Britain must become a leader in new low carbon technology or risk losing out on a jobs boom from infant industries, says Energy Minister Charles Hendry. His call to arms came as he lambasted the last Labour government for failing to pin down the investment needed to keep the lights on in the UK.
He declared at the Conservative Party conference: “There is a choice facing this country. We can be leaders in these new industries or we can be followers. If we follow, we import the technology and we export the jobs and wealth.
“If we lead, we help create the technologies which will transform the global approach to energy and deliver real low-carbon energy security for decades to come.”
He added that we need £200billion worth of investment in our energy infrastructure, but with this will come more employment, pointing to new nuclear power stations that will create 5,000 jobs each.
Sounding the alarm that the prospect of blackouts had been a real possibility before the Coalition came to power, Mr Hendry said: “Our electricity plant is old and needs replacing. One third of our coal plant closes within five years. Much more will have to close by the end of the decade. Almost all of our nuclear plant will have to close by 2023.
“Yet even knowing these timescales, Labour failed to get the investment we need. So when Ed Miliband lectures us on energy policy, let’s never forget that it was on his watch as Energy Secretary, that we started to face the prospect of black-outs – for the first time in a generation.”
Tidal power, coal and gas stations that use carbon capture and storage technology, nuclear power and offshore wind will all play a role in keeping the lights on, Mr Hendry said.