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East Midlands Regional Conference - The Energy Debate

October 28, 2013 4:16 PM
By Phil Knowles - Policy Officer
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Sustainable energyA key issues that is currently at the top of so many peoples topics of discussion is Energy. Energy for homes, energy for businesses. We were approached about an opportunity to discuss the subject at Regional Conference. We will be allocating a special workshop time slot in order to give as many members as possible the opportunity to take part in the debate.

Dr Nick Riley will open the discussion highlighting aspects of this very wide and detailed subject after which the discussion will be opened up for debate and the opportunity available for those attending the discussion to make/react to a proposal. I'm happy to list the background information that Dr Riley has kindly provided. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Please come along and get involved .

Lib Dem East Midlands Regional Conference: The Energy Debate

Introduced by Dr Nick Riley MBE, C. Geol., FGS.

Briefing document for delegates.

Scope: Energy is the lifeblood to a modern economy and an essential requirement, just like food and water, for UK citizens to remain healthy and participate fully in society.

World energy outlook: Energy is a global market, with demand rising quickly. How much fossil fuel is there in the world? When will fossil fuels become too scarce to be economically viable as an energy source? In the near term the UK will have to increasingly import its energy. What are the pros & cons of importing energy compared with developing indigenous resources?

Climate change & ocean acidification. The latest IPCC report on climate change (Sept 2013) gives a conservative and very clear message, based on peer reviewed published science, that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity (mainly fossil fuel burning) are warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising, sea level is rising, ice caps are melting, extreme weather events & new records are becoming more frequent. How should Britain respond to this global challenge? Is it possible to transform our energy system to renewables only, coupled with demand reduction through energy efficiency? What can we learn from developed countries that are perceived as being ahead of the UK on implementing renewables and energy efficiency?

Nuclear & Carbon Capture & Storage: Nuclear and Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) are the only large scale compact, low emission energy generation technologies currently available: The UK has now committed to proceed with new nuclear build (Hinckley Point) even though no geological site has been identified for the long term storage of intermediate level nuclear waste (to comply with international law, this site has to be within the UK and directly accessible from land). The UK may have lost the world lead it once had on civilian nuclear development, having to draw on French and Chinese expertise. Can it lead, or should it lead the the world on CCS? The UK has £1bn allocated (since 2008) to fund a world first demonstration of CCS linked directly to power generation. Final investment decisions are expected in 2014, subject to government approval, to proceed with at least one of the two government shortlisted projects (Peterhead in Scotland and Drax in Yorkshire). Nuclear and CCS are very capital intensive up front, and geological storage options are not yet proven, but clearly these challenges have not been a show stopper for nuclear development in the UK. What about CCS?

Energy Poverty: UK citizens are classed as being in energy poverty if their annual energy costs are more than 10% of household income. The current target is to eliminate energy poverty by 2016. This target is unrealistic, as energy poverty continues to rise (currently more than 6 million households, with over 4million in arrears). This is currently the "hottest" political issue. It cannot be solved in the short term - so how can it be solved?