The energy industry needs more visibility of future policy to attract low-carbon investment, according to members of the Energy Institute polled in the organisation’s annual “Barometer”.
The Institute members were echoing calls from other industrywatchers seeking a long term vision for industry investment.
Launching the Barometer, EI past president Joan MacNaughton said what was needed was “not a subsidy freeze but visibility over triggers that might change payments and when they might be deployed”. MacNaughton also asked whether the industry had done enough “to get politicians to understand the price impact of measures they regard as ‘free’ because they have no input from public finances”. Along with that she called for more public engagement from energy companies, saying she was shocked by a significant proportion of member responses that said it was not a concern of their company. “We have to grow up as a sector” and let the public know about tradeoffs and decsions, she said.
MacNaughton also noted that only around half of respondents were positive about the measures included in Electricity Market Reform and asked whether it was to think about evaluating it.
Professor Jim Skea, Energy Institute president, said, ‘the single biggest wish for people working in UK energy is a stable energy policy to help industry and financiers decide where to invest profitably and, more crucially, to allow for long-term planning. Renewable energy and capturing carbon – key to implementing the Paris climate agreement – are seen to have been particularly badly hit by policy changes over the last year.’
Energy storage, and wider system solutions, were seen as the area most in need of innovation government impetus. Energy Institute trustee Bernie Bulkin noted that there was a ‘paucity’ of innovation in the heat sector. But he pointed out that members expected a major shift in the transport sector that would see a change to electric other options.
The members also saw a growing skills and staffing deficiency in more energy sectors, with the exception of the fossil fuel, and oil and gas sectors.
Asked what the effect would be of a ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the EU Energy Industry, EI members overwhelmingly thought the effect would be negative, By four to one they saw negative implications for markets, for energy efficiency and for our low-carbon ambitions. The only exception was support for oil and gas development, where members were fairly evenly split over whether exit would have positive or negative effects.
Download the Energy Barometer here