Energy professionals want a predictable policy environment with “no surprises” from government.
The latest annual survey dubbed ‘Energy Barometer’ from the Energy Institute found its members are most concerned about access to skills and the UK’s relationship with the EU Single Market following Brexit.
A majority of them (66%) believe the engineering sector will need the most additional support to ensure sufficient supply of labour and 38% say apprentices and training are the most effective form of co-operation between industry and academia to address the skills shortage.
The EI supports more than 23,000 individuals working in or studying energy and 250 companies worldwide.
Louise Kingham, Chief Executive of the Energy Institute said on a wider scale, they are concerned about policy decisions they feel have been “slightly held up with various different bits of upheaval” in the last 12 months.
She added: “So bringing forward the Green Growth Plan, having a response on Industrial Strategy as it was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, making some subset decisions around key energy policy measures as a result of those things is important to keep the energy business moving here in the UK.”
According to the EI members, the six biggest challenges for the industry in 2017 are energy policy, low carbon energy, security of supply, investment and cost, Brexit and grid and infrastructure.
They also believe the UK’s ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions by more than half by 2030 is at risk.
Ms Kingham said the Tories’ energy price cap pledge which wasn’t mentioned in the Queen’s Speech “creates an opportunity for businesses to be proactive in coming up with innovative ways to tackle the challenge”.
Steve Holliday, Vice President of the Energy Institute and former CEO of National Grid told ELN energy professionals are also worried about investment post-Brexit.
He said: “They’re worried about uncertainty delaying investment. What was interesting actually was people came through and said we’d actually quite like to lift and shift almost all of the regulations associated with climate change and energy in Europe – so the Great Repeal Bill should take everything.”
UK energy at a European level
Mr Holliday added energy professionals want energy to be dealt with at a European level: “We should continue, whatever the outcome of Brexit is, that we’re very tied into the way that Europe thinks about energy policy and I think that hints out really the need to make sure the energy flows around Europe are still very free and easy in the future which will keep our prices down in the UK.”
They believe energy efficiency, renewables and nuclear are the best measures to reach the nation’s emissions targets.
They are urging the government to make energy efficiency the number one priority for action as it is seen as having the “lowest investment risk”.
The professionals expect a “moderate” transformation of the UK’s heat mix through to 2030. They “strongly agree” proven technologies – particularly those related to efficiency – should be prioritised.
Financial incentives, like tax credits or grant schemes, mandatory standards for buildings and engaging with communities via new ownership models are seen as the most effective policy measures to decarbonise heat through to 2030.