DTI launches energy partnership

The DTI today launched an industry-government body to help the UK fight climate change and address an energy sector skills gap.

The Department of Trade and Industry today launched an industry-government body to help the UK fight climate change and address an energy sector skills gap.

The Energy Research Partnership (ERP) brings together academia, government and the energy industry in a Treasury-inspired initiative designed to direct UK energy research, development, demonstration and deployment.

The organisation is informal and non-legislative, with no public policy agenda. However, they will work with members of the Government’s Energy Review to help set the policy framework for climate change issues.

Members will meet four times a year, with sub-groups meeting more regularly to discuss the group’s overall purpose, prioritisation of issues, and skills. Information from the ERP will be disseminated via a web site and companies will be able to consult the body on specific issues.

The Partnership, which also aims to help increase the level and impact of national R&D activity, will be co-chaired by Sir David King, the Government’s Chief Scientist, and Dr Paul Golby, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, one of the UK’s leading energy suppliers.

“Our aim is to take a visionary lead on research and innovation,” said Sir David. “We’ll be looking to influence the development and deployment of new technologies designed to support the Government’s energy policy.”

Dr Golby commented: “Energy, and how we produce and use it, is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a country as we move into the 21st-century.

“Together, we must play our part in tackling climate change head on and ensure that the Energy Research Partnership comes up with viable solutions to those challenges and address the issues that will affect our children and future generations.”

The Partnership will initially focus on identifying approaches and technologies to accelerate carbon reduction and maintain security of supply, at an affordable price. It will also establish strategic objectives and priorities for energy research in the UK that helps bring these to commercial reality. The Partnership will also review how the UK supports energy research and development and look at getting the most from future programmes.

The ERP will address the skills shortages in the energy sector and promote the opportunities that the energy sector offers. One of the biggest problems facing the energy industry is that the majority of workers are approaching retirement age and only 8 per cent are under 24. Experienced workers often have to be brought out of retirement.

An important aim of the ERP is to work towards the main objectives of the Government’s Energy White Paper. These include reduction of CO2 emissions by 60% by about 2050, the maintenance of reliable power supplies, the promotion of competitive markets and ensuring that every home is adequately and affordably heated.