Business leaders in the UK believe that successive British governments “have failed to deliver secure and competitively-priced energy”, according to a new report.
And the country’s Institute of Directors believes that current government energy policy “is creating all sorts of bizarre outcomes”.
A poll of nearly 1000 bosses by the Institute of Directors found that seven in ten thought Labour, Coalition and Conservative administrations had all failed to make energy available at a reasonable cost. Two-thirds also complained that politicians had not succeeded in ensuring the UK would always have the power it needs.
However, the directors agreed that energy policy had been more successful in increasing the use of renewable sources and reducing carbon emissions.
Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Policy Adviser at the Institute of Directors said: “Since the early 2000s, government of all stripes have focussed on increasing use of renewable energy in order to reduce carbon emissions. Cutting CO2 is overwhelmingly supported by business, but politicians have underplayed the other two crucial aims of energy policy, delivering secure and affordable power. Following the creation of the new business and energy department, now is the ideal moment for the government to reconsider the direction of travel.
“Renewables are a significant, and growing, source of energy. The UK has the world’s highest offshore wind capacity, with much more expected. But technology based on the weather doesn’t work all of the time, so the UK needs a mix of renewables, nuclear and the cleanest hydrocarbons.”
Lewis added that government policy at the moment “is creating all sorts of bizarre outcomes. Instead of accelerating moves to safely frack for gas and oil in the UK, we are importing coal and oil from Russia and gas and oil from Norway, with the extra costs and emissions that involves. Instead of building cleaner gas plants to meet demand when renewables can’t, the government has been subsidising more polluting diesel-fired plants.”
And with the government announcing a review of the costs associated with EDF’s Hinkley Point C new nuclear plant in Somerset, Lewis said that while the IoD “backs nuclear as a reliable source of low-carbon energy, each project has to make economic sense. Hinkley Point C would generate reliable power for 5 million homes, but given the costs, the government is right to take one final look before signing off on the deal.”
In the IoD poll a narrow majority (53 per cent) thought that Hinkley makes strategic sense, but less than half think it will make the UK more economically competitive.
Meanwhile, all businesses wanted a broad mix of sources in the UK energy mix. A majority supported all mainstream forms of renewable power generation, although the most popular, wave and tidal, is still largely untested in the UK. Over half of IoD members also back fracking for oil and gas.
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