UK chairman urges government to “act rationally” and maintain the internal energy market

The chairman of Uniper UK, Felix Lerch, has urged government to “act rationally” and protect the current structure of the internal energy market during its negotiations for leaving the European Union.

In an interview with Utility Week, Lerch identified the issues he sees as posing the biggest risks to UK security of energy supply.

He said that “price risks. Which are related to the internal energy market and the future of the UK relationship with its European neighbours,” are a key concern.

“As a European company, we see strong networks in the commodities market and we want to see an ability to trade freely between different countries in energy matters,” he continued. “This is our core business and we want to see this maintained after the UK leaves the European Union.”

Lerch said that it is his “hope and my expectation” that “government will act rationally and find a means to maintain” the IEM as negotiations go forward.

In addition to protecting these energy market and trading rules, Lerch argued that freedom of movement for labour should be a core tenet in any Brexit deal. “We are relying on the movement of people between different countries to support the business,” he said. 

Lerch reassured that he thinks government has “taken on board” these messages, which were unanimously supported by industry leaders at a round table event with the secretary of state for leaving the EU, David Davis, held at the end of last year.

Beyond Brexit-related risks, Lerch said that an “abrupt and disorderly” closure of coal plant, combined with failure to replace outgoing nuclear capacity, is the biggest risk to UK security of supply.

Uniper is the generation and trading business which span out of Eon after it split is business in 2016. The UK company owns around 6GW of coal and gas-fired generation and employs over 1,000 people.

Read Utility Week’s interview with Uniper’s UK chairman here.