Prime Minister Tony Blair this week said that the UK must remain self sufficient for energy or face economic crisis.
Giving his keynote address to the Labour Pary in Manchester he told delegates that Britain couldn't afford to become a net importer of energy.Current trends suggest that the UK will be importing 80% of its energy within 10 years.Referring to the impending Energy White Paper, Blair said: 'This is the most radical overhaul of energy policy since the Second World War.' Blair said new nuclear was inevitable.'I believe that without it [nuclear] we will face an energy crisis and we can't let that happen.'Blair added that renewable energy and clean coal would also play an important role. 'We will have to have a five fold increase in renewables and are trebling investment in clean technologies, including clean coal.'Blair's comments were reiterated by energy minister Malcom Wicks who earlier said that the UK should lead the way worldwide in becoming a pioneer for clean coal technology.'We are investing in research and technology but what we really need is a major demonstration project. This would drive markets and job opportunities around the world,' he said.Wicks was speaking at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting organised by EDF Energy.He told delegates that the government had recently increased investment in research and to expect a statement on the use of clean coal in the chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-budget report.Wicks took the opportunity to outline the government's position on energy supplies and hinted at the mix that the forthcoming white paper would support.'We have got to be looking at the future of coal tacking on clean coal technology and increasing the use of renewables to 20% by 2020,' he said.'In terms of nuclear power it is about replacement. We are looking at replacing our current civil nuclear plants with a new generation of nuclear capacity being built on existing nuclear sites,' he said.