The UK’s largest independent energy consultancy McKinnon & Clarke has said that while the government is “saying the right things” about energy, it is “not yet backing it up with real action”.
Energy analyst for McKinnon & Clarke David Hunter said: “We are heartened by Charles Hendry’s comments to the Nuclear Industry Forum on how he wants to make the UK one of the most attractive places in Europe to invest in new nuclear. Clearly, the purpose of these assurances is to give private companies the confidence to respond with finance.
“However, we are concerned that the government, while saying the right things, is not yet backing it up with real action – particularly given the well documented difference of opinion on the need for nuclear at the heart of government.
Mr Hunter said that while introducing a carbon floor price was “a step in the right direction, more must be done”.
“Nuclear is still not operating on a level playing field when compared to renewable which receives huge subsidies from government,” he said. “Considering exempting nuclear power from the Climate Change Levy, and transforming the Renewable Obligation scheme into a Low Carbon Obligation to include nuclear power, are steps that could be taken.”
Mr Hunter that if the UK was to succeed in its aim to build £200bn-worth of energy infrastructure over the next decade, “foreign private investment will be needed on a grand scale”.
“The government cannot afford to foot the bill, but that may not be the biggest obstacle to overcome. There are still potential planning delays, nuclear skills shortages in new build and regulation which, despite government assurances, could delay the process. Foreign investors will be aware of such pitfalls.
“It is all well and good saying that the government ‘will remove regulatory barriers and encourage nuclear power’, but it is still reliant on private investors to ‘plug the energy gap’; there are real issues to overcome over and above funding. The biggest could be the obvious differences of opinion with the government when it comes to nuclear energy.”
Watch our interview with Charles Hendry in TV Reports