Affordable energy for business critical for industrial strategy

Prime Minister Theresa May has made affordable energy for businesses one of the “ten pillars” of her Government’s industrial strategy.

In a Green Paper published to begin discussions on the topic, the strategy outlined: “We will keep energy costs down for businesses, build the energy infrastructure we need for new technologies and secure the economic benefits of the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

An “Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund” will be set up to fund smart energy technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence, and fifth-generation (5G) mobile network technology.

Ultra-low emission vehicles were also hailed as a focus for the strategy.

‘Step in the right direction’

Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of trade body Energy UK, welcomed the focus on battery technology and electric vehicles within the industrial strategy.

“However, it’s critical the Government acts swiftly to provide the long-term framework necessary to secure investment to build our low carbon future,” he said.

“In a post-Brexit economy, the UK has a unique opportunity to become a world leader through innovation as we transition to a smarter lower carbon economy.”

James Court, Head of Policy & External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association, described the strategy as “a step in the right direction” and added: “Many elements of this strategy are encouraging, we welcome the interest in setting up an energy storage research institution and strengthening links between industry and academia so that products that are researched in the UK are commercialised in the UK.”

Need to maximise benefits

Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director at trade body RenewableUK, said: “Energy costs are crucial for all industries, so as this reboot for Britain takes shape, with renewable energy now a mainstream power source, we need to maximise the benefits we all get from the investments that have been made in modernising the way we generate electricity.

“This means that onshore wind has a key role to play in our future energy mix, as it’s the cheapest form of new power for Britain.”
But Clive Lewis, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, criticised the Green Paper and said: “Unless the Government puts a lot of flesh on these bones this will be a strategy of spin rather than substance.”

> Download the Green Paper