Rudd’s reset speech: the industry reacts

Energy secretary Amber Rudd’s energy policy ‘reset’ speech has been met with mixed reaction, but the general sense has been positive, with many calling it a “turning point” and a “significant moment” in UK energy strategy.

With the Paris climate talks fast approaching and the future of the UK’s energy security under scrutiny, the announcement that coal will be phased out by 2025 was welcomed by most.

Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit director Richard Black calls the announcement “the latest signal that governments are catching up with markets in regarding coal as an obsolete technology”.

However, Rudd’s continued insistence that gas is “central” to an energy-secure future proved a dividing factor.

Green groups took to Twitter to urge the government to support renewables to replace coal generation, rather than increasing gas-fired power. Shale developers, on the other hand, took the opportunity to call for shale gas exploration in the UK.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive, Energy UK

“The energy sector will fully play its part but we need Government to provide long-term policies so investors find energy projects attractive. Britain also needs a mix of technologies. Renewables play an important role alongside gas and nuclear so we can meet the country’s ongoing future energy needs at the lowest cost and with the least environmental impact.”

Richard Lloyd, executive director, Which?

“Putting consumers and competition at the heart of energy policy is the only way to make this market work better for everyone. With energy prices the top financial concern for consumers, it’s right that the government delivers investment in new generation at the lowest possible cost. It’s also good to see energy saving measures being targeted at those who need them the most.”

Richard Black, director, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

“Phasing out coal will save lives in the UK by reducing air pollution and help keep the lights on by incentivising building of new, more reliable generators. Globally, it is the latest signal that governments are catching up with markets in regarding coal as an obsolete technology.”

Jill Cainey, research scientist, Electricity Storage Network

“We welcome the closure of coal by 2025, but adding gas to the system locks in CO2 emissions for 40-50 years, particularly as those power plants will only operate at peak, which is highly inefficient. Supporting peak demand can be effectively done by electricity storage, while simultaneously providing support services to the system, without generating CO2 emissions.”

Tim Rotheray, director, Association for Decentralised Energy

“It is through a focus on energy productivity - doing more with less and keeping energy infrastructure costs low – that we will save money for businesses and consumers and support a more competitive economy. Building more gas power plants alone is not sufficient to deliver the secretary of state’s consumer-led agenda.”

Charlotte Morton, chief executive, Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association

“There’s often an assumption that the choice facing our country is one between supporting renewable electricity or non-renewable gas stations. Baseload gas from anaerobic digestion (AD) is a cost-effective, green solution to the government’s energy security concerns that could match the capacity from coal-fired power – meeting either 30 per cent of UK domestic gas or electricity demand. But much more than that – AD improves: farming resilience; food security; and employment and investment opportunities for rural economies.”

 

Niall Stuart, chief executive, Scottish Renewables

 

“It appears that the Secretary of State is bending over backwards to highlight the benefits of gas-fired and nuclear power, whilst overstating the challenges of increasing our renewable energy capacity. It is right that we get coal off the system but there is no mention of gas already being the UK’s main source of carbon emissions, the cost of nuclear power being significantly more expensive than onshore wind and solar, nor the challenges of managing large and inflexible nuclear power plants.”

John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace

“As the country that used coal to start the industrial revolution, it is right that we celebrate this historic moment as the UK becomes the first major economy to turn away from this deadly, polluting source of energy. Amber Rudd’s speech marks a welcome end for the use of coal. Now we must ensure that the government prioritises renewable energy to power the UK in the future. And in our role as a leader on the international stage, we must encourage global action on coal at the international climate talks.”

Juliet Davenport, chief executive, Good Energy

“The government’s apparent preferred options of nuclear and gas, and an old fashioned grid are not cheap and will not be subsidy free for decades. The government wants to be a world leader but the truth is, the UK will get left behind other countries like the US and China if it doesn’t continue to modernise the grid, and support renewable technology which is low carbon, low cost and highly popular with the British public.”

Bruce Davis, co-founder and joint managing director, Abundance

“Amber Rudd has yet to prove she has a grip on energy policy. Her ‘retro’ reset is a pitch for the bad old days of gas price boom and bust which is bad for energy bills and will end up costing hard working families more, not less, in energy subsidies in the long run.

“Why is she ignoring the fact that renewable energy has a proven track record of cost reduction and provides security against the fluctuations of oil and gas prices which drive inflation and damage our economy? And the fact that renewable energy can be rolled out far faster and for far less than building new gas plants?

“Rudd’s revival of the ‘dash for gas’ suggests she is a fan of the 1990s; “don’t look back in anger” will be an appropriate refrain to her backbenchers when their constituents face red energy bills in 2020.”

EDF Energy

“We support the government’s intent to control the costs of renewables for customers and to ensure that all technologies meet their full life time costs to the system. The consultation on reforms to the capacity market offers an opportunity to correct distortions which give an advantage to small-scale diesel generators over efficient and less carbon-intensive gas generation.”

UK Onshore Oil and Gas

“UKOOG supports the creation of an energy mix that includes natural gas, nuclear and renewables. We now need to get on and appraise and develop the gas below our feet, in particular the huge resources of natural gas locked up in the shale rock underlying the UK.”

Deirdre Michie, chief executive, Oil & Gas UK

“The secretary of state for energy stated that energy security has to be the number one priority and that gas will play a key role in powering our future economy. It makes sense therefore to make the most of the country’s own resources and the [Maximising Economic Recovery] UK strategy, in tandem with the creation of the new Oil and Gas Authority, is designed to do just that.”

Francis Egan, chief executive, Cuadrilla

“Amber Rudd’s speech quite rightly focuses on the necessity of a secure natural gas supply, along with nuclear and renewables in meeting the UK’s energy needs. This further underlines the national imperative and urgency for exploration of our British shale gas resources. With over 80 per cent of UK households relying on gas for heating and cooking, and energy intensive industries requiring cost competitive energy, demand will continue to be high for decades to come.”

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