Energy White Paper fails to consider skills

Energy White Paper fails to consider skills

Energy union Prospect has welcomed the government’s proposals to accelerate the development of low carbon energy, but warned that without an adequate commitment to investment in staff and skills the twin challenges of combatting climate change and ensuring security of supply will not be met.

Commenting on the Energy White Paper, Prospect General Secretary Paul Noon said: “The comprehensive package of measures it sets out finally give the lie – albeit reluctantly – to any idea that these objectives will be achieved by relying on the market alone.

“But more must be done to ensure implementation on a fair and transparent basis as well as coherence with existing regulations, taxes and cap and trade schemes.

“Prospect supports a feed-in tariff with a contract for difference providing it encourages diversity of supply but we are concerned that the 450g CO2 /kWh Emissions Performance Standard may be too low to support investment in carbon capture and storage.”

Noon said that Prospect does support the introduction of a stable floor price for carbon alongside strategic government support to stimulate innovation and UK supply chains and it is right that all low carbon plant should be treated in the same way.

“To-date the EU Emissions Trading Scheme has failed to provide sufficient certainty but getting the carbon price right is essential to support the business case for investment in all low-carbon generation, including nuclear and renewables.”

While sharing concerns about the impact on consumer prices, and urging the Government to take urgent action to alleviate any increase in fuel poverty, the union cautioned against simply blaming the White Paper for rising bills, given the background of volatile world energy prices, growing UK dependence on energy imports, and the need in any event to pay for replacement of the UK’s energy infrastructure which has not been prioritised in the 20 years since privatisation.

However, said Noon: “It is a major omission that yet again the Government has nothing constructive to say about investment in staff and skills – which will be critical to delivering the White Paper’s objectives. Getting the right engineering skills is just as important as getting the right financial framework. As this White Paper has ducked the issue, it is essential that the imminent Green Economy Roadmap has a more positive message about skills.