The Brexit spotlight swung last week away from the familiar cast of bankers quitting the City and coffee-shop chains worried about recruiting staff to the fate of the energy industry tasked with powering the economy when the UK leaves the EU. The loudest warnings came from MPs, peers, engineers and the industry itself over the impact that blocks to trade or freedom of movement would have on the nuclear and oil sectors. However, the UK’s departure from the union also risks damaging urgent efforts to make the continent’s energy systems greener and more efficient, an adviser to the head of the United Nations has told the Observer. Rachel Kyte, special representative on sustainable energy to UN secretary general António Guterres, said anything that hampered the global switch to lower carbon power would be regrettable. “Brexit is at best a distraction, at worst a disruption of the need to continue to drive energy productivity across the UK and Europe – of having a much less energy-intensive economy and getting more productivity from each unit of energy, of having a cleaner energy system, of having much less use of carbon-intensive fuels,” said Kyte. At least eight cables are being laid under the sea or through the Channel Tunnel to trade power between the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Denmark and Norway, tripling the existing number of UK interconnectors. Billions of pounds are committed to the projects under way, and ones even further afield have been mooted, such as a cable to bring Iceland’s volcanic power to the UK. The government hopes these interconnectors will continue to operate post-Brexit, and wants more beyond those planned already. Key to the future prospects for interconnectors will be whether the UK continues as a member of the EU internal energy market, in a similar fashion to Norway. The nuclear industry potentially stands to lose the most from leaving the EU.
Guardian 6th May 2017 read more »