Energy security

A report commissioned by Gordon Brown has concluded that the UK is on target to secure energy supplies both domestically and from abroad.

The ‘Energy Security: A National Challenge in a Changing World’ report by Malcolm Wicks, the prime minister’s representative on international energy, argues that the actions published in the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan need to be sustained in order to ensure energy security.

These actions include the creation of 1.2 million green jobs, halving the amount of gas imported, generating 40 per cent of electricity from low-carbon sources and providing energy-saving makeovers to more than seven million homes.

Brown said: ‘We are already taking a number of responsible, far-sighted steps to put the UK on a secure, low-carbon, affordable energy footing in the long term and I am grateful for the work undertaken by Malcolm Wicks.

‘The ability to maximise domestic energy reserves and establish home-grown energy sources is vital, alongside the UK’s ability to pull on every lever internationally in support of energy security.’

Ed Miliband, energy and climate-change secretary, added: ‘We cannot afford to be complacent about the challenges we face in securing our energy supplies and I’m grateful for the rigor of Malcolm’s analysis on these issues.

‘We’ll continue to use fossil fuels in the near term as part of our transition to the low-carbon economy, maximise our own North Sea reserves, as well as do all we can to secure the most diverse range of energy imports.’

Dr Neil Bentley, the CBI’s director of business environment, applauded the report but warned that the government could do more to attract the private investment required to help Britain meet its emissions targets.

He said: ‘This report’s analysis of the energy challenges we face is spot on. We agree the best way of delivering energy security and meeting our climate-change targets is by developing a balanced and cost-effective mix of energy sources, including wind and other renewables, nuclear, gas and clean coal.

‘However, existing policy will not deliver this, and we need to see a major shift in the current approach, which incentivises wind power at the expense of other forms of low-carbon investment.

‘We must also dispel the notion that the energy market is a government-free zone. The government is already shaping the market through various low-carbon targets and incentives, and more intervention is not necessarily the answer.

‘The role of the government should be to provide the right policy and planning frameworks to encourage the £150bn of private-sector investment needed to bolster energy security, cut emissions and keep prices affordable.’