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Energy policy, infrastructure, investment and the future; Energys Group supports aims of new Balfour Beatty report

Balfour Beatty is one of the UK’s top infrastructure providers. As such, it is expertly positioned to comment and lobby on measures required to maintain jobs, competitive industry and a burgeoning UK economy.

The firm’s latest report; ‘Infrastructure 2050 – Future Infrastructure Need,’ has much to say. Overarchingly, it seeks to influence future infrastructure and energy policy, highlighting UK skills shortages, an investment shortfall and economic uncertainty, plus Brexit, as just some of the obstacles to future prosperity.

The report in detail; energy

Balfour Beatty clearly believes that technology is key to the future. Its paper argues that smart technology in building design can help individuals control the space around them and the amount of energy they use.

This endorsement of energy efficiency is most welcome, but there is more. The firm says that a clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed, agreed, communicated and retained to provide investors with certainty.

More specifically, the government should support the development of interconnectors, smart grids and smart networks and energy storage through the removal of regulatory barriers to develop markets, in order to help deliver £8bn a year savings to the UK consumer.

Evidently, Balfour considers the UK grid antiquated, and wants solutions fast. It says society will come more and more to demand intelligent infrastructure, which makes the most of energy generation and
distribution.

This will make our buildings smarter and offer up data to inform future decision making. But the implicit sense in the paper is that as a whole, the UK is as yet distant from reaching such goals.

Decarbonisation

Unsurprisingly, Balfour seeks a largely decarbonised energy system before the middle of the century, saying a continuous, reliable and low carbon energy supply is crucial for economic growth and stability as well as social well-being.

It predicts a worsening energy crunch by 2030 and is candid on today’s incoherent strategy, saying, ‘A clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed and communicated to facilitate the hundreds of billions of pounds worth of investment in the energy supply infrastructure required by 2030.’

Balfour does praise recent decisions on an overall coal phase out, but argues such certainty is required across the energy policy and investment landscape.

The firm sees a burgeoning future for energy storage, saying it can be used to complement low carbon and renewable generation sources if utilised as a balancing mechanism and appropriately regulated, creating a multi-billion pound industry.

The sense within the paper as a whole is that there is hope out there, but appropriate actions are required fast, and today’s politics pose a risk to future readiness in energy.

The Energys response

“We welcome Balfour Beatty’s paper,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group. “The energy sections in particular show how world leading infrastructure providers are all coming to the same conclusion; energy efficiency and decarbonisation represent the future.

“Obviously, tough political times are here, and there are myriad challenges for today’s UK energy sector. To my mind, the paper points to one truth.

“If low carbon firms, centralised policy and the big infrastructure providers and operators come together, there is a chance not only to develop a prosperous UK, but one whose jobs and industries primarily create wealth from low carbon, not coal.

“The issue is we must start now. And all must pull together. Time is not available to waste.”

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