Is the UK energy sector in the eye of the storm?

The UK’s energy sector is “drifting in the eye of the storm” as a result of political uncertainty. That’s the verdict from EY’s Chief Economist, Mark Gregory, who opened today’s […]

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By Freddie Rand

The UK’s energy sector is “drifting in the eye of the storm” as a result of political uncertainty.

That’s the verdict from EY’s Chief Economist, Mark Gregory, who opened today’s Energy Live Expo at the QEII Centre in Westminster with a speech looking at the wider economic issues facing the industry.

He suggested confusion surrounding government policies has resulted in low investor confidence, reduced investment in energy infrastructure and caused a general slowing of growth.

Mr Gregory added the UK’s energy spend was “clearly under pressure” and said definitive frameworks were needed to spur more activity by reducing barriers to the market and incentivising new projects.

He also believes the transport, water and a number of other sectors “will be sucked in to the policy debate too”.

Image: ELN

The panel debate saw CEO of the Energy Institute, Louise Kingham, Energy Live News Chairman, Volker Beckers and Michael Gibbons, Chair of Elexon UK, discuss the important role of well thought-out regulations.

Ms Kingham said the government and industry need to encourage the “four Ds of decarbonisation, democratisation, decentralisation and digitisation” to transition to a low carbon economy and drive down costs.

She added innovation is “absolutely vital to driving change”.

Mr Beckers seemed to agree with Mr Gregory’s ‘eye of the storm’ allegory. He told the audience: “The UK is stuck in the middle between a fully regulated world and a free, liberalised world.

“To be stuck in the middle is the worst place to be.”

Mr Gibbons agreed policies need fixing to remove barriers to energy investments  and suggested the key to good regulation is good consultation.

He added they needed to be carefully planned, using evidence-based analyses “to ensure benefits to society as a whole will exceed the cost of delivery”.