UK Industry can lead low-carbon revolution

Posted on 26 Jun 2008 by The Manufacturer

British industry has urged the government to recognise the vital role that business has to play in moving to a low-carbon economy by setting out the key policies needed to break down the current barriers to investment in key technologies where the UK can become a world leader

The call was made by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation ahead of the publication of the Renewables Strategy and on the back of a report ‘Delivering the Low Carbon Economy – Business Opportunities for UK Manufacturers’ produced by EEF in conjunction with Deloitte’s UK Manufacturing Industry Group.

Martin Temple, EEF Chairman, said: “Moving to a low-carbon economy will create significant business opportunities for the UK, but we will need to move quickly and decisively. Businesses around the world are alive to the massive opportunities and a number of governments are making their exploitation a national priority.”

Despite these opportunities, industry faces a number of barriers before it can realise the potential of the low-carbon economy. Overcoming these barriers should be a key consideration for government’s climate change strategy.

Martin Temple warned: “We need a strategy that provides leadership, overcomes the barriers to investment and helps develop the capabilities needed to deliver a low-carbon economy. The UK must be an attractive location for low-carbon businesses. The existing emphasis on negative incentives, such as carbon pricing and energy taxation, must be balanced with positive incentives for companies. In particular, support for R&D should be increased, better targeted and made more accessible.”

Jane Lodge, UK Manufacturing Industry Leader at Deloitte, said: “A range of opportunities exist for manufacturers to develop new climate friendly technologies and many UK businesses are already world class in their sectors. However, there is still much work to be done both by manufacturers themselves and also by government to create the right environment to allow these opportunities to be maximised.”

The report shows that the UK has the potential to lead the way in the low-carbon revolution. A wealth of transferable industrial capabilities, a generous endowment of relevant natural resources and market-leading technologies leave the UK extremely well-placed to profit from the expansion in three key areas of opportunity:
• Clean Coal. The UK’s strengths in the power, process and offshore engineering industries has provided market leaders in each of the major capture technologies. Estimates suggest carbon capture and storage could be worth approximately £20 billion per annum by 2030.
• Offshore wind. The UK possesses the best wind energy resources, both onshore and offshore in Europe and the potential size of the offshore market and specialist marine engineering capabilities should make the UK an attractive investment location. The Carbon Trust has estimated this could be worth £2 billion a year by 2020.
• Marine renewables. The UK possesses the largest marine energy resource in Europe, around twice as much as any other country. The UK has more businesses engaged in developing marine energy devices than any other country. Estimates suggest this could be worth £300m-900m by 2020 and £600m – £4.2 billion by 2050.