Britain's future energy: companies keen on "Green Deal" says Chris HuhneUnited Kingdom
The Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has revealed that companies are keen to get involved in the government's "Green Deal" which could help Britain meet its energy target.
Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has revealed that companies such as B&Q and Scottish & Southern Energy are keen to get involved in the government's "Green Deal" which could help Britain meet its energy targets and create 250,000 green jobs.
The Daily Telegraph last week hosted a well-attended "Question Time" style debate on Britain's future energy strategy at its offices in London.
As part of The Age of Energy partnership, Telegraph readers were able to debate the key issues facing the country over the coming decades.
The panel consisted of Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change; James Smith, the chairman of Shell UK; Philippa Forrester, television producer and author; David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF; and Gordon MacKerron, the director of Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex.
Mr Huhne started the evening by highlighting the many challenges the country was facing as it attempts to keep the lights on. "We currently import 27pc of our energy needs," Mr Huhne said. "But this will rise to more than 50pc as the North Sea fields are depleted."
The more we are limited by dependence on gas and oil, the more the country is at risk, Mr Huhne explained.
Mr Smith said it was also very clear that climate change would hit us hard and we had to be prepared.
"We have to have a portfolio of energy sources," Mr Smith said, arguing that it was a big mistake to rely on any one form of energy generation.
Currently, the UK uses more energy to heat its homes than in colder countries such as Sweden and the panel accepted that this needed to be reversed. Ms Forrester thought that education was the key to help us all. "Domestic energy use can't be overlooked," she said.
The government plans to launch a "Green Deal" to radically overhaul the energy efficiency of homes and small businesses, which could support a quarter of a million jobs over the next 20 years.
Mr Huhne predicted that the Green Deal, in which private companies pay for insulation of energy efficiencies in homes, would create about 250,000 jobs – up from 27,000 now.
The private companies would then recoup these costs over time from savings on power bills. It was noted that companies such as B&Q and Scottish & Southern were keen to be a part of this programme.
Mr Nussbaum thought that it was very important that private landlords could buy into the Green Deal scheme and see that they would reap benefits from participating in the project and not just their tenants by way of lower utility bills.
Both the panel and the audience were keen to discuss ways in which to solve the issue of transportation.
"Biofuels are the only current way to deal with aviation," Mr MacKerron said. Taxation of air travel was also an issue the panel and audience felt strongly about, how Mr Huhne pointed out that aviation fuel was not taxed based on an international treaty.
Although there was a split in the audience over the merits of nuclear energy and wind power, one subject on which the panellists and audience agreed was the need for a more substantial energy grid across the whole of Europe.
It was felt that this would allow an efficient distribution system that could allow different sources of power to be distributed depending on demand and generation capacity.
Objection to nuclear power because of the waste issue was very strong from some quarters of the audience.
Mr Huhne concluded by saying that the lights "would not go out on his watch."
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