Energy Policy

Nick Butler: Why batteries are more important than Brexit. There are many decisions that need to be made and in the energy field. Forget the energy price cap promised at the start of the election campaign and soon ditched in favour of yet another review. Forget, too, the notion that the government will use its majority to amend the Climate Change Act and its fixed targets for emissions reduction. The act is unpopular with many backbenchers (and the Democratic Unionist party) but change would be difficult and it is clear that any trade deal with the EU after Brexit will have to involve acceptance of European standards and regulations on many issues including the environment. Fortunately, the continuing fall in the costs of renewables and the ready availability of long-term supplies of cheap gas will allow the government to escape from the plans imposed by George Osborne in 2013 for a wave of expensive new nuclear plants. There is, however, a more positive and more important issue for ministers to deal with: the development of a strategy for batteries and the wider technology of electricity storage. Electric vehicles are the initial target but storage could also dramatically reduce the cost of renewable supplies, remove the burden of intermittency and make solar and wind power fully competitive with any other source of electricity generation. The cost of reducing carbon emissions could be dramatically reduced. Research is crucial but the real prize in terms of industrial capacity comes with the development of large-scale manufacturing facilities. This means plants like the Gigafactory being developed by Elon Musk in Nevada, which is being designed to produce 35GW hours of battery capacity a year by 2020 to supply the 500,000 electric vehicles Tesla plans to produce by then. Securing this capacity will create several thousand skilled jobs. Of course the terms of Brexit matter, but on any rational long-term view the science and engineering challenge of battery technology will have a much greater impact on Britain, and on the wider world.

FT 19th June 2017 read more »

Politicians have “severely damaged” investor confidence in the UK and the energy sector, according to Eon UK’s outgoing chief executive Tony Cocker. Speaking yesterday at a National Skills Academy for Power (NSAP) conference, Cocker stated that unpredicted policy changes, including the decision to remove the levy exemption certificates for renewable schemes, alterations to the feed-in tariff regime, and the “unfortunate response” to the Competition and Markets Authority investigation have spooked investors. Cocker also said Brexit and the “unnecessary election and the result” have further eroded investor confidence.

Utility Week 16th June 2017 read more »

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Published: 19 June 2017