Claire Coutinho MP appointed as Secretary of State for Energy and Net Zero on the 31 August 2023.

Replacing Grant Shapps, who has been appointed Secretary of State for Defence following the resignation of the previous Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace. Before this appointment, Coutinho was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Families and Wellbeing, and an MP for the East Surrey constituency.

Our briefing analyses Coutinho’s views on energy policy, and the likely implications of her appointment for the sector. You can read the full briefing here The New Energy Secretary

If you would like to find out more about how Copper can help you navigate changes to energy policy, please contact Phoebe Sullivan.


Despite a now widespread understanding of the concept of climate change, and our global drive to Net Zero, it’s surprising just how low UK public awareness and understanding of renewable energy is.

There are also some interesting divisions in knowledge and support across certain demographics. Our report provides useful insights on helping segments of society to better understand renewables and engage.

To read our report, click here.

To find out more about our research into renewables, check out our recent reports into nuclear and solar.

A lot has moved on since our 2022 research was published. There are now well over ten solar projects being explored publicly as part of the NSIP regime in the UK. We’ve also seen significant announcements in the 2023 Spring Budget.

So how can we deliver quality solar projects at the scale needed and bring the community along for the journey?

Read the report, we’ve written in collaboration with Solar Energy UK here – 2023 – a transformative year for Solar: a study of public attitudes to solar development

Read our previous report here – 2022 – A bright future for solar: a study into public attitudes to solar energy

As utility-scale solar projects go from strength to strength in the UK, Copper Consultancy has demonstrated continued excellence through Ecotricity’s Heckington Fen solar farm being accepted for examination.

Copper’s role ranged from delivering the project’s statutory consultation, to political and community insight, and most recently involved producing the consultation report that was submitted as part of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application.

This important milestone for Heckington Fen solar farm continues our 100% success rate for applications being accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

To find out more about our work in solar energy, read here.

A General Election is on the horizon and net zero targets are quickly approaching. We’ve set out to understand the public’s thinking about the role climate change will have in voters’ minds at the ballot box and asked the question: will the next General Election by won or lost on climate change.

Ben Heatley, Managing Partner at Copper Consultancy discusses how the UK should respond to war in Ukraine, suggesting that it should be a catalyst for more rapid change in the country’s energy system.


The world has looked on in horror as scenes of violence and destruction have emerged from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The crisis is humanitarian, and every effort must be taken to bring pressure on Russia to halt their aggression, so that focus can move to supporting the millions of Ukrainians who have been bereaved, injured and displaced.

Western nations have responded swiftly, seeking to exert economic and political pressure on the Putin regime, in an attempt to force a change in strategy, and to limit funding to the Russian armed forces.

Energy reliance

There is a significant limitation to the West’s plan, namely Europe’s reliance on Russian oil, and particularly gas. Some Eastern European nations are almost exclusively supplied with Russian gas, while Germany and Austria receive about 50% of their gas supplies from Russia.

On the surface, the UK is not as dependent, receiving approximately 5% of our supplies from Russia, but that doesn’t tell the full story as we live in an interconnected world, and it’s challenging to distinguish exactly where gas that arrives via pipeline has originated from.

One response to this crisis, will inevitably be to seek to increase supplies from the North Sea and Norway, along with LNG supplies from Qatar and elsewhere. However, that is a short term solution that will not address the fundamental challenge of an overreliance on one country for our energy supplies. It will also not enable us all to transition to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

Energy independence

The International Energy Association has produced a ten point plan to reduce the use of Russian oil and gas, while accelerating the transition to net-zero. As a country, the UK needs to take every opportunity to enact these recommendations, so that we can put greater pressure on Russia, and accelerate our own transition to an affordable, reliable, sustainable and self-sufficient energy system.

The good news is that we are already in line with a number of the EIA’s recommendations. We are planning a transition away from gas boilers, we are expanding renewable energy systems with offshore wind and solar schemes booming, and we do have a strategy to support the nuclear industry, particularly by backing small modular reactors.

We must move faster to support the UK’s energy market at a time of enormous uncertainty and price rises, and to play our part in international relations. Renewable technologies not only represent the most environmentally sustainable solution, but they are also the most affordable and self-sufficient options.

Making rapid progress in our own energy independence also sends a message to Russia that we are preparing for a future where dirty, carbon intensive, imported fuels will no longer be necessary, and therefore cannot be used as a high stakes bargaining chip.

Bold decision-making

In practical terms, that means the Government making clear and decisive policy decisions to prioritise a rapid transition to clean energy independence. It must come forward with the long expected National Policy Statements on energy, giving clear and unequivocal backing to renewables and nuclear power, and transmission upgrades. The Government must emphasise that at a local level, planning authorities should support solar energy schemes as a means to get additional clean energy into the grid quickly. The Government must also rescind the moratorium on onshore wind in the England, as a clear statement of intent.

At a domestic level, far more needs to be done to insulate homes and install heat pumps in place of gas boilers. The hydrogen and district heating industries must also be further supported to play their part in decarbonising domestic heat.

Some commentators have suggested that the UK should reinvest in domestic gas production, and possibly even fracking, in response to war in Ukraine. There may be a small role for increased domestic supply from the North Sea. But in the long term this is seriously flawed logic, as it only serves to tie the UK further into a hydrocarbon based energy system, which is interconnected to Russia and has faced unprecedented price inflation in recent months.

The future isn’t about replicating the past. Instead we must accept the compromises inherent in the need to genuinely shift from an unsustainable system, to a sustainable one. In that process, we must all make compromises, by accepting that new energy infrastructure will impact us all in some way with views and landscapes changed, and our homes altered.

We must simultaneously do more to support the poorest, helping them to weather short and medium term price rises far more effectively than we have to date.

United front

In the second world war, the UK was encouraged to dig for victory, in order to supplement domestic food supplies and reduce reliance on imports. That initiative saw parks, playgrounds and gardens transformed into allotments. We face a very different situation today, but in order to tackle the combined threat of climate emergency and energy insecurity, we may need a similarly united national effort to achieve our goals.

Interested in learning more about this or other topics discussed on our website? Then please contact us at:

Copper has been appointed by Ecotricity to deliver consultation and engagement activity for a new DCO solar park in Lincolnshire.

This adds to a growing portfolio of Copper’s energy clients in the UK, building on experience across offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture, nuclear, hydro and energy transmission.

Energy director, Sam Cranston said “We’re thrilled to have secured the opportunity to work with one of the UK’s leading and greenest energy companies, bringing forward a proposed solar park that would generate enough electricity to power more than 100,000 UK homes per year.

“It’s exciting for our team to be working with clients and on projects that will play a significant role in helping the UK towards meeting its net zero targets and deliver a sustainable future.”

Copper Consultancy, the award-winning specialist infrastructure communications agency, has been certified as Carbon Neutral.

Copper supports a range of clients in developing and articulating impactful sustainability strategies that will help to reduce the carbon impacts of their projects, their organisations and the infrastructure industry.

As the country continues to progress towards its carbon neutral status, Copper has committed to implementing an ongoing programme to assess its carbon footprint, take action to reduce it wherever possible and offset what cannot be eliminated.

The company partnered with Carbon Neutral Britain to assess its carbon impact, advise on and certify the firm’s net zero status.

Although Copper’s carbon footprint reduced dramatically during Covid, and with introduction of virtual meetings, a move to paperless working and increased use of virtual engagement, there is a remaining impact on the climate. To offset this, Copper has chosen to invest in projects with Carbon Neutral Britain’s Woodland Fund, which supports the planting and management of forests in the UK and around the world.

Commenting on the carbon neutral status, Ben Heatley, Managing Partner of Copper said: “Copper is actively involved in the UK’s transition to Net Zero. We work with developers of renewable energy, support the emerging hydrogen economy and support clients as they make their own transitions to low carbon. As such, it is only right that we also seek to take a lead and tackle our emissions alongside the rest of our industry.”

The journey to net zero will likely provide the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced. But it also provides one of the greatest opportunities. In our latest Net Zero Week instalment, Copper Consultancy’s Dominika Chalder and Matthew Addy explore the key role offshore wind is playing in the charge towards net zero.

Decarbonisation of our economy requires rapid electrification of all sectors. Fast growth in transport, construction and other industries will increase electricity demands up to 50% by 2035 and it is predicted to triple by 2050 according to the Climate Change Committee experts. To avert catastrophic effects of climate change, our future relies very heavily on the rollout of renewable energy projects and the expanded grid connections that deliver the energy to the customers.

There is an immense pressure on the energy sector to deliver this rapid transformation. Globally, it produces almost three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions [1], so there is no doubt that this sector will play a critical role in achieving the net zero future.

The Climate Change Committee expects the UK to achieve clean power generation by 2045. Today, the UK is the world leader in offshore wind, due to its favourably windy conditions, the country’s geographical position, and the significant investment from the offshore sector over the past few decades. This was highlighted again this week with the announcement that the Crown Estate Scotland has received over 70 bids as part of the ScotWind leasing auction.

Undoubtedly, the delivery of net zero and carbon-free electricity will depend mostly on the further expansion of offshore wind farms. Currently, offshore wind powers the equivalent of over 7.5 million UK homes and the sector’s ambition is to become the main producer of a clean, reliable and affordable energy in the UK.  The latest goal for the UK government, as set out in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, is for the country to achieve 40GW from offshore wind by 2030, on a path to 65-125GW by 2050 [2].

Let’s take a look where the offshore wind sector is on this path to a green revolution.

Currently, the UK’s pipeline of offshore wind projects is approximately 30GW. This pipeline includes around 10GW of current capacity, along with over 7GW of capacity assigned at the fourth Contract for Difference (CfD) leasing round earlier this year; the UK Government’s primary mechanism for supporting low carbon generation projects.

To reach the ambitious target of 40GW capacity by 2030, research suggests that almost £50 billion of investment will be required, equivalent to one turbine being installed every weekday for the whole of the next ten years. Further to this, new analysis from Imperial College London[3] shows that the UK will need to at least double its 2030 offshore wind target and roll out new grid-connected batteries at an unprecedented speed and scale if it is to deliver net zero emissions electricity by the middle of the next decade. Rapid investment and technology roll-out is therefore required if the UK is to become, as the prime minister stated, “the Saudi Arabia of wind”.

However, the large-scale roll-out of this capacity is problematic given the current regulatory framework for developing and connecting offshore wind (into individual point-to-point connections). It goes without saying that major legal improvements and streamlining of the current consenting process will be required to deliver offshore wind farm projects at that speed.

In July 2020, the government announced a review into the existing offshore transmission regime, with the aim of ensuring that future connections for offshore wind are delivered with increased coordination while ensuring an appropriate balance between environmental, social and economic costs. As part of this review, on 14 July 2021, Ofgem launched a consultation looking into the proposed changes to the existing regulatory regime to enable developers to make changes to coordinate the delivery of projects currently in the planning process. The consultation also takes a holistic look into how coordination in the delivery of future projects can be achieved, specifically the projects announced in the Crown Estate’s latest leasing round (Round 4). The hope from this consultation is that the short- and medium-term barriers to achieving greater coordination can be resolved.

Despite these challenges on a policy-level, Copper’s latest research on Public Attitudes to Low Carbon Energy Generation shows that low carbon technologies are becoming established in the public’s mind. Offshore wind and solar emerged as the top choices for what technologies the government should prioritise to deliver future net zero energy generation. Our report also shows that people want to see economic opportunities arise from the transition to net zero, including the export of new British technologies. These significant opportunities are recognised on an industry level, with a £100m Offshore Wind Growth Partnership set up to recognise the economic opportunity created by the 40GW target and to accelerate national supply chain development.

The expansion of new offshore capacity is one of many challenges (and opportunities) that the UK faces in meeting its net zero targets. There is a general optimism about the positive progress of clean energy solutions and offshore wind in particular, however achieving net zero will require more coordination and collaboration than what was required in the offshore wind industry to date.