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Energy investment fears could force renationalisation, says ICE

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RENATIONALISATION OF the UK energy industry may be the only way to ensure vital investment in energy supplies is carried out, a top energy engineer warned last week.

State control of the power sector may be needed by 2015, said ICE energy board chairman David Anderson.

He was speaking at the Energy debate at NCE's Civils 2004 event, held last week in Birmingham.

'I am mindful that the industry was nationalised first in 1948 because of poor planning in generation sourcing, ' said Anderson.

'If we go forward today with little investment in new plant we may go back to a similar arena and renationalisation might take place.

'If I was asked to postulate a date, it will be very interesting to see where we are in 2015, ' said Anderson.

The ICE fears that market forces have driven the price of electricity so low that generators cannot afford to invest in new plant.

By 2010 coal and nuclear plants will be providing just one third of the UK's power needs, with 57% provided by gas.

By 2020 gas will provide 70% with much of it imported, leaving the country exposed to foreign political or economic risk.

The ICE wants investment in a diverse supply of generation sources to protect the UK against these fluctuations.

Institution of Electrical Engineers chief executive Dr Alf Roberts, who wrote the government's Energy White called for selective legislation and encouragement for the clean coal and nuclear industry to match that in the renewables industry.

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