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Last edited 11 Apr 2022
Energy security strategy
The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines energy security as 'the un-interupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price'. In principle energy security covers a wide range of aspects between short and long term security. Short term security focuses on a systems ability to react quickly to sudden changes in the balance of supply verses demand. Long term security primarily involves consideration of investment to enable energy to be supplied in line with requirements both in terms of economic development and environmental need.
Energy supply is in transition which brings huge structural changes to the profile of electricity systems globally. Whilst renewable energy generation grows as a result of policy and cost reduction, conventional power plants, notably those using coal, nuclear and hydro, have been stagnating or in decline. Importantly the nature of these approaches is fundamentally different, with one relating to fewer energy sources in centralised generation systems, whilst the other relies on diffuse, decentralized systems relying on a different mix of renewable energy sources. In turn this brings about a series of related issues, for example where currently under agreement each IEA country has an obligation to ensure it holds total oil stocks to the equivalent to at least 90 days of net oil imports, clean energy technologies rely on metals and minerals that are in tight supply and whose production is dominated by a limited number of nations, as too are gas supplies..
Internationally, countries, continents, governments and many large organisations develop and publish energy security strategies setting out their approach. They may also implement initiatives that are not published in order to ensure energy supply. As such the nature of energy supply is (and in many respects always has been) a complex socio-political issue that impacts many aspect of life from financial markets to food supply. Energy security strategies are key documents and creating robust policies that are resilient to global changes is a fundamental part of global governance.
In April 2022, the UK government announced it would invest £375 million in technologies to support the UK’s energy independence. This includes £240 million to support the production of hydrogen, £2.5 million to develop next-generation nuclear technology and a further £5 million towards carbon capture research and development.
The new strategy seeks to make the UK more self-sufficient by boosting domestic energy production. The Government has said that, under the strategy, up to a quarter of the UK’s energy needs could be met using nuclear power by the year 2050. The strategy also aims for offshore wind to power all UK homes by 2030.
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng noted high gas prices and Russia’s aggression in Ukraine highlighted the need to cut the UK’s reliance on energy imports. “This investment will unlock the enormous potential of hydrogen, advanced nuclear reactors and carbon capture to level up the UK energy landscape and deliver for businesses and households.”
A full copy of the British Energy Security Strategy can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/british-energy-security-strategy
 Industry response to UK Governments April 2022 Energy Security Strategy
David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association said: “With millions of pounds invested, we are already preparing Great Britain’s networks for hydrogen and today’s news alongside yesterday’s Energy Security Strategy sets a clear direction for the UK delivering the technologies of tomorrow. The ambition is there from government and industry alike to create the energy system we need for net zero.”
Leading electrotechnical trade body ECA has responded to the Government’s Energy Security Strategy saying whilst it broadly supports the Government’s ambitions for solar and wind power, it urged the Government to focus first on energy efficiency, retrofitting ageing housing stock, and creating the right conditions for upskilling the electrotechnical workforce.
Luke Osborne, ECA Energy Solutions Advisor said: “The quickest route to energy security is to reduce our energy use by retrofitting our aging housing stock. By creating better incentives for energy efficient buildings, such as a home insultation scheme and an expansion of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to include other low carbon, energy saving solutions, consumers would see an immediate reduction in fuel bills. These are solutions that are available now and can make a difference now. Boosting oil and gas is not an acceptable short-term measure – energy efficiency is. The notion that we can delay our switch to low carbon energy by burning more fossil fuels in the interim is misguided, especially in light of the IPCC’s latest climate change report.”
Andrew Eldred, ECA Director of Workforce and Public Affairs said: “Measures to encourage electricians to upskill are urgently needed as they are essential to delivering the ambitions set out in this strategy. Without a properly trained and qualified workforce, the UK cannot meet its low-carbon energy needs. We urge the Government to listen to the electrotechnical sector and focus its drive on giving competent firms and individuals the confidence to invest in low-carbon upskilling, as a starting point on our way to energy independence and Net Zero.”
Jay Parmar, Chief Executive of the JIB, said: “The JIB welcomes the arrival of the Government’s eagerly anticipated Energy Strategy. The shift away from non-renewable energy sources towards a more sustainable future is vital if we are to meet the target of net zero carbon and affordable energy by 2050. The JIB will continue to work with industry bodies to ensure there is a trained, competent and skilled workforce in place to deliver a greener built environment.”
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