Energy Bill needs a plan for growth
Alongside the Energy Bill, a TUC Briefing, published today, argues that the government should set out a plan for energy jobs, skills and growth. At least £110bn of clean energy investment is required by 2020, and further £16bn a year through to 2030. Despite rising concerns over energy bills, we are facing a new “dash for gas” stranding the UK with high CO2 emissions into the 2030s. The Energy Bill must therefore enforce carbon capture & storage (CCS) investment on coal and gas power stations from the outset. The Bill should engage industry with a new CCS Feed in Tariff for major industrial sites. New measures to incentivise energy efficiency could save UK businesses £23 billion annually.
We need to know the numbers:
- how much new clean energy capacity needed up to 2030 from renewables, clean fossil fuels and nuclear power.
- the forward plan for carbon capture & storage projects.
- the contract prices available to investors.
- the long term cost of carbon.
- how the annual billions raised in carbon taxes will be recycled to industry and
consumers for the green economy.
- the jobs and skills required to deliver clean energy to 2030.
By 2030, carbon emissions from power generation must fall to a tenth of today’s levels: from about 540 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour (540gCO2/kWh) now to 50gCO2/kWh in 2030.
Concerns for the TUC and its Clean Coal Task Group as the Bill goes into a pre-legislative scrutiny include the danger of a new dash for gas. An emissions standard set too high will permit new gas fired power stations to be built with no carbon capture stipulations until the mid-2030s. Power station standards should enforce CCS on new coal and gas stations from the outset. We need early clarity on how CCS projects for fossil fuel power stations will be supported. And an energy efficiency incentive is required to encourage firms that cut their energy use.
The jobs and skills opportunities for the power industry and its supply chains are enormous:
- 35,000 new employees up to the mid-2020s in the nuclear power sector that have to be recruited, trained and developed.
- 110,000 jobs in renewables now, and set to rise to 400,000 jobs to meet the 2020 renewable energy targets.
- 100,000 jobs across the UK by 2030 in CCS networks, worth £6.5 billion to the UK’s economy, if applied to our heavy industries and power stations in industrial areas.
According to the Green Economy report from the All Party Environmental Audit Committee, “There appears to be little priority in Government attached to moving to a green economy.” The government’s electricity market reforms provide a unique opportunity to link energy and industry policy and signal a commitment to growth through green investment. Alongside the Energy Bill, the government should heed their advice and set out a plan for energy jobs and growth.