One of the major issues that will affect us over the next few decades will encompass decisions being made now on how much - and what type of – energy we need. In the next ten years, nearly a third of Britain’s electricity generating plants are due to go offline. This means we need to make choices now and we need to get the balance right.
I believe that we should strive for the most amount of clean energy we can possibly produce however current technological constraints mean that we are nowhere near being able to generate more than a fifth of our energy needs from such sources. As a result we need to consider how best to use current sources in as green a fashion as possible.
Nuclear, as we know, gives off few C02 emissions but is nonetheless very controversial as well as expensive. There are currently planning barriers in the way of developing new nuclear power stations and we propose to level the playing field so that nuclear technology may be cultivated free of hurdles but without subsidy. If companies feel they can do this without government funding, I think they should be free to do so.
Gas is due to become a very large portion of our energy sources just as North Sea stores are starting to fall. As a consequence, we need to consider very carefully upon whom we will be dependent for our fuel sources in the future. We should certainly not rely upon unstable and volatile regions for our energy needs and as such we must deliberate cautiously over whether further gas powered plant expansion is desirable.
Coal, while plentiful in the UK is, in its current form, unacceptable as a future source of the majority of our energy requirements. Recent tests have however shown that ‘carbon capture and storage’, through which the emissions are captured and stored where gas and coal have been removed from the ground. It remains to be seen whether this is a cost effective way of tackling carbon emissions.
All this shows how complex the task of deciding our future energy requirements is. I will strive, as Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, to come up with the best policies for the UK and its future security.