The importance of Energy Security

A statement by Sam Laidlaw, Chief Executive of Centrica, stresses the importance of energy security (30 Jun 08). The main points in his article, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph, are summarised (in my words) below.

Energy is now at the heart of political and public debate, and Britain faces a looming energy crunch.

  • Gas imports are increasing at a time when the price and worldwide demand are rocketing.
  • Our electricity generating capacity is declining as older nuclear and coal stations reach the end of their life.

    These problems will be best tackled by
  • Increasing energy efficiency to reduce domestic consumption
  • A new Planning Bill enabling us to get the power stations we need without undue delay.

    We must not steamroller local democracy, but we cannot afford a process which took BAA seven years and 37 planning applications before it built Terminal 5. It's vital to maintain the energy security which Britain has enjoyed for centuries. We need offshore wind and nuclear power stations, gas storage facilities and transmission grids. The national interest must be kept in sight.

    The Government's renewables strategy is a step on the way to a low-carbon future. We will see solar panels, heat pumps and other energy-saving devices in millions of homes.

    The investment required is enormous. The Government estimates 100 billion by 2020, which is 1600 for every man, woman and child in Britain.

    On top of this we need new nuclear power, replacement gas stations, clean coal generation and new standby generation for when the wind isn't blowing. We also need more energy-saving measures. Some households will need financial support in this high-priced energy environment.

    If we don't do this, our customers, our economy and our climate change commitments will be at the mercy of volatile international commodity markets.

    summarised by ND; the responsibility for any errors is mine. If quoting from it, please use the original article, which is about four times the length and which will be found on the Daily Telegraph website for 30.06.08.

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