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Energy Supply Top of Government Agenda

A comprehensive independent report looking at Britain’s energy security was published this week by the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on International Energy, Rt. Hon. Malcolm Wicks MP.

A comprehensive independent report looking at Britain’s energy security was published today by the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on International Energy, Rt. Hon. Malcolm Wicks MP.

The report - ‘Energy Security: a national challenge in a changing world’ -sets out why energy supply must be a national priority as the UK makes the transition to a low carbon economy.

Charting the UK’s move from a position of relative energy independence to a greater dependence on energy imports, Mr Wicks argues that the move to a low carbon economy is as vital to energy security as it is to tackling climate change. He strongly recommends the Government pursues energy efficiency and home grown sources of energy with maximum pace and ambition.

Rt Hon Malcolm Wicks MP said: “Energy reserves are concentrated in some of the most unstable parts of the world. That’s an issue of national security. There is no crisis but we can never be complacent. As we move out of recession, the global grab for energy will resume in earnest, consumption is predicted to rise, and with it prices.

“Complete energy independence is an unrealistic goal but there is much we can do to insulate ourselves from the risks, in large part by driving our climate policies even further, quicker. We must be far smarter with the energy we use and invest in home grown energy sources, such as new nuclear and renewables without delay.”

The report analyses of the challenges facing the UK on energy security:

- By 2030 the world will still need fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency predicts that even with ambitious climate change targets the world will continue to use coal, gas and oil to meet over 2/3rds of its energy needs

- By 2020, varying estimates suggest that the UK will be importing 45-80% of its gas.

- The UK has been reliant on imports before but the energy security challenges presented by a dramatically changing global economic, geopolitical and energy landscape, combined with the urgent need to tackle climate change, are new and require us to re-assess our approach.

It concludes that:

- The UK should continue to ensure that energy efficiency is at the heart of energy dialogues with our global partners.

- An aspiration that nuclear should provide some 35-40% of our electricity beyond 2030 should be considered by Government.

- Prioritise Norway, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the most significant bilateral relationships to our energy security. Relationships built on a broad base including diplomatic, development and cultural collaboration will provide a firm basis on which to pursue our energy security goals.

- The UK should remain at the forefront in developing and demonstrating CCS technology.

- The Government should do what it can to support EU work to promote diversification of routes and sources of gas supply into Europe including through the use of EU diplomacy to influence third countries where they are better placed to do this than the UK bilaterally.

- The Government should keep under review the possibility of further measures to enhance levels of gas storage, should anticipated commercial storage developments fail to materialise at the scale anticipated.

- Following the Government’s National Security Strategy 2009 which recognised the importance of energy to the UK’s national security, the report recommends that the Government consider setting up an Office of International Energy, bringing together more closely those working across Government on these issues.

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