world in hydrogen;
  • giving more of a focus to the demand side of energy, seeking to use energy in a smarter way through a big retrofit programme;
  • joining up more of the thinking currently emerging from Government, simultaneously aiming to ensure that projects could be run at the local level.

Comparing this to the new Conservative Government under Prime Minister Liz Truss, there seems to be a greater Labour commitment to the net zero agenda. These measures targeting investment, especially in the demand side of energy, and associated job creation, seem like a good start.

With the Truss Government’s approval rating, and that of the whole Conservative Party, declining sharply in recent weeks, it would be useful for investors and businesses to begin, or continue, their dialogues with influential Labour policymakers.

The discussion last month cemented the fact that net zero policymaking is here to stay, even under a pro-fracking Truss Government, and certainly under a Labour administration. Private equity firms and other investors should take government policies seriously and consider investing in the ‘green transition’. Dr Whitehead advised against investing in the ‘brown economy’ and into areas that are likely become stranded assets.

He concluded that it will hardly be a ‘feast or famine’ situation for the investment community as the UK continues to transition to a fully green economy. In his view, there would undoubtedly be many opportunities that will arise with the advent of a green economy, with new markets opening up and new technologies to support.

GK provide expert advice for investors and business leaders looking to take advantage of the green economy; to learn more about it and the transition to net zero, please contact

About GK Strategy

GK Strategy is a political consultancy based in the heart of Westminster. We support private equity in their due diligence process by advising on deals and producing political due diligence reports, identifying any risks to an asset in the deal process.

GK Strategy also provide strategic communications support to companies once the deal process is complete.