Industry bodies welcome government’s energy plans

Industry bodies have welcomed the government’s roadmap for future energy infrastructure, which includes plans for eight new nuclear power plants.

The Energy National Policy Statements (NPSs), presented to parliament yesterday, are intended to reassure developers hoping to replace Britain’s ageing power stations and reduce problems with planning consent.

They highlighted a need for a surge of more than £100bn investment in new energy sources, including 33GW of renewable energy capacity, and named eight sites deemed suitable for new nuclear power stations by 2025.

“This will provide the certainty [that] industry, the supply chain and investors have been waiting for”

ICE director general,

Tom Foulkes

Energy minister Charles Hendry said: ‘Industry needs as much certainty as possible to make such big investments.

‘These plans set out our energy need to help guide the planning process, so that, if acceptable proposals come forward in appropriate places, they will not face unnecessary hold-ups.

‘The coalition government is determined to make the UK a truly attractive market for investors, to give us secure, affordable, low-carbon energy.’

Around a quarter of the UK’s generating capacity is due to close by the end of the decade and meeting growing energy demand requires twice as much investment in infrastructure in this decade as was achieved in the last, he added.

Clear roadmap needed

Tom Foulkes, Director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), said sector reforms needed a clear roadmap for a secure, decarbonised supply of energy.

‘This will provide the certainty [that] industry, the supply chain and investors have been waiting for and, if supported by a robust market reform that sufficiently incentivises low carbon generation, will pave the way to a secure energy future for the UK.

‘However, they must also be supported by an effective and timely planning system, which avoids unnecessary delays that have been a barrier to investment in the past — both at a national and a local level.

‘It is important that the statements are ratified without delay to maintain investor confidence and ensure critical infrastructure programmes go ahead as planned.’

Keith Parker, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said the NPSs did provide the ‘clear pathway’ needed.

‘The government is showing clear leadership at a time when the UK must move forward with major energy developments, including new nuclear power stations,’ he said.

‘We warmly welcome the government’s clarity and open and transparent handling of such key policy, and their acknowledgement that nuclear power is a hugely significant part of Britain’s energy future.’

Renewable guidance

Chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, Gaynor Hartnell, also welcomed the guidance for large renewable projects.

‘Several gigawatts of biomass projects are currently waiting to hear what support levels will apply under the Renewables Obligation from 2013.

‘If this remains at current levels, they will benefit from this guidance as they strive to bring their projects to fruition.’

The sites named for new nuclear plants were: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool, Borough of Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire ; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Isle of Anglesey.

The policy statements follow a public consultation earlier this year that received more than 2,500 responses and are due to be debated in parliament before final approval.

Microgeneration

The government this week also published its new strategy to promote microgeneration and decentralised energy, which aims to help bring small-scale renewable technologies into homes, businesses and local communities.

It includes actions to improve the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) process, making it work more effectively for small businesses, for example, by allowing greater flexibility in the treatment of micro hydro installations.

Other measures include attempts to maintain consumer protection and develop the skills and knowledge needed as the sector expands.