Leading figures from across the energy industry came together in London to discuss the future of the UK energy sector. Speaking at The Economist Event’s UK Energy 2014, key stakeholders from across the energy sector called for greater investment, better communication and a renewed focus on sustainable development to ensure the UK is able to keep the lights on for years to come.
Taking place at London’s HAC, participants included government policymakers, regulators, investors, consumers, campaigners, think tanks and senior executives from the UK’s largest energy companies. Edward Davey MP, secretary of state, Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: “Thanks to the Government’s actions, we’re preventing the predicted energy crunch this winter by turning round a legacy of underinvestment and neglect. We’ve seen record investment in Britain’s electricity sector since 2010, with £45bn invested already and more coming on line in the next few years. But as a sensible additional precaution, National Grid is implementing plans to bring mothballed power plant back on line and extend the lives of existing older power plants. Coupled with more companies being rewarded if they volunteer to shift their main electricity demand away from the peak if needed, Britain will retain its top position as the most secure country in the European Union for energy and the 4th best in the world.”
Amidst a steady flow of headlines about soaring bills and looming blackouts, policy makers are facing critical choices over how to balance support for renewable power with keeping prices down and increasing energy security.
Benj Sykes, UK country manager; DONG Energy Wind Power, said: “I’m confident we can ensure sufficient capacity is available to keep the lights on in the UK – and we can do it with low carbon technologies and in a way that minimises the costs to consumers. It’s our goal at DONG Energy that offshore wind costs come down by 35 – 40% for projects getting the go-ahead in 2020. That puts us on a par with other low carbon generation.”
John Lynch, managing director UK, head of power, utilities and renewables EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: “Investment in the UK’s energy sector to date has been excellent – it remains a very attractive market and seeing greater capital market innovation would bolster its prospects even further”
· Event chair: Edward Lucas, energy editor, The Economist
· Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, eecretary of state, Department of Energy and Climate Change
· Dermot Nolan, chief executive officer, Ofgem
· Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP, shadow secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change
· Katja Hall, deputy director general, CBI
· Angela Knight, chief executive, Energy UK
· Steve Holliday, chief executive officer, National Grid
· Basil Scarsella, Chief Executive Officer, UK Power Networks
· Derek Lickorish, MBE, Chairman, Fuel Poverty Advisory Group
· Vincent De Rivaz, chief executive officer, EDF Energy
· Dieter Helm, professor, Energy Policy, University of Oxford
· Rt Hon Lord Deben, chairman, Committee on Climate Change
· Tim Yeo MP, chair, Energy and Climate Change Select Committee
· Benj Sykes, UK country manager, DONG Energy Wind Power
· John Lynch, managing director UK, head of power, utilities and renewables EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Key topics on the table included: rising bills, fuel poverty, and energy efficiency for businesses and consumers; the capacity crunch – and how businesses and the public sector can work together in order to address it; the role of nuclear, gas and alternatives in the UK’s future energy infrastructure; the ongoing uncertainty in the current energy market; and new technologies for a clean, sustainable, energy future.