Improving energy efficiency and resource productivity need to be priorities in the UK government’s new Industrial Strategy, according to a major new report published this week.
Drawing on evidence and opinions gathered from across the nation, the report – Engineering an economy that works for all – responds to each of the almost 40 questions posed in the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Strategy.
The report was produced on behalf of the Engineering the Future (EtF) policy group, an alliance of the 38 professional engineering bodies in the UK.
It was primarily authored by organisations including: Royal Academy of Engineering, Institution of Engineering and Technology, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Institution of Chemical Engineers, and Institution of Civil Engineers.
The Institution of Chemical Engineers had a significant input to Pillar 7 of the report, which concentrates on delivering affordable energy and clean growth. It recommends that government, through the Emissions Reduction Plan, should deliver a stable medium-to long-term energy strategy that provides the confidence and certainty required to plan to meet the Climate Change Act and Paris Agreement obligations.
It also argues that energy policy has historically been approached in silos, addressing the environment, security, and cost separately, which has resulted in policies that work against one another. The new report calls on government to take a whole system approach that addresses the needs of businesses, as well as the wider public, while reducing emissions and ensuring security and resilience.
Ensuring that the government finds an affordable solution that meets these needs is a particular concern of the engineering profession. 60% of engineers that responded to the survey reported that energy costs were a significant issue for their organisation. Improving energy efficiency was identified as the single most important area for the government to focus on, in order to limit energy costs.
The report outlines key features of an integrated energy solution that takes into account system interdependencies and opportunities to integrate electricity, heat and transport systems, including:
- Better incentives to drive heating efficiency savings
- Government support for the development of new energy productsthat are fit for market
- Selective support for renewable energy generation, including tidal power and offshore wind
- Support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology
- Development support for a UK small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) industry
Ensuring that the government finds an affordable solution that meets these needs is a particular concern of the engineering profession.
Almost two-thirds (60%) of engineers that responded to the survey reported that energy costs were a significant issue for their organisation. Improving energy efficiency was identified as the single most important area for the government to focus on, in order to limit energy costs.
The report also calls for government and policy makers to develop and invest in schemes which reduces energy consumption without undermining the competitiveness of individual businesses. It also calls for Energy Saving Incentives (ESI) which should aim to reduce energy demand significantly by 2050, and could pay out for demonstrating energy saving.
Chief Executive of the Energy Institute, Louise Kingham explained: “The message from the engineering community is clear. If the government’s industrial strategy is to make the most of the opportunities, it should have greater energy efficiency and a system wide approach at its heart.
“And the policies adopted must be credible over the long term, to provide industry with the confidence needed to sustain investment and jobs in energy technologies and infrastructure.”