Making gold out of green

Posted on 16 Nov 2009 by The Manufacturer

The UK needs to increase its efforts on low carbon industries in order to maximise its slice of a pie that will be worth £4.5tr by 2015, according to EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

The trade group has released a report today called ‘Under the Microscope – Is UK PLC ready for Low Carbon?’. It suggests the UK is in danger of falling behind other countries in the race to capitalize on green opportunities.

The report says UK manufacturers are not able to take advantage by developing green technologies as there are not suitable tax breaks for capital investment and R&D in place. The UK is also lacking the right policy toward obtaining the skills needed and our low carbon strategy is generally too vague, the organisation says.

Though the increased government focus on low carbon over the last two years is to be commended, “we cannot ignore the fact the UK is behind the curve and playing catch up in this area,” says EEF energy adviser Roger Salomone.

“Locating in the UK offers cleantech companies some real advantages, but major weaknesses remain. To position the country as a premier location for the low carbon industrial revolution we urgently need more strategic and joined up thinking from government together with active engagement from industry.”

The report suggests government:

• focuses its efforts on the green industries that offer the biggest gains for the UK, with Nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, offshore renewables and low-carbon vehicles suggested;
• brings R&D in clean energy up to average OECD levels (currently the UK spends the least);
• introduces ‘green bonds’ which allow manufacturers to use future tax benefits to finance low-carbon technologies;
• focuses on creating a strong supply of core skills and a genuinely demand-led vocational training system, rather than trying to second-guess future needs;
• inspires young people to study for and pursue careers in the STEM professions.

EEF pointed to South Korea and in particular the city of Seoul as an example of a focus on low carbon that is better than ours. Seoul has committed to spending two per cent of GDP per year on developing green industries.