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More Prospects Needed for Nation's Energy

19 February 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

The government’s decision to withdraw funding for carbon capture and storage and renewables has met with a warning from the union Prospect that a ‘chill wind’ has been sent through the industry.

The union was responding to last week’s scathing report from the Energy Select Committee into the future of carbon capture and storage in the UK.

Prospect Deputy General Secretary, Garry Graham, warned: “This report reflects the views of many in the industry that the government does not understand the energy challenges facing the UK and the need to provide confidence for companies to invest for the long term. Unless industry has confidence and stability, our ability to meet our climate change obligations and keep the lights on is in jeopardy.”

Prospect has 22,000 members working in energy generation, distribution, transmission, decommissioning and research.

Mr Graham said that the UK should be a world leader in low-carbon energy technology but that government statements were 'long on rhetoric and short on substance in setting out a strategy that will meet our future energy needs and sustain high-quality jobs'.

The report from the Energy Select Committee builds on earlier comments about declining energy margins and energy security from the CBI, Institution of Mechanical Engineers among others. Prospect is calling for an energy transition plan that:

  • Urgently reviews carbon taxes and future capacity payments to create incentives to invest in new technology.

  • Retains a balanced energy policy.

  • Enables investors to plan the transition to a low-carbon economy.

  • Ensures workers develop the high-tech skills needed for future energy needs.

  • Provides more investment in energy research and development.

The Select Committee’s report noted the government had changed its policy on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in November 2015 and withdrawn its funding. It urged the DECC to ‘promptly devise a new strategy for CCS in conjunction with a new gas strategy’. It observed that the challenging infrastructure surrounding the transport and storage of carbon needed to be considered ‘far in advance of it being utilised' and 'investors required the confidence that the UK was committed to a domestic CCS market'.

The report went on to state that: ‘The Department should assess the financial and other benefits of using our existing North Sea infrastructure. It should also engage with the National Infrastructure Commission to explore options for the development of CO2 transport and storage. If government does not come up with a clear strategy for CCS very soon, knowledge, investment, assets and expertise in the UK will all be lost'.

Picture: The Energy Select Committee has warned that the government needs a proper carbon capture and storage policy – an observation backed by the Prospect union

Article written by Mike Gannon | Published 19 February 2016


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