Huhne vows to talk to energy players to ‘unlock flood of investment’

Energy secretary Chris Huhne has vowed to talk to “all the key players in the industry” to secure security of supply and in turn “unlock the enormous flood of investment” […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Energy secretary Chris Huhne has vowed to talk to “all the key players in the industry” to secure security of supply and in turn “unlock the enormous flood of investment” needed to keep the UK’s energy ambitions on track.

In an interview with ELN at Westminster following the Queen’s Speech, Mr Huhne also said that the key to energy security “has to be a partnership between government and the key investors in the public sector”.

He said he aware that investors now need to see clarity and regulatory stability from the government. “We need to unlock massive amounts of investment from the private sector in providing us with energy over the coming decades, and we can only do that if we have got a very clear set of ground rules for them [investors] to take on board.

Mr Huhne stressed that he would be drawing up a blueprint to quell any fears investors might have over the stability of the coalition government. “I hope people in the energy industry are going to be very confident that the framework which we come up with for energy, designed to deliver security and savings, is going to be a framework that will last and provide the certainty to unlock the investment that we need.”

He pledged to “discuss in detail with all the key energy players” the coalition’s plans to secure energy supply. “We are determined that if we are going to unlock the enormous flood of investment which is needed to provide us with energy security in the future, there has to be a partnership between government and the key investors in the public sector.”

Mr Huhne also used his interview with ELN to respond to questions over his – and his party’s – stance on nuclear, an issue which has been a talking point in the energy industry ever since the result of this month’s election was known.

“My position on nuclear has always been one of the sceptical economist rather than an ideological ayatollah against any particular source of energy.

“My position on infant technologies such as wave power, tidal and so forth is that there is an argument for subsidy. With a mature technology like nuclear energy, there isn’t an argument for subsidy and that is agreed across both parties of the coalition.

He stressed: “There will be no public subsidy for nuclear” and confirmed that if “operators bring forward plans for commercial power plants” that fit the no-subsidy rule, “then it is clear that they will go ahead, because the arrangement that we have made on voting will ensure that there is a majority for that in the House of Commons”.

“I believe this provides people with real certainty that if they want to invest then they will be able to do so and that will be part of our energy mix.”

Watch the full interview in our TV Reports