26 November 2015

IChemE Energy Centre responds to Secretary of State plans for UK energy

Energy Centre puzzle piece

Ahead of the COP21 talks in Paris, the Institution of Chemical Engineer’s (IChemE) Energy Centre Board has issued a response to Amber Rudd’s speech on UK energy policy. The board has raised concerns over Rudd’s bias towards cost-saving and security, demanding that more importance is placed on the issue of decarbonisation and climate change in its own right.

Rudd, secretary of state for energy and climate change, gave the speech on 18 November, asking, “How do we achieve an energy system that is secure; affordable; and clean?” The MP made it clear she wanted to abolish coal power by 2025, dubbing the energy source “the dirtiest fossil fuel”.

The initiative received a strong reaction from the public via social media, however IChemE's Energy Centre Board have been quick to point out that the gradual closure of coal-fired power plants has been in progress for some time. The Board were supportive of Rudd’s conditions around the initiative, which stipulate coal would only be abolished if a sufficient number of new gas-fired plants were implemented before 2025.

Throughout the speech Rudd called on energy security to become the UK’s number one priority. The statement has been seen as a poor decision by the Energy Centre Board, in light of the upcoming COP21 climate change talks in Paris.

In the response document it asks, What has happened to the courage and leadership shown in the 2008 Climate Change Act?” – a question which demands a braver and more impactful response to the UK energy crisis. The Board also deemed Rudd’s claims that we don’t have all the answers to decarbonisation today as profoundly untrue".

The Energy Centre concluded the response with the view that Rudd’s speech offered a limited vision of the 2027 energy system in the UK" – as throughout the speech Rudd did not focus on renewable energy sources.

However the Board were in agreement with Rudd’s comments that "energy research and development has been neglected in recent years", and called for increased support from the UK government in terms of research support.

Stef Simons, Chair of the Energy Centre Board, will be giving a presentation on 10 December, at a COP21 side event in Paris, France.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).